Thursday, August 5, 1993

Observing the Swiss Army's Mountain Defenses from Above

One of the interesting things to see while flying in Switzerland is the way infrastructure has been adapted to the mountainous terrain. This flight focused on military infrastructure, including sensitive storage sites, airfields (including hardened tunnels to shelter fighter aircraft), and dual-use communications facilities in the Valais, one of the most mountainous regions of the country.
(above) Military depot adjacent to Sion Air Base.

(above) Aircraft engine testing facility and adjacent fighter HAS at Sion Air Base.

(above) Military depot near Sion Air Base.

(above) Civilian and military satellite ground station at Leuk. The military "Satos" antenna (top, covered). Several antennas have been added at the facility since this picture was taken, including specialized equipment to run the new "ONYX" signals intelligence system operated by Switzerland's intelligence services. Data is shared with facilities located in Zimmerwald, Heimenschwand and Berne.

(above) Military storage facility (including tunnels) just west of Untere Wehreye.

(above) Military airfield and hardened aircraft tunnels (above far right and next two photos below) at Turtmann (no long an active military base).

(above) Military airstrip at Munster (no long an active military facility).

(above) Military airbase and hardened aircraft tunnels (center/top) at Raron.

(above) Military/civilian communications facility southeast of Visp.

(below) Final approach for Runway 08 at Sion.

Copyright © 1993-2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted.

Saturday, July 3, 1993

Flying over Central Switzerland

In the summer of 1993, I went flying in central Switzerland, leaving from the grass strip at Thun Airfield. The airstrip is located in a Swiss Army practice range, used mostly by armored vehicles. As second in command, I flew part of the flight, which included flying over Lake Thun, past Spiez, over Interlaken and Lake Brienz, past Brienz and making a u-turn over Meiringen Air Base (which is closed on weekends). Meiringen AB is one of Switzerland's most secretive sites, because in addition to being an airbase, it has two nearby hardened aircraft shelters (tunnels housing Mirage, F-5 and Hunter aircraft), which will be modernized and expanded to three tunnels to protect over twenty FA-18 aircraft which Switzerland recently acquired.

(above) Preflight check (notice the Swiss tanks in the background!).

(above) View of hangar while taking off from the grass strip.

(above) Immediately after takeoff I flew over Pz-68 tanks practicing on the field.

(above) Flying over Interlaken Air Base.

(above) Approaching Meiringen Air Base.

(above) Flying over the two mountain aircraft shelter entrances at Meiringen Air Base (each leads to a hardened tunnel for Mirage III, F-5E and Hunter fighters).

(above) Returning west, I flew past the lakefront town of Brienz.

(above) Flying over Interlaken (the famous Victoria Jungfrau Resort in center).

(above) Thun is home to Switzerland's main armored vehicle manufacture, assembly and maintenance facilities.

(above) Many of the Swiss Army's armored units train in and around Thun's army base.

(above) At the center of Thun's military base, not far from the airfield is a collection of old armored vehicles from all over the world.

Copyright © 2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted.

Thursday, March 4, 1993

Flying Around North Texas

For the next year after passing my check ride, I spent much of my flying time from Addison Airport nearby areas in northern Texas. For simple touch-n-go practice I usually flew to Denton, although weekends were pretty busy.

(above) Heading out in a C-150 with my buddy Doug (was my instructor before the Check Ride).

(above) This C-150 belongs in a museum -- old and cranky, but I flew it anyway.

(above) Filling the tanks before the heading north.

(above) Addison Airport from above, exiting the pattern.

(above) Flying over Lake Lewisville, southeast of Denton.

(above) Downwind at Denton Airport.

(above) University of North Texas campus in Denton (looking north).

(above) Abandoned Boeing 727, DC-8 and DC-9 aircraft at Grayson County Airport.

(above) A close-up of the aircraft graveyard.