A long way to go…
In addition to the transport squadrons 1/62 “Vercors” and 2/62 “Anjou,” Transport Squadron 3/62 was established on 30 July 1970 as part of 62 Wing at Reims. The transport squadron employed four Breguet 941 aircraft which the French Air Force had fielded before. However, at that time this squadron had no traditional name of its own. It was three years later (Febru-ary 1973) that the squadron was awarded the name “Ventoux.” The mountain with the mea-ningful name “Mount Ventoux,” which is lashed by the mistral wind, is a reminder of the special arrangement of the blown wing, which is a feature of this squadron’s aircraft.
The main task of the squadron was to continue the testing of the Breguet 941 in a unit of the French Air Transport Command, to improve the general technical servicing and the process of reaching operational readiness and finally to ensure the training of the crews and the non-flying specialists. On 11 April 1974, the Breguet 941 were decommissioned, because the maintenance of only four aircraft became simply too expensive - and so the first “Ventoux” Squadron was disbanded in August 1974.
To rise like a phoenix
In August 1998, the French Air Force Staff decided to reorganize the units at Mont-de-Marsan and Bordeaux-Mérignac, which were equipped with light aircraft. The Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 was formed at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base on 01 September 1999. The squadron was equipped with three Nord 262 Frégate and three DHC-6 Twin Otter air-craft. At the same time, the Test and Transport Squadron 06.330 had to hand over its liaison aircraft (DHC-6 and TBM 700) and was subsequently tasked with testing missions. Since June 2000 the unit has had a fourth Nord 262 aircraft at its disposal, which originated from the squadron that was disbanded at Aix-en Provence (Transport and Training Squadron 00.044 “Mistral”). Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 took over the traditional name and the unit crest of Transport Squadron 03.62 which had previously been stationed at Reims Air Base: The raven rose from its ashes at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base, and the squadron was renamed Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 “Ventoux.” This unit was tasked with transport and airdropping missions, it supports the personnel employed abroad, particularly those of the Multinational Force and Observers on the Sinai Peninsula, it accomplishes special tasks for the Aircraft Testing Center (CEAM) and was responsible for the training of transport aircraft pilots.
Guidelines for the support fleets in mission areas recommended to replace the 18 Nord 262 Frégate and five MS-760 aircraft by ten new CASA CN-235 and one to two additional TBM 700. After the individual declarations of demand had been evaluated and the possible loca-tions had been assessed, it was decided to establish a second CN-235 pool in the southwes-tern region of France. Thus, Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 “Ventoux” received eight CN-235. At first, the Nord 262 aircraft were decommissioned, followed by the DHC-6. The implementation of the aforementioned guidelines was completed on 27 November 2002 with the official arrival of three CASA CN-235-200 at Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 “Ventoux” at 118Air Base, Mont-de-Marsan.
Within the scope of the reorganization of the aircrew training center, a CASA training squa-dron was established in Transport Squadron 03.062 “Ventoux” at Mont-de-Marsan in 2005. At first, the Nord 262 aircraft were decommissioned, followed by the DHC-6.The recent changes in this squadron (introduction of a new aircraft) and the fact that the squadron neces-sarily bears nearly the same designation than the squadron at Creil - using the same type of aircraft - as well as the attachment to the traditional name and the own history of the unit resulted in a change of the abbreviated designation from ETE 00.042 “Ventoux” (Transport and Training Squadron 00.042 “Ventoux”) into ET (Transport Squadron) 03.062 “Ventoux.”
With eight new CASA CN-235-300 aircraft at “Ventoux” the two CASA squadrons colocated at Creil – “Ventoux” and “Vercors” – will be supplemented and reinforced; each squadron will then have nine CASA aircraft at its disposal.
Words: SIRPA Air (Translated)
Pictures: SIRPA Air