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World War One

Swiss Air Force celebrates 100 years

Those magnificent men: Aldo Schellenberg, Commander of the Swiss Air Force, marking the organisation's centenary (Keystone)

Those magnificent men: Aldo Schellenberg, Commander of the Swiss Air Force, marking the organisation's centenary


The Swiss Air Force was founded  on July 31, 1914, a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which marked the beginning of the First World War.

Cavalry captain Theodor Real became commander of the new air force, which was based on the Beundenfeld – a field near today’s ministry of defence – in the centre of Bern. A few days later, he was joined by nine pilots who brought their own planes and mechanics.

When the First World War started, the Swiss Air Force confiscated three planes from the national exhibition being held at the time and took up quarters on a farm close to the airship hangar.

On Thursday, current Air Force commander Aldo Schellenberg and Defence Minister Ueli Maurer attended an event in memory of the pioneers who had founded the Swiss Air Force on the Beundenfeld, which is nowadays used for equestrian sport.  

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