report by: Mike Danks
October is the time of year that many an aviation enthusiast heads to Switzerland to the live fire exercise at AXALP. I decided to make that trip in 2016.
Militärflugplatz Emmen is located one hour south of Zurich, just north of the town of Emmen. Although not having the backdrop of some of the other Schweizer Luftwaffe (Swiss Air Force) bases in Switzerland the variety of aircraft that are based at Emmen, means a great chance of photographing the majority of the fixed wing aircraft.
The aircraft based at Emmen are: –
- Luftransport Staffel 7 Pilatus PC-6
- Pilotenschule Pilatus PC-21
- Zielflugstaffel 12 Pilatus PC-9
- Patrouille de Suisse Northrop F-5E
Arriving from the north you end up looking directly down runway 22 with all of the airfield buildings on the right had side. Turning right at the roundabout you head towards the spotters area driving through parts of the base that are now unused and arrive at the parking area on the left, opposite the military barracks. The parking is close to the backs of some of the drive through hangars, which on both visits had a number of the Pilotenschule (pilots school) PC-21s inside. The PC-21s are used for advanced pilot training before they head off to their new squadron to fly either the F-5E or F/A-18. There is a preserved Hawker Hunter F-58 (J4070) at the spotters area which is in great condition and free from clutter for photos.
The raised area that overlooks the base has information regarding the Patrouille de Suisse flying programme for the year and about their history, with some interesting photos. From here you can view across to the RUAG Aviation area, where they provide maintenance, repair, overhaul services and upgrades for the Swiss Air Force and other civil and military aircraft.
Standing on the spotters area you get an unobstructed view over the fence of the runway and taxiways leading to and from the hangars. The main area of the base is off to your left where you can see some of the other based aircraft through some trees.
On both visits the Pilotenschule PC-21s flew a four ship mission. With their bright red scheme and fighter-esque shape these aircraft are extremely photogenic, especially on a dull day.
Another spot I photographed from was opposite the Emmi factory where there is a small parking area off Hasli road. The photo of the AS532UL Cougar was taken at this spot.
If you are heading to AXALP for a few days I would definitely recommend stopping off at Emmen with the possibility of seeing a wide variety of the Swiss Air Forces aircraft.