Category Archives: airshow

The inaugural Portsmouth Airshow launched

 

A Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan Display Team Vul...

Vulcan - coming to Portsmouth? (Image via Wikipedia)

Next year over the weekend of 18 and 19 August, the skies above Portsmouth will play host to up to seven hours of air displays. Sandwiched between the London Olympics and the Paralympics, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic occasion. It should be a huge draw, and great for Portsmouth. And best of all, it will be completely free to the general public!

 

The organisers are in the process of assembling an impressive array of participants. Already confirmed are a De Havilland Sea Vixen and the Breitling Wing Walkers. The organisers are also in talks with the Vulcan Bomber, various Spitfires and a Hawker Hunter. From the RAF the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado, Tucano and a Jet Provost have been invited. The Red Arrows have also been applied for, although given recent events they are grounded and their 2012 schedule will not be confirmed until February. The Royal Navyhave also been asked to provide displays, and in terms of foreign assets the French Air Force display team and the Swiss aerobatic team are also in discussion, and these kind of rarities are the icing on the cake of the airshow circuit. Two parachute display teams have also been invited, from the RAF and the Royal Navy. In many cases the organisers have actually been approached by teams wanting to display.

 

But it’s not just about what is going on in the skies. Southsea Common will be alive with events, including a Family village, retail and merchandise areas, a food village, craft village, business and enterprise areas and corporate hospitality. Of course Southsea Seafront, with its panoramic views, historic setting and naval heritage, is perfect for such an event. And in a real treat, there will be a pop concert on the Saturday evening – including a Queen tribute act! – and a firework display finale. A field gun competition between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines is also a possibility.

 

The idea is that this will become an annual event, and the organisers Maurice and Steve are very keen to make sure that it is a sustainable event, on a firm business footing. In the words of Steve, it should have a real ‘Goodwood’ atmosphere. There are plenty of opportunities for sponsorship and corporate hospitality. The organisers are also on top of the game thinking about transport – park and ride will be an option in getting to and from the seafront for the festival.

 

Whats more, the event is not-for-profit, and will be to benefit some very appropriate charities – the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charities, The Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. The event will also support the Exercise Tiger Trust, raising awareness of a tragic event at Slapton Sands in Devon prior to D-Day in 1944.

 

I absolutely applaud Maurice, Steve and everyone involved. It has taken a massive amount of work to get this far, and they are to be congratulated. I wish them all the best. Lets all get behind it and give ourselves yet another reason to be proud of Portsmouth.

 

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Filed under airshow, event, Navy, Royal Air Force, Vulcan Bomber

Portsmouth Air Festival 2012

Remember in my review of Shoreham Airshow this year, I hinted at rumours about an air-based event much closer to Portsmouth next year?

Portsmouth Air Festival 2012

I gather the event hasn’t been properly ‘launched’ yet, that’s going to happen later in October, but looking good!

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Shoreham Airshow – the pictures

Here’s some pictures from Shoreham Airshow last weekend:

And last but by no means least, an archive pic of the Red Arrows in a slightly happier time – at the Trafalgar Fleet Review in 2005. This great pic was taken by my sister Nicola:

 

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Shoreham Airshow 2011

After giving it a miss last year, three generations of Daly’s made a return to Shoreham Airshow yesterday. There was so much to see, I do apologise if I forget anything. We missed the first couple of displays stuck in traffic on the A27 – I believe it was a glider display.

The Consolidated Catalina is a real special aircraft that I was very pleased to see. A flying boat not dis-similar to the Short Sunderland, the Catalina played a vital role during the Second World War in reconnaisance, transport, and in all manner of maritime roles. It’s not an aircraft that you see too often.

There was a very minimal representation from the RAF this year – only training aircraft in the Hawk, the Tutor and the Tucano. I’m actually quite a fan of the Hawk, a nippy little jet. The RAF also provided one of their distinctive yellow Search and Rescue Sea Kings, which marked the 70th anniversary of RAF Search and Rescue by giving a demonstration of winching, from an RNLI RIB on a trailer on the runway.

