Engaged in the Air Force, this 24-year-old soldier is a falconer on the site in the Paris suburbs, where he is thus attached to the animal danger prevention service (SPPA).
What do Le Puy du Fou, Rocamadour, Beaucens and Chauvigny have in common? The answer could be that the Tour de France cyclist regularly stops there. But, for Quentin Noël, the potential pleasure of visiting these sites in Vendée, Lot, Hautes-Pyrénées and Vienne lies elsewhere. These are thus high places, sacred references even, of raptor shows across France. And he had the opportunity to discover some of them, in the summer, on vacation, to satisfy his interest in birds.
Better still, from his passion, he made it his profession. He is, indeed, a falconer. Not to entertain tourists and / or visitors but in “a scare business”. He works in the animal hazard prevention service (SPPA) at the Villacoublay air force military base, located between two departments, Yvelines (78) and Essonne (91), in the south-west. from Paris. It is certainly not the heart of his profession but “priority secondary job“of this young soldier is of”scare the animals on the trail“.
“Every day, we receive the next day’s flight plan and we intervene thirty minutes before each take-off and each landing, details the person concerned. We hunt rabbits, foxes, as well as the avian family, peregrine falcons in particularThis particular attention is linked to the fact that this military aerodrome is used, in particular, for medical evacuations, while being the presidential base reserved for air travel by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.
To carry out these daily operations, Quentin Noël has two types of birds: Harris’s buzzards for “the low flights“and the peregrine falcons that are”high flying birds“. He explains how the choice is made: “The first are with us in the 4×4 and leave the vehicle to swoop down on their prey. Either they bring her back, and we make “the change” for a piece of food, or they scare her away and they also have their reward. The second are on our fist, in the middle of the track, and fly away to look for thermal currents, finding themselves at an altitude of 4 or 500 meters. They fly between five minutes and an hour with the objective of scaring a large area“.
“I learned everything on the basis, recognizes the soldier. I certainly had some knowledge of raptors and birds in general, but that was not enough. The learning of handling was done here, on the job. Today I’m clearly in my element, I could do this all my life“. On the track at Villacoublay since May 2020, he has one-year contracts as a volunteer, and he is impatiently awaiting departures to sign an air technician contract, valid between four and five years. His turn could come soon…
Country market in Bercy, folklore, banquet…
As it should be concerned, very soon, by four-month external operations in Chad. Without the birds. “It is not possible to transport them, he points out. As a result, we have other methods, which we also use in Villacoublay“. These are loudspeakers, which produce alarm cries, for acoustic intervention, three pyrotechnic armaments (pistols with small crackling rockets for birds within 90 meters, rockets exploding at 200 meters above sea level with a big “boom” of 150 decibels, or finally the shotgun, a 12 gauge) It also has, recently, a very powerful laser beam.
Born in Rodez in 1998, originally from Coubisou, Quentin Noël has obviously found his way. However, he looked for it for a while because he started with a professional baccalaureate and a BTS commerce. “Ever since I was little, I have loved nature, and more particularly birds, he assures. At first, I wanted to start studying ornithology, then management of the natural environment.“He finally joined the Air Force. Thanks to his girlfriend.
He tells : “She was on an internship at a veterinary clinic and met my current boss for the care of a falcon. He kindly offered to visit the falconry. She surprised me later and that’s how I made contact“. He finished his studies, before returning to Villacoublay to take the tests (physical, motivational interviews…) and receive “the good news“. If he regularly returns to the country, he is “very invested” in the Aveyron area of the capital: Bercy market in October at the foot of L’Oustal (where he does not hesitate to go behind the bar), folklore at the Bourrée in Paris, banquet of the friendly Cabrespine… .