The Lauberhorn flight

The Ski World Cup arrives in Wengen every January to test the participants over the longest route of the circuit, which runs from the top of the Lauberhorn to the finishing area near the village. Although the scenes all over the mountain are all pretty spectacular for both landscape and sport photographers, my aim for many years has been to attend for one reason: the combined air display of the Patrouille Suisse and SWISS airliner.

I’ve yet to see the show live, either because I’ve been elsewhere on this weekend in January or because the races or air show have been cancelled due to poor weather conditions. After getting up well before sunrise this morning and checking all the weather reports and radar forecasts, the conditions were due to be perfect, so I packed my camera bag, wrapped up for the very low temperatures, and headed for the Männlichen peak to capture the show.

On arrival, the weather seemed to be perfect, with clear skies and some photogenic cloud in the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen valleys. However, fate often takes a hand, and the cloud chose to begin rising just as the planes arrived, to obscure much of the show.

Near-perfect conditions before the show…
…and a complete white-out due to cloud during the main part of the show

I managed to get a few shots between the cloud banks, but although I’m happy with them, they’re not the shots I’d envisaged when I planned my trip. From this experience, I’ve learned that the planes are mainly too far away – given that they focus their flight above the Lauberhorn and Kleine Scheidegg – and that the better shots (like the scenes in the video above) are to be gained from a closer vantage point. I’ll cross my fingers for good, clear weather at next year’s event – shortly before the twentieth anniversary of my arrival in Switzerland – and take myself to the better spot.

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