I might be biased, but the Parachute Regiment Red Devils Parachute Display team are easily the best around. In fact, I’m not sure why other Regiments are allowed to waste time and money having parachute display teams. They always land on a sixpence.

The Great War display is always very interesting, evocative of the magnificent men in their flying machines. It’s incredible that these such basic airframes fly like they do. Something that occured to me is how similar the Sopwith Camel is to the Fairey Swordfish, which was present this year. The little ‘Stringbag’ was obsolete at the start of the war in 1939, but still managed to cripple the Bismarck in 1941.

My Grandad and myself were pondering which has a more evocative sound and sight – the B17 Flying Fortress or the Avro Lancaster, both of which displayed at Shoreham this year. We came to the conclusion that the Lancaster is like a solid, dependable truck, while the B17 is like a Humvee – big and bold, but with some bling too.

Some of the most interesting aircraft are some of the lesser known jets – the Hawker Hunter and the De Havilland Vampire are fantastic aircraft, and look and sound beautiful.

The centrepiece of every Shoreham airshow is the Battle of Britain style airfield scramble. We are quite fortunate to see this, where every year a couple of Messerschmitt’s blitz the aerodrome, before the Spitfires and Hurricanes get up and chase them off. It is great to see, with the pyrotechnics, and Dads Army firing on the sidelines, but when you go every year, I can’t help wonder if I’m the only person who knows exactly what is going to happen and when. But then again, if they didn’t do it, you would feel let down!

Shoreham always has plenty of aerobatic teams. The Yakovlevs, flying Russian WW2 vintage aircraft, the SWIP team, the Blades, and the Breitling wingwalkers (young ladies who have to be seen to be believed!).

After the Vulcan had to pull out at the last minute with fuel tank problems, the organisers obviously had to find something unique to close the show. Step forward Christian Moullec. This frenchman’s act really is unique. A conservationist, Moullec raises birds (Geese or Cranes) from hatching, and trains them to fly along with him, in his microlight. It is a fantastic spectacle.

It did feel like there wasn’t quite as much at this years show as there has been in the past. The Red Arrows have never been allowed to make a ful display at Shoreham, apparently due to aviation rules and the proximity of air routes out of Gatwick. It is sad that the British Armed Forces could not provide more display aircraft, but then again they are probably all busy in Afghanistan or Libya. It is a shame, because seeing a Typhoon or an Apache at an airshow could be the thing that recruits a pilot of the future.

It is wonderful that the Shoreham Airshow takes place every year, and raises money for the RAF Associations appeal. Remember, unlike many free airshows, Shoreham is a charity event raising for a good cause. It would be nice to see something different sometimes – about 75% of the prgramme is the same most years, which obviously if you go each year, is a bit repetitive. But then again, I’ve never organised an airshow, and it can’t be an easy thing to do, so hats off to the guys at Shoreham!

(whisper it quietly, but lets just say I believe there might be an airshow a lot closer to Portsmouth sometime soon… I can’t reveal my sources, but fingers crossed eh!)

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Filed under airshow, event, Royal Air Force, Vulcan Bomber, World War One, World War Two

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging

I’ve just got back from a nice day at Shoreham Airshow. But rather than write a report right now, I would like to pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging RAF.

Flt Lt Egging, 33, was killed when his Hawk crashed on the way back to Bournemouth Airport after the Red Arrows display at the Bournemouth Airshow earlier today. I’m sure I don’t need to say anything too much about how awesome the Red Arrows are – in many people’s minds the best military air display team in the world.

Footage suggests that Flt Lt Egging, a Harrier pilot who had served in Afghanistan, crashed after attempting to steer his plane away from houses. The MOD have not confirmed but it is believed that his Hawk jet suffered a malfunction.

