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RAF Cosford Air Show 2024
‘Tutors are a common site in and around Cosford in use for cadets and university squadrons, but it was great to see one put through it’s paces in an impressive routine.’
The Cosford Air Show takes place annually at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, just Northwest of Wolverhampton. It is a training station, home to the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, the Defence School of Photography, No. 1 Radio School, and the RAF School of Physical Training. Although it has a relative short runway, not suitable for fast jets, it is in many ways the ideal location for an air show. It’s centrally based in the UK, has a nearby train station and is also home to the RAF Museum which is absorbed into the showground on air show days.
The event is now firmly established as the only remaining air show in the UK solely organised by the RAF, it is therefore the biggest chance for the RAF to showcase what they do. This was reflected in this year’s them; ‘Take Flight’ which aimed to kickstart an interest in a career in the RAF and develop an understanding of what the service does for the Defence of the United Kingdom. Guests were able to get close to the cutting edge of technology with RAF aircraft & unique attractions across the showground, and become immersed in a thrilling, action-packed flying display programme. There was also a whole hangar dedicated to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths looking to inspire the next generation of RAF personnel.
Once again, the advanced-ticket only show was sold out weeks before the event. The site can host 50,000 visitors, which can cause logistical problems for the event team and local road network. However, the large number of RAF personnel onsite with help from the cadets are the perfect team to manage this. As usual, there was an excellent range of ground attractions including a fun fair, a range of stalls and the vintage village. The village was packed with historic aircraft including a Mark IX Spitfire, several classic vehicles, and numerous re-enactment groups. The Airscene team were pleased to meet with Up an’ at ‘em History who were portraying impressions from the Second World War whilst entertaining and educating the public.
As part of this year’s theme there was also a range of ground exhibits which included a large ‘RAF Zone’ where the public could meet with serving RAF personnel and find out more about what they do. It was also a chance to meet some of the pilots and crew who were involved in the day’s flying display, including the Chinook Display Team, the Red Arrows and Typhoon Display Team. It was also great to meet some of the international participants too. The French Air and Space Force (Armée de l'air et de l'espace) were well-represented with the pilots and crew from the Couteau Delta Display Team happy to sign autographs.
Cosford is uniquely placed to offer a fantastic display of static aircraft. The adjoining RAF Museum branch has a superb collection of significant and priceless aircraft which were on show to the visitors today, some of which including the matching pair of de Haviland Devon & Percival Pembroke are rolled out into the fresh air for the event. What sets Cosford apart is the incredible collection of ex-service aircraft in use for ground training. The base has several Jaguars, Tornadoes, Harriers and Hawks onsite of which a selection are usually put on external display for the show. This year was no exception, and several iconic aircraft were dotted around the site, the newly arrived Typhoon DA4 and impressive line of Jaguars – rolled out to mark 50 years since the type entered service were highlights.
The weather so far for 2024 has been below par and today was no exception. A very cool and cloudy day for June made sitting and watching the show a little uncomfortable. However, the weather was perfect for flying – a light breeze and largely dry with a cloud cover high enough to permit a good range of aerobatics. There were of course some changes to the planned flying display with a notable loss of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight due to the recent loss of Sq Ldr Mark Long and the Dassault Mirage having to pull out at the last minute for operational reasons. However, the organisers were to reach out and fill the gaps with some excellent last-minute additions.

The air show itself started with a wonderful partnering of the RAF Falcons parachute display team and the impressive A400m. The Falcons used the Atlas as their jump platform for the first time in a public show. Although the clouds restricted a free-falling demonstration, it was fantastic to see the parachute team up with smoke and flags trailing behind them before a synchronised landing a coordinated salute to the air force dignitaries.

Being the RAF show, it was no surprise to see a very strong list of participants from the home team. The Chinook display team have opted for something a little different this year, in their Role Demonstration. The team from RAF Odiham demonstrated the capabilities of this highly versatile helicopter to its limits. The crew flew in with the field artillery gun hanging from below the aircraft before performing a series of battlefield simulation manoeuvres including dropping off troops and a quad bike. Great, to see something creative from one of the already popular teams - a stand-out performance from the pilots and crew.

Aside from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, all of the RAF display teams were present and correct. Flight Lieutenant Bob Dewes was in control of the Grob Tutor, although based a RAF Wittering, Tutors are a common site in and around Cosford in use for cadets and university squadrons, but it was great to see one put through it’s paces in an impressive routine. Flight Lieutenant David Turnbull completed the section with an outstanding display in the Eurofighter Typhoon. This year’s Typhoon is wearing D-Day invasion stripes which looked fantastic against the cloudy Shropshire skies. Very fitting for the recent 80th anniversary of D-Day.
The Royal Air Forces official aerobatics team, better known as the Red Arrows, are always crowd pleasers, especially at a family orientated show like Cosford. It’s great to see the team back to full strength with a 9-ship display led this year by Sqd Ldr Jon Bond. The new display routine is well designed to showcase the performance of the BAE Systems Hawk at its best. Even though its now 50 years old, the Hawk can still impress in the hands of skilled pilots. The applause from appreciative the crowd almost drowned out the noise of from the Rolls Royce Adour engines. In addition to the traditional RAF display teams, it was also fantastic to see the F35 Lightning II in it’s brand-new role demonstration and also a number of flypasts from RAF assets including two A400m Atlas transport aircraft, two BAe Systems Hawk T2s and the famous VIP Voyager KC3
The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace) added to the display this year with two fantastic additions. A superb aerobatic routine from Extra 330 from Equipe de Voltige and also the hotly anticipated role demonstration from the Couteau Delta Mirage 2000D Display Pair. The two fast jets provided a tactical display showcasing how the aircraft would operate in a field setting. The impressive performance grabbed the crowd’s attention with its thunderous high-speed passes. The warming afterburners were most welcome on this cold June day.
The show was also packed with civilian aircraft including aerobatics from the frantic muscle biplane of Rich Goodwin. We were also able to see last year’s flying display award winner, Christophe Simon in action, who once again flew a Tiger Club owned Murdy CAP 10 in a well-planned routine that was ever twisting, turning and rolling. It was also great to see a good collection of flying classic jets including the Yellowjack colour-schemed Gnat helping to mark 60 years of the Red Arrows and two different marks of Jet Provost to commemorate 70 years since the types first flight.
The Royal Navy were also in action today with the return of the Black Cats in a solo display of the AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2. It was great to see this nimble aircraft back in the air show line-up. Throughout the day we were treated to several rotary displays including the Navy Wings Wasp – which formed up with the Wildcat to open the display. The unique sound of the classic Rolls-Royce Nimbus engine filled the airfield as the gangly looking Wasp helicopter danced around the sky.

A Cosford first of a four-aircraft display from the Gazelle Squadron was also great to see. Some awesome precision flying from the team.
There were plenty of other historic aircraft in the line up too. The Rolls Royce heritage flight sent both their P51 Mustang and Griffon engine Spitfire and a civilian operated Hawker Hurricane helped to plug the gap left by the BBMF. We also saw Boeing B17 Sally B and the Consolidated Catalina for full solo displays both on away trips from their Duxford base.
Although last minute cancellations had the organisers thinking on their feet, this was another vintage Cosford Air Show. The RAF put in a fantastic showing, offering a great range of flypasts displays from their own assets. There are not many shows where you can see all the RAF’s teams in action alongside some unusual frontline flypasts. Of course, the show is very family friendly and provides excellent ground entertainment and a good range of different flying acts. The show also serves to educate us on what the RAF do for us – and they did just that. The show will return next year on June Sunday 8th June 2025– save the date!

Review by Lee Chapman.