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RAF Cosford Air Show 2016



"...the displays did lack the excitement that they have had in the past"

The RAF Cosford airshow is quite unique in that it is the RAF’s only formal airshow that they run themselves, with the support of hundreds of volunteers. The weather forecast was not brilliant for the day with rain forecast from 3pm, the scheduled time for the RAF Red Arrows to display.

This was my first time at RAF Cosford, and it had a lot to live up to from previous years shows, which is always a big ask for any show organiser but with the schedule seen it was going to be good.

The Airshow was also streamed live onto the Internet, so you could have watched it all from your armchair if you had not been able to get a ticket in time, as there were no tickets sales on the gates!

The airfield lies between Wolverhampton & Telford just a 5 minute drive from the M54, arriving on the airfield it looked good with good parking for all and plenty space for everyone which is nice to see with virtually the whole length of the runway being the crowd line.

The most striking feature across the airfield was the Static C130 Hercules of the Dutch Airforce, with queues’ all day long for a look over the aircraft and very informative talks with the aircrew on board.

As this airfield also has the RAF Museum on site there were some museum aircraft out on the static areas rather than being seen in the hangers which was a really nice feeling seeing them in the open air.


There was about 20 aircraft in total as statics for the day, from an old Bristol 188, which looks similar in style to the SR71 Blackbird, to the RAF Jaguar, a Hawker Siddeley Gnat aircraft which the Red Arrows were using before the Hawk aircraft of today. and the Fairey Delta. RAF Cosford has the largest stock of old retired Jaguars as they are now used for teaching Engineering which is based from RAF Cosford.

The show opened with a flypast of the Red Arrows and the RAF beach King in Formation along the length of the runway

The wind across the airfield was about 25 knots, gauged by watching the wind sock being blown about, so it was always going to be difficult for some displays to participate. The first failure was the RAF Falcons parachute team, with the wind speed and low cloud they could not jump safely so aborted in the air without leaving the aircraft.

The first of the jets was seen holding a few miles away waiting for its show time slot, and in no time at all the RAF Typhoon, Eurofighter, was over the airfield with its tail glowing bright orange from the afterburners pushing fuel into the exhaust pods. With its noise and speed of movement showing what a 21st Century aircraft is and has to be capable of doing. The Typhoon is always a great crowd pleaser and no one was disappointed, even though it did disappear into the low clouds it could still be heard by all.


The first of the old aircraft soon took off, swiftly followed by all of the “Great War” aircraft giving an amazing display in the aircraft of 100 years ago so slow compared to todays fast jets and you just have to admire the brave pilots who flew them with no protection against the wind, rain and enemy bullets that would have been fired at them from other aircraft or the ground for that matter. With just doped material, and a few bits of wood between them and the elements .

Seeing two Triplanes flying in a dog fight scenario just looked so surreal whilst at the same time there were biplanes and the, now, normal single wing aeroplane that we all see daily. It is quite incredible to think that in the space of just a few years we had gone from an aeroplane that needed three wings to get enough lift for take off to the normal mono wing that had more lift for flying.

A first time visitor was the Mig 15, which completed several flypasts and was so quiet. You could hardly hear it from where I was standing. This was a very unusual sight to be seen at a UK airshow.

The Red Arrows performed their Flat display due to the low cloud base that was present for all of the day. With a rapturous round of applause at the end of the display everyone seemed happy enough.

As the Reds finished their display so the weather gods decided enough was enough and the rain started, the final acts displayed in the rain but to a diminishing crowd as people started to make their way to their cars. The Apache display and pyrotechnics was superb despite the weather. The weather affected so many display aircraft in not being able to display at RAF Cosford this year, which is always a disappointment for all the hard work that goes into the organisation of any airshow.

This was one of the first major airshows under the new CAA regulations and it was felt that the displays did lack the excitement that they have had in the past, only time will tell how this will affect the shows in the future and if any further changes will take place.

Review by Ian Birdsey
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