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The Royal Air Force at Home: The History of RAF Air Displays from 1920 by Ian Smith Watson

I’ve got to admit, I didn’t expect much from this book. No matter how you look on it, it just doesn’t sound that interesting. Which makes it all the more pleasing that in actual fact, its a very enlightening read.

I’m quite a latecomer to airshows – I’ve only ever been to one back in the early 90′s at the old HMS Daedelus in Gosport, and the last couple of years at Shoreham airshow. Its quite intereresting to read, therefore, that according to the author airshows were the second biggest participation events in Britain in the twentieth century, after football matches. Where this assertion comes from is not made clear, but all the same, as a spectacle the airshow holds a place in British social history.

The main focus of Ian Smith Watson is the RAF’s own official air displays from 1920, until the remaining annual display at RAF Leuchars. As a relatively young service the RAF has always had to gain the respect of the public, politicians and the other services, and as such it has learnt to market itself very effectively. As the operators of some seriously impressive hardware, the air show has become a valuable tool in the RAF’s PR armoury.

The first RAF airshows began soon after the service’s founding, in the early 1920′s at RAF Hendon. At that time it was still only some 20 years since the Wright brothers had flown at Kitty Hawk, and aircraft were still a novelty and a big draw to the public. Locally, the airshows at Portsmouth’s new airport in the early 1920′s drew thousands of spectators – at the time it was almost the equivalent of NASA displaying the Space Shuttle.

Although interrupted by the war years – when naturally enough the RAF had enough on its plate without putting on displays – after 1945 a return to peacetime conditions ensued. Recognising once more a need to promote the service and engage with the public the Battle of Britain at home days were devised. The anniversary of the Battle of Britain was chosen, as it was seen as the RAF’s finest hour. Its interesting that even so soon after the end of the war the RAF was distancing itself from the fallout of the Bomber offensive. The ‘at home’ concept saw as many RAF bases as possible throwing open their doors to the public, with static and flying displays.

The post-war contraction of the RAF, coupled with the changing performance of aircraft, saw the number of shows gradually decline until they were taking place more on a regional basis, with bases such as Biggin Hill, Abingdon, St Athan, Finningley and Leuchars hosting major events. Gradually official aerobatic display teams were formed, leading to the world-famous red arrows.

One interesting factor that Smith Watson looks at is the involvement of foreign air forces. In the early 1950′s the RAF decided against inviting foreign airforces – apart from the US and Canada – for practical and protocol reasons. Within a few years, however, and with the decline of the RAF’s inventory a u-turn saw much of the ‘at home’ air shows being padded-out with foreign participants. Given the ever-decreasing size of the RAF and operational commitments, sadly the only official RAF airshow is now at RAF Leuchars, and RAF commitment to other civilian-organised shows is on the wane.

Perhaps in places the author is over-nostalgic, for example his dislike for the RAF’s attempt at trialling a new modern kind of airshow in recent years. People change, and so does society, and it takes different ways to engage. The other drawback with this book is that it focuses only on official RAF airshows, whereas in the broader remit there are many other air-minded events that might be interesting to research. But all the same, this book points the reader in that direction.

I think any writer can take a fashionable or well-known subject and churn out a book, but it takes a very gifted writer to take such a specialist subject and make it readable to a wider audience. It might also make interesting reading for an RAF PR officer, thinking about how to promote the service in public minds, especially with spending cuts looming.

The Royal Air Force at Home: The History of RAF Air Displays from 1920 is published by Pen and Sword

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local military history events this summer

Its looking like a bumper summer for all things military history in the Portsmouth area. If I’ve missed any out, feel free to comment!

Overlord Vehicle Show – 28 to 31 May 2010

This event takes place every year at the Horndean showground near Portsmouth, and is organised by the Solent Overlord Executive Military Vehicle Club. For 4 days from 9am until 5.30pm you can take a good look at a whole host of military vehicles, re-enactors, arena events and stalls. This year the shows designated charity is the Gurkha Welfare Trust. For more information click here, and to look at some pictures from last years event, click here.

