Evreux Air Show
The Air Show weekend for the veterans of the base and the 1965 Thunderbird veterans was a huge success. It was 3 days of a jam-packed schedule culminating with the Air Show on Sunday.
The 317th Airlift Group (AG) from Dyess AFB arrived early and it was great to see a 317th C-130 parked in front of the Docks Hangar. The French Air Force and the veterans were very proud to have the 317th return to Evreux for the first time in forty years. The crew from Dyess received extra special treatment from the French airmen of the base.
The Thunderbirds, past and present, the 317th AG crew and the 317th veterans were given VIP treatment all weekend. There were 3 different receptions: Jean Zabukovec’s old mill now an art gallery and workshop for creating his sculptures; Le Pavillon de Navarre hosted by Jeff Lambert and the French AF and the Award Ceremony for the participating Demonstration Teams after the Air Show.
There was a ceremony at City Hall where the Mayor of Evreux welcomed the veterans and the 317th AG back to Evreux, a tour of the base with an Ops Briefing by one of the Evreux squadrons and a visit to the Base Museum.
On Sunday over 40 thousand spectators were estimated to have been at the Air Show. All the major AF Demonstration Teams in Europe were there and put on a fantastic aerial show. The Thunderbirds and the French AF team, the Patrouille de France, closed out the Air Show.
Sunday started with a flag raising ceremony at the memorial to the 317th Airmen that lost their lives in the line of duty while stationed at Evreux. Lt. Col. Bret Cremwelge, 317th Airlift Group, Dyess AFB, and Bill Lloyd placed a wreath at the memorial followed by Col. Pascal Chiffoleau, Evreux Air Base Commander.
Then another ceremony was held for the 1965 Thunderbirds with French and American dignitaries and the veterans present. Patrice Le Mao had worked for months to find an F-100 for the Air Show, the same aircraft the 65 Thunderbirds flew. He found a Museum in France that had 4 F-100s that were disassembled and in various stages of disrepair. The Museum agreed to take on the project last winter and using assemblies from all the aircraft they made one complete F-100. Jim Timmons supplied photos of the 65 Thunderbirds F-100 from the AF Museum in Dayton and the Museum was able to exactly duplicate the colors of the aircraft that performed in Evreux in 1965. The aircraft was transported to Evreux on several low boys and assembled on site by the Museum’s restoration team with help from French AF personnel from the base. The Museum is owned by Mr. Michel Pont and the web site for the Museum is: http://www.chateau-savigny.com/htfr/0006.htm
B Gen Paul Kauttu, USAF Ret., was the Thunderbirds team leader at Evreux in 1965 and he had the honor of removing the parachute that covered the F-100. “Major Paul Kauttu” was stenciled on the aircraft under the canopy just like in 65. The Thunderbird veterans were completely surprised when they saw their aircraft and overwhelmed when they learned about the 6 month long project.
After the Air Show, the F-100 was disassembled, transported back to the Museum and reassembled in a place of honor at Mr. Pont’s Museum where it is proudly on display.
Near the F-100 was a large tent with the private collection of USAF memorabilia from the base. Laurent Loizy and Cathy Tellier, who both work on the base, have been collecting stuff for years with donations from the veterans and the help of EBay. They had several mannequins dressed in the uniforms of the day, including one of Major Kauttu in his 65 Thunderbirds flight suit.
The weekend was a great success and with all the scheduled activities many of the veterans said they now were ready for a vacation to rest up!