Sebastien Loeb has made the most of a brief break in his bid to secure the 2008 World Rally Championship title by joining members of the Patrouille de France formation flying team for a passenger ride in an Alpha jet.
For his maiden flight, Loeb took a flight over the landscapes of France's Provence region and the French Alps alongside Captain Ludovic Bourgeon, the team's second solo pilot.
The hour-long excursion saw the nine Alpha Jets pass over the Sainte Baume Mountain, Saint Tropez, Orange and Gap. The Patrouille de France concluded the flight with a short aerobatic display over the airfield.
"It was an unforgettable experience, and a dream come true for me," Loeb said. "The Patrouille de France represents France across the world and I am proud to have been invited to join them today. They are all passionate about their flying and there are several parallels with rallying, including the efficiency of the vocabulary and terms they use to communicate from plane to plane, which wasn't unlike the pacenotes we use on stages. You could also sense the complicity that exists between the pilots and their technical team.
"I'm not used to being a passenger, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It wasn't scary, either; Captain Bourgeon's flying is extremely precise and he is clearly in control. I had every confidence, so I just say back and profited as much as I could from the flight.
"I was particularly impressed by how close the planes were when we were flying in formation. The aerobatics were simply breathtaking and I have to say that my anti-G flying suit was very effective! Hopefully, I will be able to return the favour and give the members of the Patrouille de France a chance to sample my world very soon…"