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Pilot Story - GIGN Ops

Dernière mise à jour : 16 mai 2021

Airplane: Transall C160.

Crew: 3 (1 captain, 1 pilot, 1 flight engineer).

Year 1994.

Air Force Base: Evreux “BA 105”.

12:30AM. We're called by the base's duty officer. We're “on call”, ready to go, 24/7, where we have to be airborne in less than an hour. We had to takeoff within the shortest delays towards Villacoublay “BA 107”, to pick up the “GIGN”. A crazed gunman is entrenched at his home, shooting at the neighborhood in the Carcassonne's vicinity.

01:15PM. We're flying to Villacoublay. Landing at 1:45PM.

03:00PM. Taking off from Villacoublay, towards Carcassonne. It took us an hour and a half to coordinate with the GIGN, and load all their necessary material. There was as well a bulletproof Renault 21 and a Trafic van. 04:45PM. Landing in Carcassonne. The GIGN is on its way to the intervention's place. We're waiting for their return while saying hello to the ATCs in the control tower.

09:00PM. Still with the ATC, the last flight of the day being at 10:00PM, the airport is supposed to be closed just after this takeoff. The GIGN is still in intervention.

10:30PM. Carcassonne airport closes. We are with a bunch of policemen waiting for updates.

00:30PM. Radio crackles. “End of the intervention” . The GIGN is coming back to the airport, and they want to come back to Paris as soon as possible. We explain them that the airport is now closed, and that we need an authorization from the highest authorities, in Paris, to takeoff. Our coordination center refuses.

12:45PM. The GIGN's chief calls Paris, trying to make things move. 01:00AM. We're finally cleared for takeoff, from a non-controlled, closed airfield, by our coordination center, apparently pressured by a highly placed person in Paris…

01:30AM. We're setting up the night takeoff procedure from a non-controlled airfield, without any light. We're using cars and motorcycles to mark 800m of runway needed by our Transall to takeoff. The first lights will announce 200m, the seconds 600m and the last ones 1000m. With this system, we're able to takeoff safely in extremely unusual conditions.

01:45AM. We're taking off from Carcassonne, contacting Toulouse Information to file an IFR flight plan followed by its activation, to return home.

03:15AM. Landing at Villacoublay.

End of the day for these extraordinary men, saving lives at the price of theirs, without forgetting the aircrews, allowing them to be on site as soon as possible.


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