Friday, 19 June 2015

Jean-Marie Saget - greatest living French test pilot - Dassault, Alphajet

On the occasion of the 2015 edition of the Paris Air Show ('Salon Aéronautique du Bourget') French TV news devoted three minutes to the life and career of French test pilot Jean-Marie Saget - the 'Eric Winkle Brown' of French aviation. At 86 years old and with more than 20,000 hours in his logbooks and more than 150 aircraft types flown, this veteran is still flying and instructing in aerobatics three times per week at the controls of his CAP 10.

 Jean Marie Saget enlisted in the Armée de l'Air in 1949 and served as an Officer Pilot with the EC II/2 AT Dijon, flying Vampire and Ouragan jets.. In 1954 he won an air race between Paris and Cannes flying an Ouragan. In 1955 he left the air force after being invited by aircraft designer Marcel Dassault to become a test pilot with Dassault aviation, with whom he worked until 1989. He survived at least one ejection and in 1978 was hospitalised for three months after crash-landing his Alphajet in a minefield following an engine flame-out over Cairo.

During his time with Dassault, he flew all the aircraft produced by the company and was involved in various programmes including the VTOL Mirage Balzac 001 (III V), the first to use a composite power plant for VTOL and supersonic horizontal flight. Other programmes that Saget worked on included the Etendard M, Mirage III,  Mirage F1,Mirage G-8, Alphajet and Mirage 4000, the Falcon jet family and the Breguet Atlantic.

VTOL 'Balzac' intended forerunner of the Mirage III V supersonic VTOL aircraft

 More on the 'Balzac' at the 'Flight International' archive

Jean-Marie Saget made four first-of-type flights;

 Etendard IVM on 21st May 1958
 Mirage G-8 on 08 May 1971
 Alphajet on 26 October 1973
 Mirage 4000 on 9th March 1979

Below; Alphajet take off trials from a section of the Paris-Le Mans autoroute

Jean-Marie Saget at the Melun airshow 2008

See more French post-war test pilots on this blog - Jacques Guignard - from Spitfire to Concorde

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