Breitling x Jet Team

When precision and timing meets precision and timing you get a high-flying partnership between Breitling and their Jet Team’s fearless leader Jacques Bothelin.

How did you get involved in being a pilot and heading the Breitling team?

I wanted to be a pilot since I was very young. My first choice was to be a fighter pilot for the French Airforce. Unfortunately my eyes were not perfect and I was not accepted to be a fighter pilot. To compensate for the frustration, which was very strong for me, I got my private license and flew acrobatics. Acrobatic competition cost me a lot of money, and what I wanted to do was fly more without paying so I decided to go into the airshow business. I had the idea to set up a very unique act, a civilian team, more than 35 years go. In 2003 Breitling asked me to set up the very first civilian professional jet team.

Why do you think it’s such a good partnership with Breitling? 

What we do is very unique. Flying is also a very good image of precision and accuracy, which are very much a part of Breitling ‘s values.

What do you look for in a watch?

I love the design of the Breitling watches. The qualities that I look for are to be very easily readable, because when you are flying you must get the information you’re looking for at just a glance. The watch also has to be quite strong. They way we do things is very aggressive in flight, so it has to be very strong and rugged.

What is it about airshows that still resonates with people now. People fly all the time, so it’s not the same feat as it was 35 years ago. What is it that makes the crowd go ‘ooooh’?

Flying is part of the basic psychological structure of any human being. Maybe people are scared and maybe people are keen and love flying, but they’re impressed. The way we fly is completely different than an airline. It’s like Formula 1 Grand Prix compared to driving your car to go to work.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on Ryan Air, but the way they dip it feels a bit like you’re in an airshow. 

We don’t fly competition we fly entertainment. We try to create a positive emotion, one that gives the audience a very strong feeling comparable to that one you have in theaters. It’s not digital. It’s live. It’s the real thing.

Best way to relax after a long day?

We’re based in Dijon so I love Burgandy wine.

Full disclosure. I don’t know much about airplanes, except that I get angry on them when they run out of the mini vodka bottles, is there anything I missed you would like people to know?

The very specific point of the Breitling Jet Team is that it is a Jet Team. The other teams, like the snowbirds are national teams or military teams. There are a lot around the world but in our case we do the same job, same level of quality and safety as the national teams and that’s something very unique.

Words by Sarah Wright
Images by Garrett Tonge
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