RIO 2.3 Ecuvillens 


The first Rencontres Internationale Oldtimers was organized at Ecuvillens near Fribourg in Switzerland in 1990 by the local Aérotique Foundation. This organisation was formed at Ecuvillens in the 1980’s to restore and fly historic aircraft. They bought a Pilatus P.2-06 (U-136/HB-RAR) from the Swiss Air Force. Later they found a Stampe SV4A in Belgium (OO-EFD), restored it and registered it as HB-UPS. After 20 editions of the event there was a pause for 3 years. In 2014 the organisation was taken over by the Association pour la Protection du Patrimone Aeronautique (APPA) from Lausanne, but the event stayed at Ecuvillens.


This year it was their third new edition. The weather was more than ok this time with a clear blue sky on Saturday, the day I visited the event. There was a decline in the range and quantity of light aircraft types present compared to the RIO’s I visited in the 1990’s and 2000’s. On the other hand, they had more warbirds and something of a real airshow in the afternoon.

Visiting aircraft are parked in the public area. You sometimes need some patience to photograph the aircraft already on the ground because there are mostly people wandering around. On the other hand, every new visitor can be photographed perfectly during its landing or take off and this, like this year, with a warm sun in your back. Many of the visiting aircraft were put through their paces in the afternoon, including 2 Bücker Jungmans (HB-UUU and HB-UVG), the SV4 (HB-UPS), a Bf108 (HB-HEB), a Comte AC4 (HB-ETO) and a MS317 (HB-RAO). There was also a surprise act on the program. It arrived already just before lunch. It was North American P51 Mustang D-FPSI coming from Bremgarten in Germany. In the morning when we arrived we had already seen the rehearsal of the Swiss Classic Formation with 1 DC3 and 3 Beech 18’s. Later in the afternoon they returned for their official display but this time without the DC3 who had engine troubles and stayed on the ground at Grenchen.


The highlight of the 2018 edition was the first display appearance at RIO of the beautiful restored F4U-5N Corsair F-AZEG coming from La Ferté Alais. It was displayed together with the Swiss based TBM 3R Avenger HB-RDG. Another star appearance was the Swiss Air Force F/A18C J-5020. The aircraft only displayed on Saturday. On Sunday the not so noisy PC7-Team was shown by the Air Force.


During the previous edition in 2016 they had real troubles. They had some bad weather and the then announced main attraction Curtiss P-40N-5-CU Warhawk F-AZKU had to stay in France due to technical problems. Now the weather was fine, and the organisation had invited the 2016 headliner again too. It flew late in the afternoon a few very nice low passes. Next edition will be held in 2020.

Text & Photography: Luc Geys