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Lufttransportstaffel 3; Dübendorf, January 24, 2015

The Swiss Air Force, part 8; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Dübendorf Air Base plays an important role during the WEF. The helicopters which are stationed at this basis are used to actively support the WEF. This means the helicopters of Lufttransportstaffel 3 will perform more flights than usual. Helicopters are continuously flying from and to the military platform at this airbase.

The history of the Swiss airbase Dübendorf began in 1909. On October 22, 1910 the first air show was held at the Dübendorf airfield. Since 1914 Dübendorf has been used as an airbase of the Swiss Air Force. From 1919 Dübendorf was also an airport for civilian airlines. During the Second World War there was virtually no civilian flight activity. After the Second World War civil aviation was moved to the airport in Zurich and Dübendorf was only a military airfield. During the Second World War, all foreign military aircraft were brought to Dübendorf; these aircraft were both American and German planes. During the Cold War Dübendorf was home of the Aerospatiale Allouette II and Aerospatiale Allouette III helicopters and fighter aircraft such as de Havilland Vampire, de Havilland Venom, the Hawker Hunter, the Dassault Mirage III and the Northrop F-5 Tiger II. The Swiss-built jet FFA P-16 took off from Dübendorf for its first supersonic flight. The base was the last airfield in Switzerland where the Mirage III was operating in service of the Swiss Air Force. The Mirage IIIRS was a reconnaissance version of the Mirage III and flew until the end of 2003 from this base. Dübendorf was the home base of the Patrouille de Suisse until the unit moved to Emmen. With the move of Fliegerstaffel 11 which flew the F/A-18 Hornet to Meiringen in 2005 the jet age was over at this airbase. From that moment Dübendorf continued as a substantial part of the Swiss helicopter fleet. It was from now on one of the three main helicopter bases in Switzerland.

Lufttransportstaffel 3 is stationed at the Swiss airbase Dübendorf. The airbase is located about 20km from the international airport of Zurich in northern Switzerland. Lufttransportstaffel 3 is together with Lufttransportstaffel 4 part Lufttransport Geschwa- der 3. Leicht Fliegerstaffels were in the 60 established in Switzerland; Lufttransport- staffel 3 was one of the units that were established. The unit was established in 1964 as Leicht Fliegerstaffel 3. That same year, the unit was equipped with the American

Piper Super Cup. This aircraft was used for aerial observations for the Swiss artillery. The Piper Super Cub was a light aircraft and was a great platform which could operate at a very low speed to serve as an observation post. Often the pilot was in the service of the air force and the artillery observer in the service of the Army. The aircraft did not necessarily require an airport to operate from. The Piper Super Cub was perfectly able to land on short lawns behind the front lines. The Piper Super Cub remained to fly with the unit until the beginning of 1973. In 1968 the first Allouette II helicopters were in use at the unit. From that moment Leicht Fliegerstaffel 3 was renumbered to Lufttransport- staffel 3. The Allouette II also received the observation mission for artillery. Also, the helicopters could be used as reconnaissance helicopters in small areas. The Allouette II was also used in the first years of its service as a SAR helicopter. The helicopters, however, had a very small capacity when it came to carrying the wounded that had been rescued. The Allouette II stayed with Lufttransportstaffel 3 in service until 1992.

From 1974, also the Allouette III was introduced at Lufttransportstaffel 3. The helicopter was basically a highly advanced variant of the Allouette II. The Allouette III would be the most important helicopter in that period within the Swiss Air Force. The Allouette III had for years the SAR task in this mountainous country. The Allouette III was a helicopter which performed very well in the Swiss mountains; the helicopter was very suitable to evacuate stranded skier’s at large heights. The Allouette III would continue to fly at Lufttransportstaffel 3 until the end of 2010 when the Swiss Air Force retired the complete Allouette fleet. In 2001, the SA332 Super Puma went into operation at Lufttransportstaffel 3. This unit was one of the last transport units which started using the Super Puma. The Super Puma is currently still in use and will be used for the SAR mission and heavy airlift tasks. Barely a year later, also was the AS532 Cougar employed at the unit. The Cougar is an extended and improved version of the Super Puma. The unit was with these helicopters in its arsenal in a position to carry out all forms of transport and rescue tasks which were needed. Finally in 2009, the EC635 entered service in the unit. These helicopters are used for the light search and rescue duties and light transport duties and training flights. The Helicopters of Lufttransportstaffel 3 are located on the north side of the airfield.

During the WEF Dübendorf plays an important role. The helicopters which are stationed at this airbase are used to actively support the WEF. This means the helicopters of Lufttransportstaffel 3 make more flights than normal. It is therefore normal at this airbase that helicopters fly on and off continuously at the military platform. The EC635 flies barely during the WEF. It is purely the Super Pumas and the Cougars which support many missions. Often, the helicopters are temporarily lent to the police in Switzerland. The helicopters which occur additionally to the police, also wearing "Police" markings on the doors of the helicopter. The helicopters are used around the WEF as a shuttle for the politicians and dignitaries. The guests for the WEF usually come with their business jet at the airport of Zurich. Dübendorf is located practically against Zurich and is therefore an ideal airport for these support operations. During this year's WEF, Dübendorf is used for the first time to house also business jets due to the lack of space at the airport of Zurich. The helicopters fly the all-important VIPs often directly to Davos for the WEF. Also, security forces are flown from Dübendorf to the right locations by helicopter. The Super Pumas and also the Cougars of Lufttransportstaffel 3 are during the WEF equipped with skis on the landing gear. In this way, the helicopters can be used at any time for any task that must be performed. In the winter there is a lot of snow in Switzerland allowing the helicopters with skis to land everywhere smoothly in the country.

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