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RAF Cosford Air Show 2019

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‘The pyrotechnicians were certainly kept busy all afternoon’

Situated in the picturesque Shropshire Countryside, Royal Air Force Cosford provides a World-Class military technical training environment. As the home of Royal Air Force Engineering, the station develops agile, adaptable and operational focused personnel ready for service. Once a year, it also hosts the only air show organised and managed by the RAF. The primary objective of this show is to enhance public understanding of the role the Royal Air Force play on Air and Space Power.

The show regularly attracts around 50,000 visitors per year, making it the not only one of the biggest air-shows but also, the largest one-day event in the West Midlands of any kind. Visitors can not only expect a 6-hour flying display, but also an unrivalled arrange of ground attractions including a large static display of aircraft nestled within a bustling showground of stalls, fairground rides and exhibitions.

You could easily spend a whole day wondering around the airfield enjoying the ground exhibits. The RAF were keen to showcase all they have to offer, today the public could look around vehicles, talk to pilots &engineers and see an impressive line-up of training aircraft from the new Juno and Jupiter helicopters to the line of fast jet training aircraft, including the Tucano and Hawk. There was also a ‘Vintage Village’ where visitors could be transported back to the 1940’s through a series of re-enactments including aircraft and personnel in appropriate attire.

Continued support from the neighbouring RAF museum ensures that the static display of aircraft cannot be matched anywhere else in the UK. Today, amongst others the Gloster Gladiator and newly refurbished PR XIX Spitfire where out in the sunshine. The museum also lent some early marked Jet Provosts to the line-up to help celebrate the 65th anniversary of the type. The vast collection of former cold war warriors from the RAF base itself also made a few impressive line-ups of SPECAT Jaguars and no less than 5 Harriers to mark 50 years since its first flight.

So, on to the flying display; Let’s start with the home team; this year the Royal Air Force have 7 flying demonstration assets. All were present and correct for today’s event. The RAF Falcons parachute team opened the show, as it now tradition. Then we saw the Flt Lt Neil Owczarkowski’s acrobatically flick the surprisingly agile Grob Tutor around the sky. It was a privilege to witness the slick hum of the Shorts Tucano in its final year of RAF Service. Flt Lt Liam Matthews showed us why the Tucano has proved such a successful step up to fast jets over the last 30 years.

Respectful air show commentators will always remain quiet and allow you to hear nostalgic engine sounds when types of a certain vintage display. As indeed was the case when the Lancaster and Spitfires arrived. However, In the case of the modern Eurofighter Typhoon, I am not sure they have a choice. Flt Lt Jim Peterson repeatedly rolled and reheated around the usually peaceful Shropshire countryside in a superb display that would be hard to ignore. Another highly popular RAF display was that of the Boeing Chinook. The team from RAF Odiham demonstrated the capabilities of this highly versatile helicopter to its limits. Despite entering service in the 1980’s, ongoing upgrades should keep the Chinook in UK skies until 2040.

An RAF air show could not be complete without a visit from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Knowing that servicing issues had kept the mighty Avro Lancaster on the ground until only two days before the show made the giant 4 engine bomber a most welcome sight on the horizon today. After a few formation flypasts with 2 of the fleets 6 Spitfires the Lancaster departed and allowed the two iconic 2nd world war fighters to take centre stage. We were treated to a handful of flypasts and the flawlessly executed Victory roll to finish.

This year the Cosford Air Show was keen to celebrate the role of Women in defence. With 2019 marking the 80th anniversary of the women’s Auxiliary Air force and the 7Oth anniversary of the Women’s RAF. Displays on the ground in the vintage village and the air reflected this. Notably in the University Squadrons flypast of Grob Tutors, the nostalgic DH Dragon Rapide and the wonderfully restored US Navy Boeing Stearman.

Another of the major air show themes was the 70th Anniversary of NATO. Numerous international participants joined the roster to help celebrate this. The fast jets such as the Czech Airforce Gripen and Swiss F18 Hornet were particularly impressive. The German P-3 Orion and Belgium A109 also made rare UK appearances along with the Danish Baby Blue team, flying 4 SAAB T-17’s in close formation.

As a family friendly event the flying display would not be complete without its fair share of aerobatics. Today we saw an unusual DR107 flown flawlessly by RAF Avionics Engineer Phil Burgess as well as the popular Global Stars team and an eye-catching Pitts Special. Of course, the RAF Red Arrows were the stars of the show for many, delivering their trademark precision formations and cross-overs that dazzle and delight the young and the old.

Other stand-out displays were the welcome return of the Westland Whirlwind, the Navy Wings Hawker Sea Fury, P51-Mustang and the newly formed Vintage pair of DHC Chipmunks. The pyrotechnicians were certainly kept busy all afternoon. A mock World War Two scenario saw a fiery entrance for the BF109 (Hispano Buchon), but fortunately the Hawker Hurricane was ready to see him off. The Czech Air force Alca role demonstration was even more explosive, its crowd-pleasing performance kicked off with a formation with the PR Spitfire. Finally, the Army Air Corp Apache left photographers delighted with the welcome return of the notorious wall of fire finale.
 
Despite changeable forecasts the weather on the day was perfect for flying, a full-show went ahead, the sell-out crowd were able to enjoy all aspects of the event without fear of a downpour. The RAF were out in force and well supported by their NATO allies and a range of Civilian aviators. Next year the date has already been set as 14th June, be sure to put this one in your diaries.
 

Review by Lee Chapman

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