South Coast Proms – 25 and 26 June 2010

This is a brand new event, featuring the massed bands of the Royal Marines – only the best military band in the world! Its taking place on Whale Island, a naval base normally closed to the public. Pre-show entertainment starts at 6.30pm each night, and the evening will end on a high with the traditional Naval Ceremonial Sunset and a fireworks finale. For more information click here.

Para Spectacular and Veterans Day – 3 and 4 July 2010

This event began life as the Pompey Paras spectacular over twenty years ago. This year, for the second year running, its a two-day event and incorporates the Armed Forces and Veterans Day. It takes place on Southsea Common, and features a range of dislays, arena events, and parachute displays. According to the local media an Apache might even make an appearance! The day ends with a marchpast of veterans and a performance from the Parachute Regiment band. As the Grandson of a Para I always try and make an appearance if I can. For more information click here, and to see pictures of last years event click here.

Navy Days – 30 July to 01 August 2010

This biennial event takes place at Portsmouth Dockyard. Aimed at showcasing the Royal Navy past, present and future, we can expect a wide array of ships, displays, arena events, aerial and water displays, and a whole host of entertainment. Already confirmed to appear are HMS Daring and Dauntless, the two new Type 45 Destroyers; RFA Argus, an aviation training and casualty receiving ship; two Type 23 Frigates; HMS Cattistock, a mine-countermeasures vessel; HMS Tyne, a fishery patrol vessel; and HMS Gleaner, an inshore survey launch. Nearer the event we can also expect some foreign warships to be announced. As well as the modern ships visitors will be able to see all the usual attractions of the historic dockyard. The Royal Marines band will be performing, along with the Royal Signals white helmets motorcycle display team, and the Brickwoods Field Gun competition. In the air, the Royal Navy Black Cats helicopter display team will appear, along with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, and the Royal Artillery Black Knights Parachute Display team. Looks like a great day out. For more infomation click here.

Shoreham Airshow – 21 to 22 August 2010

The last event of the year is the annual Battle of Britain airshow at Shoreham airport. Headlining the show this year are contributions from the RAF, in the shape of a Harrier GR9, Hawk T1, Tucano T1, King Air, Grob Tutor, the Lancaster, Spitifire and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the Falcons parachute display team (saturday only). On Sunday the Red Devils Parachute Display team will be performing. A wide array of civilian displays are expected – Hawker Hunter, Folland Gnats, BAC Strikemaster, De Havilland Vampire, Catalina Flying Boat, a large number of Spitfires and Hurricanes, B-17 Flying Fortress, and a number of aerobatic displays. As well as the aerial displays there are always a wide range of static displays, including from the armed forces, and re-enactors. I’ve been the past two years and always had a great time. For more information click here.

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Vulcan needs £580k repairs to stay airworthy

Vulcan XH558 at Shoreham 2009

Vulcan XH558 at Shoreham 2009

The worlds only flying Vulcan Bomber is in desparate need of £580,000 worth of repairs, reports the Mail on Sunday.

In what is becoming an annual event, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust have launched an urgent appeal for the funds needed to keep Vulcan XH558 airworthy in time for this years airshow circuit. Reportedly it took a battering performing in poor weather conditions last year. Weak points on the wings on the wings require replacement steel and aluminium reinforcing plates, all onboard fire extinguishers have to be replaced as do the braking parachutes.

There are amibitious plans for the 2010 flying season, in what will be XH558′s 50th anniversary. The Trust also hopes to feature in a flypast over Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Having been lucky enough to see a Vulcan flying twice at airshows – Lee-on-Solent in the early 90′s and 2009 at Shoreham – this really is a special aircraft. Apart from its role delivering the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent for many years, and the famous Black Buck bombing raids in the Falklands War, there is something enigmatic about the delta winged airframe appearing over the horizon.

