I am catching up on some things that happened quite a while ago. The visit of the Patrouille de France to Mather for a display as part of their US Tour was a combination of fun and frustration. I was covering the visit for GAR and had arranged to be there for the arrival, the practice and the show itself. They were supposed to show up relatively early but they had some serviceability issues and, when they finally showed up, the sun was setting.
There was still some light when the first jets flew into the pattern. As they taxied in, the light on them was rather nice. By the time the last jets (of the day) showed up, it was dark. The crews were very cheerful despite their difficult day and they spent a lot of time with some local kids for a French school. They didn’t all make it though. Two jets had diverted with problems and they would show up until late the following day. The A400M didn’t arrive until after I had left and it headed straight out the following morning to go and fix the two stragglers. The second day practice and flyby over the Golden Gate were scrubbed as a result with the flyby being achieved after the display rather than before.
It was a few days with a mix of good flying and disappointment but such is the way with aviation.
The A400M Atlas is now in service with a number of air forces. My encounters with them, though, have only involved the development airframes displayed by Airbus. That changed in Sacramento when The Patrouille de France arrived as part of their North American tour. They brought an A400M as he support plane. I was rather disappointed that it arrived late in the evening, after I had gone home and disappeared early the following morning to recover some delayed jets.
It was back for the day of the display though. It started up at a remote location but then proceeded to give a short flying display. It then taxied back to the crowd line where it shut down and was opened up for visitors. The people were lined up to get inside it for ages. The plane still looked pretty clean so I guess it had not been in service too long. I was glad to get a close up look around the outside as well as to see the crowds inside and the flying display itself. Not a dramatic performance like the test crews have put on but still good to see.