Thunder over Daglan

There is nothing like a military jet thundering over your head, especially when you’re on a bicycle. Fortunately, we get a lot of that sort of thing. Because the Dordogne is relatively rural, the French air force regularly criss-crosses the area on training flights. (I assume they’re training flights; we haven’t declared war on Spain, have we?)

We first got hooked on fighter fly-bys on our first bike tour in Europe, in Tuscany. A dozen of us were crossing a field on our bikes when a fighter jet zoomed over us, seemingly at tree-top height. Collectively, it took several years off our lives. (Fortunately, those years were restored that very night, thanks to the curative power of chianti classico.)

Now we think of the fly-overs as free entertainment. They last a very few seconds (unlike, for instance, Atom Egoyan movies); are noisy and exciting; and (so far) are harmless. When a jet buzzed our house in Daglan while we were first visiting it, that was a significant omen for us that we should go ahead and buy it.

Our favourite fly-over so far occurred this past spring, as we were returning from the hill town of Belves on a country road. Four French air force fighters came thundering up behind us, following the road, two on each side. They swooshed by in a couple of seconds, shot up over the hills, and were gone. Terrific stuff!

Best advice when you’re on your bicycle and you hear the beginnings of the thundering, roaring, burbling sound of a military jet: Stop immediately and stand over your bike, and start scanning the sky for the jet, so you can enjoy the fly-by. If you try to spot the fighter while you’re still riding your bike, you’ll either miss it, or crash into a tree. The point is simple: Take time to smell the con trail.

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