Army reservist Captain Romain to take part in the Bastille Day parade!
Romain, an engineer at Safran Electronics & Defense, will take part in the Bastille Day aerial display with a flypast over the Champs Elysées in a Mirage 2000D. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this Combat Navigator, who is a reservist in the French Air and Space Force. We catch up with him!
What does your role in the Bastille Day aerial parade mean to you?
A vast amount of pride! When my unit commander gave me the opportunity to take part, I jumped at the chance. Before starting at Safran as a Remote Pilot for Patroller test flights, I was in the French Air and Space Force as a "Combat Navigator", but I had never had the opportunity to take part in this event. I realize that to fly over Paris, down the Champs Elysées to the Presidential gallery is a rare privilege!
What will your role be during this aerial display? Which aircraft will you be flying in?
I will be on board one of the two Mirage 2000Ds in unit 3. We are the 3rd group to fly past, after the nine Alpha Jets of the Patrouille de France which start the proceedings, and the four Rafales, three of which are Indian Air Force jets (see the schedule). My role will be to ensure the flight runs smoothly, mainly to respect the timing and make sure that our position is symmetrical to the other Mirage 2000D. I am delighted to be presenting this great fighter jet during the 14 July aerial display.
It's an impressive set-up: over 60 aircraft will form the aerial display and almost as many will be on the substitutes' bench ready to intervene if there's a problem.
How did the rehearsals go?
Rehearsals started two weeks before the parade. We had a rehearsal with almost all the aircraft taking part in the display. I belong to the 30th Fighter Squadron, based in Mont-de-Marsan. We took off from this base to join the aerial cortege and practice the entire display over Orléans air base. It was a full-scale rehearsal. On July 14, we will be taking off from Evreux (near Paris) air base.
The real challenge of this parade will be timing and synchronization! We have a conductor on top of the Arc de Triomphe who will tell all the aircraft the reference time, which will enable each one to get in the correct position and be perfectly synchronized with the other planes in the different units. If there is a problem during the flight (before leaving the holding pattern), "substitute" jets are ready to step in. They take off at the same time as us and stay in the "box", as we say. It's an impressive set-up: over 60 aircraft will form the aerial display and almost as many will be on the substitutes' bench ready to intervene if there's a problem.
Millions of French citizens will have their eyes glued to the aerial display, and therefore on you! Are you nervous? Do you feel the pressure?
I will probably be nervous on the day but I'm not worried. I flew with the Mirage 2000D for over 30 years, flying over dangerous battle zones where we knew our lives may be at stake. But the Bastille Day parade is an unmissable event for the French with their Armies and, with it, comes some pressure in spite of all that. It is our duty to be on top of our game for this national event.
Captain Romain: reservist and engineer at Safran
Captain Romain joined the French Air Force in 1988, becoming a Combat Navigator in fighter units in 1991, firstly in Mirage 2000Ns until 1995 and then in Mirage 2000Ds from then on. In 2012, he left active service to join the Operational Reserve and civilian life. In 2017, he joined Safran Electronics & Defense as a pre-sales engineer and Remote Pilot on the Patroller program. As a reservist, Captain Romain carries out operational service two days a month on average, mainly to conduct test flights on the Mirage 2000D as part of France's CEAM or Air Warfare Center. To date, he has flown almost 4,000 hours in military aircraft.