It really is quite sad that in a world where the country can find £50million for a Titian painting – just how many paintings does this country own anyway? – and millions for the Royal Opera House, we’re struggling to keep historic aircraft in the air. This news comes shortly after rumours that the RAF will offer up the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Red Arrows for the axe in the next Defence Review. Such historically important aircraft should be protected.

To Donate to keep Vulcan XH558 flying, visit the Vulcan to the Sky Trust’s website here

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Battle of Britain Memorial Flight under threat?

The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is reportedly under threat as the Ministry of Defence seeks to claw back a £6billion hole in its finances, reports the Daily Mail.

2010 is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, so any attempts to axe the flight of historic aircraft is bound to come up against serious public opposition. Every year hundreds of thousands of people watch the historic aircraft performing at over 600 airshows and public events up and down the country. It costs the RAF £3million a year to run. By contrast, 232 Eurofighters are estimated to end up costing the UK £20billion.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight operates one of only two airworthy Lancaster Bombers in the world, a number of the famous Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, and a Douglas Dakota, the aircraft that dropped Paratroopers on D-Day and at Arnhem.

An RAF Wing Commander said: ‘Under the defence review now being conducted, the display teams could be cut. This is part of a cost benefit analysis going on in all MoD departments. If the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was to continue to operate as it currently does, it is feared it would need to attract private finance.’

Last night Douglas Radcliffe, the secretary of the Bomber Command Association and a former Lancaster Bomber pilot, said: ‘It would be disastrous if funding was cut from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It is something special which captures the imagination of the British public. They also do fantastic fund-raising work.’

I has been suggested that there will be no ‘sacred cows’ in the upcoming Defence Review, meaning that many world-famous and prestigious units such as the Red Arrows could also face the axe.

An MOD spokesman said: ‘We routinely review all spending to balance our resources and focus on the highest priority – operations in Afghanistan.’

To use Afghanistan as cover for making cuts is insulting to the British public. Of course Afghanistan is crucial, but to imply that units such as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight prevent operations being funded properly is ludicrous. The reason that the Defence Budget is under such strain is because the Government has continually committed the Armed Forces to operations while cutting their funding. And despite the MOD spokesman’s denials, it is clear that nothing can be ruled out where cuts are concerned.

Historic and Nationally important units such as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and HMS Victory should be protected and receive funding that is ringfenced away from operational budgets. It is disgusting to consider how relatively cheap such important assets are to run, especially when compared to the amounts of money that are lavished on bailing out the Banks, the expenses and salaries that MP’s are trousering and the Billions being poured into the black hole of the Social Security Budget. Why should there be no sacred cows, but plenty in the Banks, the Commons and in the benefits offices?

Lets hope that public opinion mobilises against these ridiculous cost-cutting ideas.

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Victor Bomber takes off ‘by mistake’

Victor Tanker Teasin Tina

Victor Tanker Teasin' Tina

An ex-RAF Pilot resurrected his flying career in unexpected fashion, when the Victor Bomber he was taxi-ing down the Runway took off after an error at an airshow at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire.

The 75 ton Victor lifted off the tarmac after his co-pilot misunderstood his command to ease the throttle, and instead slammed it down, sending it 150ft into the air. After veering towards the watching crowd and a nearby housing estate, retired Squadron Leader Bob Prothero managed to bring it down on one wheel, but unharmed, on the grass at the end of the runway.

Bob, from Portsmouth, who last flew a Victor in the 1980′s, described it as ‘the most terrifying nine seconds of my life’.

The Cold War Victor was built by Handley Page. A counterpart of the moe famous Vulcan Bomber, the Victor fleet was later converted to an airborne tanker role.

The Civil Aviation Authority later blamed the un-named amateur co-pilot, who ‘froze’ at a time of high tension, but has ruled out taking any legal action.

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Portsmouth Airport

Portsmouth Airport in its heyday

Portsmouth Airport in its heyday

I’ve just started a new project researching Portsmouth Airport.

