Albinati Aeronautics recruits full-time pilots from the elite of military and commercial aviation. Among them is Captain Eric Gerrer – a former member of the Patrouille de France, the national aerobatics team of the French Air Force.
Patrouille de France was established in 1953 and represents the nation at aeronautic displays and events around the world. It is considered one of the best of its kind, alongside the Red Arrows of the British Royal Air Force, the Blue Angels of the US Navy and Marine Corps and the Italian Frecce Tricolori.
Like many of the crew with Albinati Aeronautics, Captain Gerrer has reached the very highest standard of flight training and achievements during his career. His exceptional abilities are typical of the pilots who join the company.
Captain Gerrer spent four seasons with the Patrouille de France team at their base in Salon-de-Provence – one of just nine pilots who perform daredevil manoeuvres in the Alpha Jet light attack aircraft.
“I joined the Patrouille de France towards the end of a 23-year career with the Air Force. It was a fantastic experience being part of such an incredible team. Before that I flew a number of Mirage jets.
“The skills I acquired there made it easier for me to integrate into the Albinati Aeronautics team as well.”
Captain Gerrer volunteered to fly the famous blue, white and red aircraft of the Patrouille. He was eventually selected from a number of applicants by existing members of the team. “It is an honour to be chosen by your peers.
“The training is very intense and takes months of flying practice in close formation. Sometimes the aircraft are just a couple of metres apart, flying at speeds of up to 800 km/h.”
After leaving the Air Force at the age of 43, he underwent commercial pilot retraining and has now been flying with Albinati Aeronautics for five years.
He believes his experience with the Patrouille have greatly contributed towards his success as a commercial pilot with Albinati Aeronautics. “It is all about team work. The technical skills of flying a fighter jet are very different to what I do now but the mindset remains similar.
“I think flying with the military is a major benefit – especially what I did with the Patrouille. We have good technical skills coupled with quick reactions under pressure. When there is a problem, you make decisions faster.
“Close formation flying obviously helps with your awareness but most importantly, it develops your ability to work in a team, which is crucial at Albinati Aeronautics. That is very important in all walks of life, especially at the premium level of commercial aviation I operate in now.”