The Heli-Weekend at Grenchen in Switzerland was celebrating its 10th edition this year. For the first time it was held at the start of the summer instead of early spring. This give me the chance to visit the event for the first time.
I arrived on Friday just before midday. I went to my favorite spot on the south side of the airfield at the public foot paths situated near the river Aare, known to me from previous Fly-Ins, airshows and aerobatic championships. The first thing I did, was looking for some shade as the temperature was climbing to 35°C. There was already some helicopter activity.
For the last 2 years the Swiss Championships of Precision Helicopter Flying is organized together with the Heli Weekend. Helicopters were flying up and down with buckets filled with water through some well-placed gates. In the meantime the normal activity of the airport continued. Grenchen is known for its flying Schools so it was a constant coming and going off training aircraft.
After a spirited take off from a yellow Jodel Capitaine (HB-KBJ), I decided to eat my lunch at a bench under a tree near the Aare at the far end of the runway. Arrived there I was just in time to grab my camera again for the arrival of the German CH53. It made three passes so I had the chance for another shot. After landing it was towed away to the static and it stayed there for the entire weekend. There has been a German CH53 at every Heli-Weekend so far. But it was the first time it came straight from Germany. The other nine times it was already in Switzerland from some kind of exercise in the mountains.
In the afternoon both the championship and normal airport activity started again. A beautiful Piper Super Cub D-ERNC on floats took off and a very nice Harvard D-FITE came out of one of the hangars and made a short flight. This aircraft is owned by the people who lost their Broussard at Biel in 2016 during a hangar fire. Now they have based their new toy at this nearby airport.
Grenchen is also the home base of some bizjets and turboprops and we saw several of them landing or taking off. One of them, a Cessna Citation had a very exotic registration: CX-CCT. Locally based Antonov 2 HA-MEV was also active in the afternoon and the other expensive watch company Hamilton arrived with their Beech D-ENIR and Extra EA200 D-EZIG.
On Saturday we arrived at 11 pm. It was a bit cloudy today but we were happy with that. Temperatures were now a bit more comfortable (30°C) and because I was at the display site, which is facing the sun, the clouds made it easier to photograph. The static was filled now with mostly civil helicopters now. The Swiss Air Force was also present with their Puma Display Team and an EC635. Some military paras were dropped by a military Pilatus Porter which landed and picked up the paras to fly them home again.
A sponsor, who wanted to stay anonymous, payed for the third big helicopter: Kamov Ka-32A12 HB-XKE. It arrived just before the Puma gave its display. In between the visiting civil helicopters the last part of the Swiss Championships were flown and a few interesting aircraft came out of the hangars of the airport or payed a visit. One of them was a one year old Extra EA300SC (HB-MTT), flown by Isidor Von Arx, who came by for some fuel.
Although the organizers invited several other air forces to send some helicopters, no one accepted the invitation although a Belgian A109 would have been nice at this friendly event.
Text & Photography: Luc Geys