Paris Air Show

Civilians can check out this Mirage themselves

 - June 17, 2009, 10:01 AM

“Une fois Mirage, toujours Mirage!” insists Thierry Goetschmann. “Once you have flown the delta you never want to fly anything else,” said the pilot of the Mirage IIIDS-EMIR that graces the Paris Air Show. Goetschmann is the world’s only civilian-rated Mirage III pilot, and a veteran of 1,100 hours in the type. He will fly the Mirage in the air display over the weekend, which will be nostalgic viewing for many here.

If they wish, members of the public can go one step further and experience the joys of delta flight for themselves. A small sum gains entry to the club Espace Passion, run by the Musée Clin d’Ailes at Payerne, Switzerland. Members can then pay ?11,500 for a Mirage flight or, if they prefer, around ?4,000 for a ride in the club’s Hawker Hunter. Espace Passion is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers dedicated to the preservation of military aircraft, and passenger flying helps pay for the upkeep of the aircraft.

Returning the Mirage to the air was a major undertaking. The Mirage last flew with the Swiss air force in 2003, before being handed over to the museum in 2005. Quite apart from the engineering task, around 4,200 hours of paperwork were necessary before the Swiss authorities granted civil certification. The aircraft carried its first passenger on September 16 last year. It is restricted to subsonic operations.

The museum was invited to bring its Mirage III to Paris by Dassault, as part of the air show’s centenary celebrations. Sadly, plans to fly the Mirage with the Rafale did not get past the authorities.