Plent of people have written about the Airport before. There are books about the planes, or about the people who flew the planes, or full of wonderful pictures of all of the above. But none of them really tell us very much about how the Airport came about, the impact that it had on the city, and the reasons for its demise. Also, what happened to the site after it closed?

Work was begun on the airport in 1930, giving local people unemployed during the great depression something to work on. The airport was opened in 1932 with a flying display attended by thousands of people. Soon after it opened the company Airspeed moved its factory to Portsmouth from York. Founded by the author Nevil Shute Norway, Airspeed are well known as the builders of the wartime Horsa Glider, and the Airspeed Oxford monoplane.

As well as attracting aeronautical industries, the airport also proved to be a base for airline companies. However the Airport never really achieved its full potential, unlike its counterpart at Southampton. The Royal Navy were anxious to limit activity at the site, as it impacted on its own flying operations at HMS Daedelus in Gosport. A scheme to turn Langstone Harbour into a base for Flying boats was turned down by the Government after the Navy opposed it, as was a scheme to turn Farlington Marshes into an airport.

As aircraft became more demanding, the grass runways at the Airport severely limited what planes could use the facility, and several crashes in 1967 and rapidly growing losses lead to the closure of the Airport in 1973. The city began to focus more on developing its commercial port, and the Airport site was earmarked for redevelopment. It eventually became an Industrial estate, and the Anchorage Park housing estate.

We know very well all of the developments – the dates, the people, the planes, the technicalities. But what we do not know, is just what impact the Airport had on the city, its people, its economy, its culture, and its geography. These are gaps that I hope I will be able to fill. Theres a whole load of sources out there that no-one has looked at – City Council records, the Evening News, and Government records in the National Archives. There some very important parts of the story yet to be told.

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Shoreham Airshow – the pictures!

I’ve finally managed to upload the hundreds of pictures I took at the Shoreham Airshow last weekend. I’ve sorted through them, and here are the best bits – enjoy!

Me in a Dakota

Me in a Dakota

Me stood in the door - note the red and green jump lights

Me stood in the door - note the red and green jump lights

Always knew those Marines were big lads...

Always knew those Marines were big lads...

Dads Army!

Dads Army!

A WW2 Jeep in RAF Liaison Officer markings

A WW2 Jeep in RAF Liaison Officer markings

Team Guinot wing-walkers

Team Guinot wing-walkers

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B'

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B'

Fleet Air Arm Lynx

Fleet Air Arm Lynx

RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster

RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster

Avro Vulcan XH558

Avro Vulcan XH558

RAF Falcons Parachute display team

RAF Falcons Parachute display team

RAF Chinook

RAF Chinook

The Red Arrows... all 10 seconds of them

The Red Arrows... all 10 seconds of them

is it one of ours?

is it one of ours?

(l-r) great-uncle Terry, Me, Grandad

(l-r) great-uncle Terry, Me, Grandad

This guy was having fun... that Parrot isnt photoshopped!

This guy was having fun... that Parrot isnt photoshopped!

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Shoreham Airshow

I went to Shoreham Airshow yesterday. Unlike Last year it was a cracking day, blazing sunshine and no cancellations. As well as a stellar programme of flying displays as always they had a full and varied bunch of static displays. Dad’s Army seem to be an annual fixture, as are Haurel and Lardy. With such an impressive cast its almost impossible to pick out highlights, but I’ll try and do my best!

The first display was a real rarity, a Strikemaster in the markings of the Kuwaiti Air Force, flown by an Englishman! Its an American built plane, sold to second and third world countries as a counter insurgency attack craft. Next up were the Team Guinot wingwalkers, who have to be seen to be believed – young girls wingwalking and performing gymnastics on biplanes, all sponsored by a make up company! The Gnat display team is made up of ex-red arrows pilots, and it shows.  A real treat was the Great War Team, flying a collection of replica Sopwiths, Fokkers and Messerschmitt’s… those magnificent men in their flying machines indeed, very evocative.

