Aviation History

Final flight for Swiss Mirage IIIDS HB-RDF, the only privately-operated Mirage IIIDS in the world

Besides displaying at airshows Mirage IIIDS HB-RDF was also available for passenger flights for the members of Espace Passion association with prices around €14,000 for a 40/50-minute flight.

The Swiss Mirage IIIDS HB-RDF (101/228F), the only privately-operated Mirage IIIDS in the world, made its final flight on May 25, 2023.

According to Scramble Magazine, the Association Espace Passion, the current owner, was forced to ground the two-seat Mirage. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation, the Swiss civil aviation agency has not extended the permit to fly of HB-RDF (ex J-2012).

Luckily, the Association Espace Passion and the Clin d’Ailes at Payerne were granted a one-day special permit for two farewell flights from Payerne to the airfields of Sion, Emmen and Buochs. Well-known Mirage pilot Thierry Goetschmann was at the controls of the aircraft for both flights. At the end of the second flight Goetschmann headed for Payerne where he touched down for the last time. HB-RDF will become an exhibit in the Clin d’Ailes, the local Aviation Museum.

According to Clin d’Ailes website, J-2012 has flown more than 1,387 hours. The aircraft is part of the Swiss Air Force’s second series of two-seater Mirages.

The first series of four aircraft is named Mirage IIIBS, while the second series of two aircraft, introduced in 1980, is named Mirage III DS (J-2011 and J-2012).

The code name of the two-seater Mirages is “EMIR” (E for exercise and MIR for Mirage). Unlike single-seaters, two-seaters were not equipped with radar. Their weapons were 2 30 mm guns, 2 infrared air-to-air rockets (SIWA), as well as lures (chaffs & flares).

The J-2012 made its last flight in the service of the Air Force in December 2003, from Buochs to Payerne, and was offered to the Foundation in 2005. As reported by European Airshows, after 3 years of refurbishment and efforts to obtain the permit to fly the J-2012 took off again in 2008 this time under a civilian registration HB-RDF.

Besides displaying at airshows HB-RDF was also available for passenger flights for the members of Espace Passion association with prices around €14,000 for a 40/50-minute flight.

Because of the age of the engine and certain parts, the permit to fly was no longer extended. The entire 2023 flight campaign including passenger flights and air displays was thus cancelled ending the 15 years of private Mirage III operations in Europe. The French Luxeuil Air Show 2021 was the last opportunity to see HB-RDF fly at an airshow.

Photo credit: Swiss Confederation and Aldo Bidini via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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