Old Timers

Pilot - - Contents -

Cos­ford wows, Starfighter stuns, and more RAF cel­e­bra­tions

In 1938, the Royal Air Force’s twen­ti­eth an­niver­sary year, 88 aero­dromes hosted Em­pire Air Day events. RAF Hen­don’s fea­tured among its par­tic­i­pants Hawker Fury 1 K5674, then on the strength of No 43 Squadron. Eighty years later, the same air­craft−air­wor­thy with the His­toric Air­craft Col­lec­tion (HAC) at IWM Dux­ford since 2012− ap­peared at the Royal Air Force’s of­fi­cial cen­ten­nial air­show, held in glo­ri­ous weather on 10 June 2018. Giv­ing its first ‘away’ per­for­mance in Char­lie Brown’s hands, the sil­ver bi­plane was one of the RAF Cos­ford air­show’s many stars.

Mag­nif­i­cent static and well fo­cussed fly­ing dis­plays made for an out­stand­ing RAF100 cel­e­bra­tion en­joyed by an es­ti­mated 60,000 vis­i­tors. On the ground, air­craft span­ning the RAF’S past cen­tury− some lo­cally-sourced, oth­ers from much fur­ther afield−were ex­hib­ited in four ‘vil­lages’. ‘Policing the Em­pire’, cov­er­ing 1918-1938, fea­tured Oliver Wulff’s BE2E A2943 along­side the RAF Mu­seum’s Sop­with 1½ Strut­ter A8226 and Bris­tol M1C C4994, and the Great War Dis­play Team’s replica Sop­with Tri­plane N500. HAC’S Hawker Nim­rod II K3661 from IWM Dux­ford, and BAE Sys­tems’ Black­burn B2 G-AEBJ and DH60 Cir­rus Moth G-EBLV from Old War­den took spec­ta­tors through a PRE-WWII line-up com­pleted by Bices­ter res­i­dent Tiger Moth T7109/G-AOIM. Ad­di­tional RAFM in­put in­cluded (ex-hen­don, now Cos­ford) Boul­ton Paul Defiant I N1671, Lysander III R9125−shown mid-ren­o­va­tion−and Gla­di­a­tor I K8042 rep­re­sent­ing the late-1930s front­line RAF.

Dux­ford-based war­birds con­sti­tuted much of the ‘World at War’ (1939-1945) vil­lage’s con­tent, in­clud­ing The Fighter Col­lec­tion’s Cur­tiss Hawk 75, HAC’S Spit­fire LF Vb BM597, Prop­shop’s newly-flown Spit­fire PR XI PL983 and David and Mark Miller’s cam­ou­flaged DH89A Rapide G-AGJG (X7344). Cen­tre­piece of ‘The Age of Un­cer­tainty’ (1945-1999) was a splen­did Quick Re­ac­tion Alert (QRA) line-up headed by the RAFM’S Gloster F9/40 DG202. To its right sat GJD Ser­vices’ Hunter T7 XL573 and Phan­tom FG1 XV582 Black Mike and, in be­tween them, the Corn­wall Avi­a­tion Her­itage Cen­tre’s Light­ning F53 ZF580 that GJD had re­stored and re­painted in No 74 Squadron ‘Tigers’ mark­ings.

Res­i­dent DSAE (De­fence School of Aero­nau­ti­cal Engi­neer­ing) as­sets were out in force. Tor­nado F3 ZE340 rounded off the QRA line, while Jaguar GR3A Xx725−one of at least a dozen po­si­tioned around the site−and Tor­nado GR1 ZD793 made a sand-painted Gulf War trio with GJD’S Buc­ca­neer S2B XX889

from Brunt­ingth­orpe. Ex­tracted from lo­cal stor­age, the Boul­ton Paul As­so­ci­a­tion’s Bal­liol T2 replica, built around the cock­pit of gen­uine ex­am­ple WN149, stood out among more com­monly-seen trainer de­signs. Flown in from North Weald, Jet Provost T3A XN459 was eye-catch­ing in its new Red Pel­i­cans scheme, while the York­shire He­li­copter Preser­va­tion Group’s Whirl­wind HAR10 XP345 made a pleas­ing search and res­cue trio with DSAE’S Wes­sex HC2 XR498 and Sea King HAR3 XZ596.

