French aerobatic jet team that has New York abuzz is coming to SoCal

And you thought the views from the newly opened One World Observatory were great — but that was before you saw these photos from a French-based precision flying team. During Memorial Day weekend, the pilots created an aerial tour with wow city views as they buzzed 1 World Trade Center (a.k.a. the Freedom Tower) and other landmarks. And they're coming to Southern California.

Who are these guys?

The team flies in formation near the Freedom Tower.

They look like an invading force from a Hollywood movie, but really, they come in peace. The Breitling Jet Team based in France is making its U.S. debut this year with 20 air shows planned across the country and Canada. Breitling, named for the sponsoring Swiss watch company, is a professional civilian team that performs air-ballet-style aerobatics on jets, which often fly within a few feet of one another.

What kind of planes do they fly?

The team of seven performs in L-39 C Albatros jets that reach speeds of up to 565 mph.

Where did they go in New York City?

Above the Statue of Liberty.

They performed at the Bethpage Airshow at Jones Beach and then took off to go sightseeing (hence the photos). Then they flew around the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, Central Park and the George Washington Bridge.

Why does a Swiss watch company sponsor them?

Over Central Park.

Breitling makes chronographs for airplane cockpits, including some that were used in World War II fighter planes. Its most famous item for pilots and air enthusiasts: a Navitimer wrist chronograph you can use to make navigation calculations. It has been in production for more than 60 years; the company says it's the oldest mechanical chronograph still in production.

Where can I see the team perform?

Over the George Washington Bridge. (Photos Copyright 2015 Andy Wolfe)

The team has an ambitious schedule in the U.S. this summer. In Southern California, it's coming to the Naval Base Ventura County Airshow on Sept. 26 and 27, and the MCAS Miramar Airshow in San Diego on Oct. 3 and 4.

The next performance will be at the Rhode Island National Guard Open House & Airshow in North Kingstown, R.I., on Saturday and Sunday. Check the full Breitling Jet Team schedule here


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