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UPDATED: 09:43, October 21, 2004
"Ballet in air" -- Patrouille de France stages "beauty performance" in HK
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"They are coming..." when audience at Hong Kong's Ocean Park spot eight Alpha jets of the Patrouille de France, one of the world's best aerobatics display teams, they could not help shouting with cheers.

People held up their breath and looked up into the slightly foggy sky where the jets danced "magic ballet" with red, white and blue smoke tails in the air.

The team, which arrived here Sunday for a six-day visit, performed on Wednesday afternoon off the southern park of Hong Kong Island, above sea water next to the Ocean Park.

During the show for about 30 minutes, the team displayed 27 of the total 28 different formations resembling images such as arrow, heart palm, diamond and bomb.

The aircraft towed "red, blue and white smog belt" after them in drawing some formations, the three colors of French national flag. The close and neat layout of the aircraft in the air and their ease in movement into different directions and heights attracted acclamation and applause from the audience from time to time.

People climbed up onto the hills or high-rising buildings, or went to the beach or went out into the sea on boats in order to get a better view of the performance. Some 100 vessels and boats dotted the sea water above the performing area, which painted a beautiful picture itself.

A total of 10,000 people have flooded into the Ocean Park by 2 p.m. local time when the display started, compared with several thousand visitors to the park on average.

As part of the series of events to celebrate the "Year of France" in China, the aerobatics display is the first large scale display of its kind in Hong Kong.

Leader of Patrouille de France Arnaud Amberg said upon the team's arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport Sunday afternoon that it was the dream of the team to fly over Hong Kong, which is a beautiful city.

Patrouille de France is scheduled to leave Hong Kong on Oct. 22 for Zhuhai in China's mainland, to join in an international aviation show to be held there. Before coming to Hong Kong, the team had presented two performances in Beijing and Wuhan in the Chinese mainland.

Since 1953, the team has performed in over 30 countries and has drawn more than 60 million viewers.

Team members are elite pilots selected from different fighting units of the French Air Force. Aged between 30 and 38, each aspiring pilot must have a minimum of 1,500 hours flying time on jet aircraft and hold the title of team leader from his squadron of origin before even being considered joining "Patrouille de France."

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