July 7, 2023

Capturing the Thrills: Aviation Photography at Axalp Shooting Range, Switzerland

Switzerland, renowned for its breathtaking alpine landscapes, has always been a magnet for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. For aviation photography enthusiasts, there’s one place that stands out above the rest: the Axalp Shooting Range. Nestled amidst the majestic Swiss Alps, this location hosts the annual Fliegerschiessen event in October, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for aviation aficionados. As a passionate aviation photographer, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Axalp twice, and each trip provided unique and unforgettable moments.

First Visit – A Challenging Encounter:

My initial visit to Axalp was a mixed bag. Unfavorable weather conditions greeted us, and the range was obscured, preventing any sightings of aircraft. However, my love for aviation and photography didn’t diminish. Switzerland boasts numerous other photogenic airbases across its beautiful landscape, and exploring them provided valuable opportunities for capturing aircraft in action. Moreover, just being in the presence of the awe-inspiring Alps was an incredible experience in itself.

The Perfect Axalp Experience:

On my second visit, luck was on my side as the weather presented us with clear skies and excellent visibility. This time, we embarked on the thrilling journey of hiking up the mountain in the pre-dawn darkness, eager to witness the sunrise behind the peaks. The sight of the first rays of light casting a golden glow on the snow-capped mountains was something that will forever be etched in my memory.

Once atop the mountain, I joined fellow aviation enthusiasts, all eager to capture the magic of the Axalp Fliegerschiessen event. The next three days were filled with the reverberating roars of F5 and F18 jets as they tore through the skies, firing live rounds at ground targets. The solo display from the F18 showcased the true prowess of these fighter aircraft, leaving us in awe of their precision and power.

But it wasn’t just the fast jets that enthralled the audience; the helicopter demonstrations were equally captivating. Watching the Super Puma helicopter engage in aerial firefighting maneuvers demonstrated the versatility and importance of rotary-wing aircraft in emergency situations.

The Grand Finale:

The pièce de résistance was undoubtedly the Patrouille Suisse, the Swiss Air Force’s acrobatic display team. Their synchronized aerobatics, performed against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, were nothing short of mesmerizing. Every twist and turn painted colorful streaks across the sky, leaving spectators breathless with admiration.

Beyond the captivating aerial displays, the Axalp Fliegerschiessen event brought together aviation enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. The shared passion for aviation photography fostered a warm sense of camaraderie among attendees. We exchanged tips and tricks and stories of our past aviation photography adventures.

Axalp Shooting Range in Switzerland is a haven for aviation photographers, especially during the annual Fliegerschiessen event in October. It offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness and capture the magnificence of fighter jets and helicopters amidst the stunning Alpine landscape. While the weather can be unpredictable, the thrill of witnessing aviation feats and the camaraderie among fellow enthusiasts make Axalp a truly unforgettable experience. As an aviation photography enthusiast, I’m already looking forward to my next visit to this aviation paradise in the Swiss Alps.

Tom Brinckman

July 7, 2023