‘The New Mil­len­nium’ (2000-top­re­sent) brought the story up-to­date with the new-gen­er­a­tion H135 Juno and H145 Jupiter T1 train­ing he­li­copters, Grob 120TP ‘Pre­fect’ ba­sic trainer and, rep­re­sented in model form, the F-35B Light­ning II. Pe­riod ve­hi­cles, reen­ac­tors and var­i­ous other tableaux added much extra at­mos­phere to this static ar­ray which alone formed a very wor­thy RAF100 trib­ute.

On top of it, though, came six hours’ fly­ing. The pro­gramme opened, as is stan­dard, with the RAF Fal­cons but there­after pro­ceeded chrono­log­i­cally, from the Great War Dis­play Team’s four­ship (SE5A, BE2C and Avro 504K) com­bat swirls to the Ty­phoon FGR4’S high-en­ergy ma­noeu­vring. High­lights were plen­ti­ful and they in­cluded John Ro­main’s grace­ful Blen­heim dis­play, a rare view of the BBMF’S out­stand­ing ‘Tren­chard For­ma­tion’ of Lan­caster, Dakota, Spit­fire IX MK356 and Hur­ri­cane IIC PZ865 and the Red Ar­rows. The

Fly­ing Bulls’ Chief He­li­copter Pilot, Siegfried Sch­warz, mem­o­rably demon­strated both the Bölkow Bö105 CB’S ex­tra­or­di­nary agility and Bris­tol Sy­camore OE-XSY/ XG545’S stately han­dling. The Bö105 was no­tably the only civil­ian aer­o­batic ‘act’ in­volved, while the Sy­camore was mak­ing its first of sev­eral UK fly­ing ap­pear­ances this sum­mer.

The af­ter­noon’s most strik­ing and poignant sight was that of Air Leas­ing’s Hur­ri­cane I P2902, pi­loted by Dave Pule­ston, in tight for­ma­tion with a Pol­ish Air Force MIG-29 to hon­our the RAF’S WWII Pol­ish fighter squadrons. The Mig’s punchy solo was among the nu­mer­ous mod­ern day in­ter­na­tional items that broke up the his­toric stream. Fur­thest­trav­elled visi­tor, the RNZAF’S Boe­ing 757’s im­pres­sive rou­tine fin­ished with a fast fly-by and vapour-tinged climb. New Bel­gian AF F-16 solo dis­play pilot Cap­tain Ste­fan ‘Vador’ Darte’s first pub­lic

Dark Fal­con per­for­mance was ex­cel­lent and so too Cap­i­taine Sebes­tian Navi­tel’s scorch­ing French AF Rafale C dis­play – another show first - which won the Hartree Me­mo­rial Award for the best over­all fly­ing demon­stra­tion. In con­trast came show reg­u­lar Peter Te­ich­man’s Cos­ford farewell in Spit­fire PR XI PL965 and the last ap­pear­ance of an RAF Tor­nado GR4, ahead of the type’s de­com­mis­sion­ing in March 2019. The ‘swing-wing’ strike air­craft made two passes within the fi­nal hour’s mix of solo dis­plays (Chi­nook HC6; Tu­tor T1 and Ty­phoon FGR4) and fly-throughs (Juno and Jupiter; Tu­tor trio; Tu­cano; Pre­fect; Hawk T2 four-ship and A400M At­las). These rep­re­sented to­day’s and to­mor­row’s RAF well, but gave the show a some­what frag­mented end. No mat­ter, for this was still a very spe­cial com­mem­o­ra­tion that set the bar high for 2018’s re­main­ing RAF100 events.

From Me­teor to Tor­nado – Cos­ford's spec­tac­u­lar Quick Re­ac­tion Alert line-up

Bal­liol T2 'WN149' was a rare sight among the static dis­play's post-war train­ers

Sop­with 1½ Strut­ter and Bris­tol M1C were the ear­li­est RAFM air­craft on dis­play in the open

Fury K5674: an RAF dis­play par­tic­i­pant in 1938 and again eighty years later

Jet Provost T3A XN459 ap­peared for the first time in its ‘new’

Hur­ri­cane and MIG-29 fly in salute to WWII’S RAF Pol­ish fighter pilots

Hunter T7 XL573 here ar­riv­ing from St Athan on the day prior to the show

All the way from New Zealand, this Boe­ing 757 per­formed im­pres­sively

The York­shire He­li­copter Preser­va­tion Group’s im­mac­u­late Whirl­wind HAR10 was brought in from Don­caster

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