French Air Force noise at night

Hi everyone. Since moving to rural France from the UK I discovered that French Air Force fly just above the roof of the house ( it stands a mile or so from the nearest village) . I can put up with it during the day, but it also flies at night. I am talking at 2-3 am ! Does anyone know if there is a way to complain about it? Having been woken up 4 times at night recently from sudden Air Force noise is something I didn’t anticipate.
Thanks a lot

You could speak to the Maire of your commune but I don’t hold out much hope of convincing the Armée de l’Air that they need to fly higher when you’re asleep.


Are you sure it is the air force not large freight planes that seem to be noisier than others? During the confinement when planes were few and far between we still had those. Usually at 2am on a monday

You could use to check as this will show commercial flights.

Hi @Juliacat and welcome to SF
It’s a necessary evil, I’m afraid.
If it is military pilot operations they must train at night as much as by day and stand ready to defend the Republic. The lower they fly the less likely they are of being detected by enemy radar and counter attack by S2A missiles. Not only that, but the greater the element of surprise to enemy theatre players.
France enjoys an incredibly strong military presence and complaining about night operations will have as much effect as writing to France’s enemies (currently, thankfully, there are no official enemies) asking them to cease all terrorist operations so you can get a good night’s sleep!
As part of NATO they have an obligation to maintain the Alliance and this involves a massive training commitment reference.
You don’t indicate where you are or how close you are to military establshments/training grounds but please be content with the fact that you sleep safe at night because pilots risk their lives training to defend your right to do so.

EDIT: I see in another topic that you perhaps live in the Charente, as do I. IHTS that we are not bothered by night flying operations in our little corner of the Charente in spite of being in an area used regularly by military training aircraft practising aerobatics and close formation flying based at Angoulême-Cognac FlightAware link


The sky above our house is a playground for training pilots. Each time a fighter jet comes over you know that within a few seconds its mate will follow. We often comment that the Fench airforce consists of just two jets.
Last week we heard the drone of engines slowly approaching and after going outside to spot what it might be a double prop milatary plane appeared over our house at an incredibly low speed. I swear that if his landing gear had been down then we would have lost some ridge tiles. It certainly was an impressive sight.
Many years ago I had a friend who became an R AF pilot. He was flying on a training exercise in Scotland when for some reason a mountain got it the way. Only the good die young RIP Andrew, I often think of you.


Thanks. Yes, I am sure:). During the day it flies so low I can see the pilot.

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Military and commercial jet engines sound different. We also have a lot of military exercises around here, both in the air and on the ground, or combined (paratroopers)

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Hi Graham,
I understand the need for practice but there are some places where they do that and some where they don’t. Our friends live in a different area and they do hear the Air Force , but it’s never at night and never right over the house. I guess the more rural you are the less chances there are to sleep thanks for Air Force. Looks like the only option is to move. However, unless you visit potential properties at night you will never know if an Air Force use it for night time practice.

So sorry to hear about your Friend Andrew’s untimely death John. It serves to highlight the enormous risk these young pilots take training in all conditions at frighteningly incredible speeds. I’ve lost flying friends to what pilots call cumulus granites in a remote area of Scotland (flew in to a mountain range whilst in cloud). So sad.

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Thanks Graham, the saddest thing was that at the time the local press near the accident made more about the loss of an expensive plane than that of a life. The former was replaceable Andrew’s life wasn’t :cry:. It was a long time ago but the memories of our childhood and teens never fade.


Yes, they do. But we have been surprised by the low rumbling of the freight at night. Sounds very impressive so feels as if they are flying lower than they actually are. And can wake us up.


I’m not certain how the rules might apply to French Military Operations but there is a general rule about low flying which would certainly impact on non military operations under ICAO in that the safe minimum altitudes are clearly defined. this paper is the US FAA reference that I am familiar with under my US Pilot Licence Commercial Certificate (now out of currency) but widely accepted throughout. In general terms, no aircraft should fly lower than 500 feet or within specified distances of any ground feature, animal or person except when approaching a landing place or in other exceptional circumstances.
It’s no accident that the (civil) aircraft markings size are defined in the ANO so as to be be clearly visible to an observer on the ground within those limits - if you can clearly see the a/c tail number (ie F-ABCD) with normal vision then the aircraft is perhaps within that distance - a bit like being able to read the number plate of a car at a set distance.
A bit difficult at night, I agree and military markings are generally smaller than those required for civil operations - but I defy anyone to read a military jet ident at 500 feet at mach 1+ :wink:


We get them In Lower Normandy, lower hard deck here in France compared to the UK. Tuesdays and thursdays 2 passes. Dogs hear them about 5 seconds before they arrive. Nice to Know they are there for me but i take your point and feel for your issue.

You can also track movement on ADS-B Exchange. Page go to the Blue Globe right hand top and click currently tracking, allow it to know your location so the map moves to your area. Click on any plane and you get all the info. or use the info on the right, tracks all planes in the air across the globe. Some military ones will not show as they turn off the transponders. Its a good way to track your friend’s family flights when they are coming to see you or your picking up you can see them take off and land. saves on Parking fees.

Good luck with your challenge


Is being on an Air Force flight path a " vice cachés"?

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Swear to yourself and moan to anyone who will listen and buy earplugs. Complaining to whoever is responsible for the flights will do nothing at all.


Down here in the SE corner of 47, we have fighter aircraft well below 500 feet during the day on a regular basis. Only heard the one fighter plane at night, but that was apparently scrambled to intercept a commercial aircraft that was having radio problems 6-7 months ago.

When I lived in Cumbria’s Eden Valley, we used to get a month of NATO training exercises every summer, including contour flying over the Pennines whenthey can be less than100ft above the ground. It was particularly scary if you were driving an open-topped sports car and suddenly from nowhere an F1-11 screamed over your head.

The VR research centre at Teesside Uni used to have a 3D cinematic simulator of contour flying on the Pennines - I’ve experienced this and was nearly sick! Your brain and stomach respond as though you’re actually physically experiencing the real thing

However, let me redress this with my favourite French air force story. I was having dinner one evening at about 8pm on the terrace of Limoges airport when a French Hercules transport landed down below. The nine crew members disembarked and walked across the tarmac. A few minutes later, they all appeared in the restaurant and, over the next two hours put away a five course meal (sans vin) then finished off with coffee and cigarettes before returning to the plane and continuing their nightime journey. Their NATO allies probably despair!


Why? I don’t see a problem. An army (navy, air force) marches (sails, flies) on its stomach :grin:


Where I live in the Eden valley, we regularly get various low flying USA/UK Air Force planes, plus Army practicing firing large banging things! No problem at all & reminds us of our 13 years in France with the jet fighters low flying on a regular basis, still find it funny when the pilots ‘waggle’ the plane wings in response to a wave. Guess boys around the world enjoy their toys, (yes I know, women fly too!).

On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for stopping a war in order to have dinner - the Christmas 1914 unofficial truce on the Western Front…