Cognac-Châteaubernard houses the primary flight training school of the French air force, l’Ecole de Pilotage de l’Armée de l’Air (EPAA). This wing has four training squadrons, Escadron d'Instruction en Vol (EIV). The Epsilon operated unit is due to hand over part of its task to a civil flight school run by an EADS-led consortium flying civil registered Grob 120 aircraft.
The northern part of the airfield is occupied by lots of buildings. Also, there is a shelter area in the northeast corner that is sometimes used by fighter aircraft on detachment. The airfield has two main runways and a smaller grass strip. The west side houses the TB30 ramp. Along both stretches of the ramp there are two hangars that contain the active fleet. Lastly, there is a small general aviation enclave in the southeast corner of the airfield.
From the A10 highway and Saintes, take the N141 road to Cognac. You will approach the city from the west whereas the airfield is situated south of town. Follow the N141 which is the ring road running south of Cognac. Take the D731 southbound and at the crossroads with the D149 you can not miss the preserved Epsilon!
Around the Airport
1West side approach 05 - a.m.
Driving south on D731 the fence will be on your left hand side. After the fence stops drive on a bit and take the second small road into the farmland. Approaching aircraft will cross the D731. If they are still a bit high to your taste, walk along the D731 northbound.
2West side approach 05 - p.m.
Later in the afternoon you are looking into the sun and have to relocate. Take the last westbound road before the airfield perimeter fence ends, this is called Ancienne Piste which suggests it used to be a runway!
3South west side ramp & hangar view
Most number crunchers will opt for this spot and spot 4 to read the rows of Epsilons on the main ramp. Spot 3 is best for the two western most hangars and that part of the ramp. Just after the perimeter fence ends there is a dirt track heading into the farmland. Follow the track, it will go left and right and left again a bit further down. From this spot you should be able to clear most of the west side of the ramp in the early morning. Also, when they start towing aircraft you can look in to the hangars and make some more (provided they are in the white c/s).
4Aero club east side ramp & hangar view
Track back and follow D731/D149/D24 clockwise or go south towards Genté and take the D148/D403/D24 counter-clockwise. From the D24 make a left towards the aero club, this road runs along the perimeter fence. The parking lot of the aero club offers a straighter view on the east side of the Epsilon ramp and the hangars behind. Also, views on the shelter area that is on the north side of the northern runway can be had. Moreover, you can have a look at the north side ramp where the maintenance area is located. You might find the odd aircraft parked outside there along with visitors that are usually parked there. This spot is just too far to read off anything on the west side of the Epsilon ramp, you need spot 3 for that. Landing traffic can be viewed easily from here though.
5East side approach
Lastly, the main runway in use can easily be reached from D24 as well. There is a sand track leading east through the runway lights. Find a spot there to photograph the approaching aircraft. Relocate to the north side of the lights post meridiem. There is a stretch of unused asphalt there that suits our purposes well.
Jan Kraak was able to photograph the Fouga preserved near the flightline.
|Patrouille Cartouche Doré||TB-30|
|EADS Cognac Aviation Training Service (ECATS)||Grob 120A-F|
|198/315-GC||CM170 near hangars|
|324/315-QD||CM170, on pole near flightline|
|376/315-QE||CM170 behind buildings (visible from D149 just when the wall ends/starts)|
|384/315-QM||CM170 in hangar|
|404/13-QN||Mirage 3E, dumped inverted|
|516/3-JR||Mirage 3E, derelict near southern perimeter fence|
|F-BJBH||AT-6D in base museum, ex H16 (BLu)|
|20||TB-30 inside HQ building|
|24/315-UW||TB-30 inside fence, NW corner|
|94/315-XK||TB-30 in base museum|
|16x||TB30, stored dismantled in compound between buildings (probably not visible from outside)|
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