Yeovilton pulls out all the stops
RNAS Yeovilton’s International Air Day (IAD) on 7 July 2018 had a wide public appeal with a truly international line-up of aircraft spanning the decades since WWII and a bonus glance at the future. Not surprisingly, helicopters were very well represented with no fewer than eighteen different types on the ground, ranging from The Flying
Bulls’ historic Bristol Sycamore and an Army Air Corps Skeeter to today’s Wildcats and NH90S. Of note was a Lithuanian AF Mil Mi-8 ‘Hip’ and the final UK flying display by an in-service Sea King prior to the last ASAC.7 ‘Baggers’ being retired in September.
Naval heritage was well to the fore with the return of the RN Historic Flight’s Swordfish and Navy Wings’ Sea Fury T20 to the flying display. The latter helped reprise the 1952 Korean War combat success of the RN piston fighter over the jet-engined MIG-15, represented by the NAFHS’S Polish-built SBLIM-2. The FAA Museum contributed a Sea King HAS5, Wessex HU5, Wasp HAS1 and Sea Hawk to the static park alongside the Yeovilton-based Phantom FG1 and Sea Harrier FA2 while a privately-owned Whirlwind HAR10, Wasp, Gazelle and an original Britannia RN College Tiger Moth were all flown in.
The French Navy made a significant contribution with the UK debut of the Cocarde Marine formation. This comprised a Falcon 50M leading a vintage MS760 Paris and CM175 Zéphyr, and flanked by a pair of Rafale Ms. Each of the types went on to give contrasting displays.
Modern combat jets had a prominent place in the flying programme with an RAF Typhoon, Belgian, Danish and Greek AF F-16s, Czech Gripen and colourful Canadian CF-18 Hornet taking to the air. F-16 wing-tip smoke winders and flare launches, more flares fired by a Wildcat and the Commando Assault finale’s pyrotechnics all enhanced the aerial spectacle. Predictably, the Red Arrows brought the large crowd to their toes, while in contrast the Royal Jordanian
Falcons, flying four new air force Extra EA330LXS, gave a very impressive close formation performance that produced one of the day’s longest rounds of applause upon landing.
With a USAF C-17A Globemaster dominating the impressive static display, the debut of Qatari and RCAF C-130J Hercules reinforced the transport line. A German P-3C Orion reminded visitors that this long-standing maritime patrol aircraft is reaching the end of its operational life. A potential replacement, in the form of a P-8A Poseidon from the US Navy’s VP-10, was the focus of much interest as it is on order for the RAF.
The Yeovilton IAD will long be remembered as one of this year’s top three UK military airshows alongside RAF Cosford and RIAT.
Air Day was high on spectacle, especially during its Commando Assault finale
The Royal Jordanian Falcons' first European display flying their new EA330LXS
The Sea Fury and 'MIG-15' recreating a famous Korean War encounter
A final low-level salute from the Royal Navy's last in-service Sea King variant, the ASAC.7 ‘Bagger’
This CM175 Zéphyr, privately-operated in France, made its British debut