«Flying over the Lauberhorn is such a privilege»
SWISS pilot Christian Vogt on flying and taking off
Christian Vogt was gripped by aviation when he was only eleven years old. He trained as a pilot in the military, and is now the same in civil aviation. Today he can look back on many varied and interesting years. However, one particular highlight still awaits him.
Vogt is the pilot who will be seated in the cockpit of the SWISS Airbus A321 that will fly over the course of the Lauberhorn Ski Races. To him, this flight is a tremendous honour. «The flypast is such a privilege and a sign of appreciation that is being shown to me.»
Flying over one of the most important winter sports events in Switzerland with the Patrouille Suisse is something truly special. Christian Vogt is preparing for this flight with particular care. The preparation includes countless hours in the simulator and precise route calculations. The whole month of January until the actual event is being devoted to the training for the flypast, he explains.
Planning and coordination are crucial before every flight. Take-off and landing in particular require total concentration – as is also the case on the Hundschopf, the legendary jump on the Lauberhorn descent. Vogt is used to being focused from his job. «When you're preparing to take off on a runway, as the captain you have to decide in fractions of second whether you can go ahead with it or not.» Not unlike the professional skiers as they thunder down the bend on the Hundschopf. There's not much time left for thinking, so meticulous preparation is essential.
Before an aircraft can take off, the captain has to take the weather, the weight of the aircraft and the length of the take-off runway into account as well as many other parameters. And the aircraft's speedometer will be registering between 220 and 300 km/h when it finally leaves the ground. A skier is perhaps not quite so fast.
There are also a number of tricky challenges that make the Hundschopf unique: there’s little light, a small window for jumping, and it’s technically challenging. Yet the ski racers love it. And Christian Vogt loves the appeal of difficult things. "An airport like London's Heathrow, for instance, is particularly challenging for getting the Airbus off the ground. Lots of traffic, complex airspace and constant instructions from air traffic." A pilot also has plenty of responsibility in the air. For the crew, the passengers and also for the aircraft. Ultimately, the whole team has to work together smoothly. Which is actually just like the skiing superstars, except in their case the crew consists of their trainers or service team.