Air Show Display Pilot turns out to be a Prince amongst men!
(Captain Harry Wales gives his first public air display
at RAF Cosford)
Airscene found themselves in the vanguard of the Royal Press
Pack at the RAF Cosford Airshow, when the most popular member
of the Royal Family, joined his colleagues to present a demonstration
of casualty evacuation.
pure luck, I had positioned myself away from the more crowded
areas and had set up opposite an Apache parked at the very end
of the flightline.
decision turned out to be very lucky one, indeed, for only those,
privy to such security sensitive information, knew that HRH
Prince Harry was taking part. Even when the MC announced that
the Apache crew included Captain Wales, the crowd didn’t
seem convinced and many assumed it was a joke – but more
of that later.
morning had started with almost complete traffic gridlock with
4 miles of queues on the hard shoulder of the M54 and cars were
still trying to get into the airfield some considerable time
after the displays had begun. It was only to be expected as,
a few days earlier, the organisers confirmed that ticket sales
had broken all previous records.
getting onto the airfield was a lengthy process, I was early
enough to take some time wandering around the static displays.
Cosford has quite a collection of Jaguars which are used by
the engineering apprentices for practical maintenance and servicing
experience. Some are kept in taxi condition and are cleared
up to a limit of 80% power settings on the engines.
hangars were open for public viewing and with plenty of retail
stalls, fairground rides and simulator experiences, there was
something for everyone. No long walks for conveniences with
numerous toilet blocks having been placed at strategic locations
in various areas.
flying began, as is the normal practice at Cosford, with the
large scale model aircraft display. As the traffic onto the
airfield was still extremely heavy, it was a useful curtain
raiser while spectators were arriving and were probably worried
about being late for the Main Display.
am always averse to just listing the participating aircraft
in these reviews. That information is available on line. I do,
of course, understand that some enthusiasts follow specific
aircraft throughout the season and like to confirm the appearance
of their “pet” aircraft and, sometimes, even aircraft
we see regularly can be different beasts - depending on the
display pilot flying that day.
year is the 75th Anniversary of RAF Cosford and so as a taster
of things to come – the Chipmunk and the Bulldog flew
a good formation display in celebration of the station’s
RAF Parachute display team, The Falcons, made it all look so
easy and very casual when, as usual, they all landed on target
from a reduced altitude because of cloud cover. The same cloud
cover that quickly burned off, producing a bright sunny afternoon
for the rest of the day.
noise at an airshow? Then there is one cutting edge aircraft
that is guaranteed to provide it. Correctly announced as the
Typhoon, it seems that there is concern that the “Eurofighter”
name continues to be used – it is the Typhoon NOT the
Eurofighter we were told, in no uncertain terms, by the commentator!
what a noise it made. For performance and agility, the Typhoon
probably leads the world and will continue to do so - until
the next generation of aircraft come into service. This advanced
plane will remain the high-tec mainstay of the RAF and no-one
could fail to be impressed by the display.
the Typhoon, YAK aircraft filled the sky with their impressive
demonstration as they employed what might be described as
“opposition” aerobatics, splitting the flight
up into two separate but converging groups of aircraft.
afternoon wore on with continuous flying and high quality airmanship
and the anticipation was building as we were treated to the
delights of the BBMF Lancaster and her escorts – the Spitfire
and Hurricane. They were followed by the F86 Sabre, an immaculate
Jet Provost and the strangest behaviour you will ever see at
an air display in the form of the Crazy Cub flown by an even
“crazier” Mr O’Brien!
and taking off from his moving trailer with a landing pad
only 4” wider than the width of the Cub’s undercarriage,
Crazy O’Brien flew the wing-shortened Cub in an absolutely
fantastic display of how not to behave when you are invited
to fly at an airshow. Seriously, the performance and his flying
skills when throwing the specially adapted Cub around at very
low levels and fairly close to some very expensive hardware.
the three highly anticipated program items. With the Apache
flying top cover, there was demonstration of casualty evacuation
by the Chinook which showcased the agility and handling qualities
of this long- serving giant workhorse. The Chinook was first
used in Vietnam and since then, has undergone many modifications
and improvements. In fact, Boeing have a special production
line where older Chinooks are rebuilt and brought up to the
latest specifications. When they come off the line, they are
similar in almost everyway to a new aircraft. With old analogue
systems being replaced with the latest digital technology and
engine power being significantly increased, they are confident
that there is no technical or practical reason why the the Chinook
shouldn’t still be flying in 2050!
Apache showed just why enemy forces fear this attack helicopter.
This was the first public display by Prince Harry and we were
impressed. There is no doubt that, in due course, when other
duties encroach into his flying career, he will be missed as
much as any of the highly trained pilots currently providing
air cover for operations in Afghanistan.
arrival of the Vulcan was an unusual departure from the norm.
She arrived flanked by the two Av8tors aircraft who provided
wing tip smoke for her entrance into Cosford. The entrance
impressed on two counts – the noise levels from the
Vulcan were exceeded by her escorts but more impressively,
she was able to reduce her speed to that of the Av8tors as
the three overflew the airfield in close formation.
Vulcan went on to give her more usual display and with news
that she might continue to fly until the end of the 2015 Season
was warmly received by the crowd – probably the same people
who have helped ensure her continuing career with their donations.
She was, having found a place in the hearts of the spectators,
one of the stars of the show.
like many of you, I believe we have the best aerobatic team
in the world. Jim Turner and his colleagues have obviously
been hard at it, honing their flying program and piloting
skills in Cyprus,preparing for the return to a 9 ship formation
– and it showed! I refer, of course, to the RAF Red
Arrows Aerobatic Team.
I am a staunch supporter of the Red Arrows but I had always
thought that, eventually, they would run out of ideas for improving
on their previous displays. Not a bit of it – they have
introduced new elements and formations, but, what was particularly
pleasing, was how tight and perfect everything looked.
least that’s how it appeared to the crowd but, knowing
the Arrows like I do, I guarantee that they still picked up
on various points at the post display debrief and will be
working on those – something that goes on behind the
scenes and that most spectators probably don’t appreciate!
seem to be well and truly over the tragic events of the last
couple of years and the return to 9 aircraft optimises the
display - they looked fresh and full of confidence. I look
forward to seeing them display at RIAT where, I am certain,
they will steal the show again!
returned to my car in what I thought would be an early departure.
Some 2 hours later I was still sitting on the airfield in
a stationery queue – fortunately the last displays were
still performing so I had something to keep my stress levels
within acceptable limits!
organisers knew that ticket sales had broken all previous
records for the Cosford show and will have to adjust the parking
and traffic flow arrangements, next year. Being a warm day
and with tempers fraying, without a solution, I feel many
will be inclined not to attend if gridlocked parking areas
become the norm at the end of the show.
RAF Cosford Airshow is set to become a major event on the
Air Display Calendar and I would recommend it as a great day
out for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.
by Dave Briers - click HERE
for Daves Showcase