Every year, in the first two weeks of October, a two-day event high in the Swiss Alps attracts world attention, writes Philippe Rey. Photographers cling to the mountainside and witness live aerial gunnery in a majestic and rugged natural amphitheater. Some lucky observers and VIPs are flown in by helicopter, while others must access this unique firing range — located at 2,243m above sea level — via a chairlift that starts from the small village of Axalp. The final 350m of the climb to the famous Axalp-Ebenfluh firing range is along a narrow pathway, the gateway to one of the most spectacular air power demonstrations on the planet.
The Axalp firing range is owned and operated by the Swiss Air Force (Schweizer Luftwaffe) and the annual 1.5-hour demonstrations put live-firing fast jets into close proximity of the onlookers.
In Combat Aircraft’s January issue, on sale now, we look at the history of the Axalp range and today’s activities here. It’s low-level flying in the extreme!