The afternoon saw the noisy and aggressive entrance of the RAF’s new Eurofighter Typhoon, an aircraft that seems to be able to do whatever its pilot asks of it, while making a hell of a lot of noise at the same time. Staggering to think that we’ve ordered almost 200 of them! We were treated to a flypast by the Red Arrows – literally, just a flypast. This was rather disappointing, considering that they performed all 3 days at the Bournemouth Airshow, which is a freebie, whereas the Shoreham airshow is to raise money for the RAF Association.

Another rarity was Sally B, the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress. Happily, the RAF did manage to get something right, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight gave a great display consisting of their Avro Lancaster bomber, complete with distinctive engine tone, and a lone Hurricane. An annual fixture of Shoreham is the Battle of Britain airfield scramble, where the airfield is ‘attacked’ by the Luftwaffe, complete with pyrotechnics, before the Spitfires and Hurricanes scramble and defeat the Hun. Its the same every year, and a little contrived, but I guess its fun for the kids.

The highlight for a lot of people was the first appearance at Shoreham of XH558, the legenday Avro Vulcan Bomber. Flown by Martin Withers DFC, who piloted her sister plane XM607 on its epic raid on Port Stanley in the Falklands War.  XH558 is limited as to what maneouvres it can make, due to the astronomical cost of keeping her flying and the potential for stress on the airframe.  It was still an impressive moment, however, and the classic delta wing shape and camoflaugued paint finish is recognisable anywhere. Truly a flying legend, how sad that it comes down to a group of dedicated volunteers to keep her flying. Meanwhile, the Govt pays millions to buy a Titian painting.

After that, the Fleet Air Arm Black Cats display team arrived in their Lynx helicopters, an aircraft we see fairly frequently over Portsmouth! Finally, we were treated to a display by the RAF Falcons parachute display team, jumping out of an RAF CH47 Chinook at 10,000 feet. Maybe not as good as the Red Devils, but then I am biased!

The highlight for me, however, was the unexpected opportunity to climb on board a C-47 Dakota, a static exhibit at the show. My Grandfather, Private Henry Miller, was an Arnhem Veteran and would have jumped out of an idential plane in 1944. It was very emotional to be able to sit in the metal bucket seats, stand up and see the static line hook, and the red and green lights near the door.

It only remains for me to summon up the courage and find the means of parachuting out of one…. some day I hope!

But back to Shoreham… sunshine, spitfires, hurricanes, Lancaster, Vulcan, and we won the Ashes… would more could you hope for on a summers day?

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Filed under airshow, event, Falklands War, Navy, out and about, Royal Air Force, Vulcan Bomber, World War One, World War Two

Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

Walking over Portsdown Hill earlier this evening I chanced upon a display by the Red Arrows, the RAF’s aerobatic display team. They were displaying over the Solent for Cowes week. Luckily I had my camera with me and managed to take a few shots as they banked over Portsdown Hill and flew low over Portsmouth Harbour.

The Red Arrows fly Hawk Jets, which in their other guise are used as trainers for Jet pilots before they step up to combat aircraft.  They’re also due to perform at the Shoreham Airshow in a couple of weeks time.

I can’t help but think that in common with most British military units, especially diaplay teams, they’re probably the worst funded yet best in the world at what they do.

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Shoreham Airshow

I’ve just been looking at the programme for this years Shoreham airshow, which is on 22 and 23 August this year. I went last year – despite the weather, which forced several displays to cancel – it was well worth it.

In the air they have the only flying Vulcan Bomber in the world, XH558. Also, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF Falcons and the Parachute Regiment Red Devils display teams, Fairey Swordfish Fleet Air Arm biplane, a B17 Flying Fortress and a range of Spitfires and Hurricanes, as well as other wingwalking, aerobatic and ground displays.

Hopefully the weather’s a bit nicer this year, I’ll be sure to post a full report and plenty of pictures.

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