the weather forecast on the day before, you may well have decided
to give the air day a miss, what a mistake that would have been!
Following the road signs the traffic getting onto the site was
well managed and once on site there was plenty of Royal Navy
staff to direct everyone to their relevant parking area.
Culdrose is located on the south west tip of England on the
way down to the Lizard, Britains’ most southerly point
on the mainland. It is not uncommon for this headland to be
covered in a fog at any time of the year. With blue skies with
high level white cloud it was looking good, in the distance
were large amounts of black thundery clouds but were kept at
bay by the strong breeze across the airfield. It is also one
of the UK’s Search and Rescue (SAR) and its sea kings
can be seen over Devon and Cornwall on a regular basis.
saw the start ofthe warm up with a few aircraft displaying.
The first in the sky was the Muscle bi-plane, flying along the
runway at 45 degrees is still quite a sight that seems to defythe
normal laws of physics.
beech 18 was next up, also known as the C45 Expeditor doing
some gentle rolls and twists.
jets are grounded at the moment, but that does not stop a ground
run being completed, with 3 harriers performing what they would
have done on an aircraft carrier, a taxi along the runway, followed
by turning and then return to the hanger, great sight to see
these magnificent single jet fighters still rolling along. Behind
the crowd line was a row of 6 harriers all showing varied squadron
this there was enough time to have a quick walk around the static
aircraft where the was a well balanced mix of old and new, British
and foreign aircraft with crews that were more than happy to
talk to the visitors. With a Mig29 and CASA C295M from the Polish
Air Force –neither were flying but were nice to be able
to see on the ground at relatively close quarters.
static aircraft were Sea King and Merlin helicopters along with
Gliders from the Air Training Corps, a Cessna C182 amphibian
back to the crowdline for the start of the main air show where
the Merlin Helicopter was first up showing the crowd what could
old airshowfavourite , the P51 Mustang was following the Merlin
and gave an impressive display of aerobatics to an eager crowd.
Blades, who all ex RAF and former Red Arrows pilots you know
you are in for something of a thrill and spectacular aerobatics
display with these guys. You were not disappointed by the display
with plenty of high flying aerobatics followed by the close
crossovers that are a hallmark of any good aerobatic team.
me, the highlight of this show was to see two hunter jets and
a Canberra flying together, all part of the Midair Squadron.
What a sight to see these old aircraft flying so well together
and bearing in mind that the “old” Canberra was
still flying with the RAF into the 1990’s. With graceful
ease the pilots put the three through their paces as a threesome,
then the two hunters peeled off to let the Canberra give its
own show. The two hunters gave their display...
the fast jets of midair was the more sedate sounds of a Spitfire
and Hurricane, with the spitfire in D-Day markings. The hurricane
was in its normal camouflage colour scheme.
to the left of the crowdline in the distance you could make
out the unique shape of the mighty Vulcan, XH558, which flew
up from its temporary home at Yeovilton following last weekends
display, As graceful as ever she entertained the crowd giving
the mighty engines a good run as she turned each corner after
each flypast. The Vulcan did not land at Culdrose, instead after
her display she made her way home back to Robin Hood Airport.
Breitling wing walkers, always a crowd pleaser. With two lovely
looking ladies “walking the wings” this was going
to be a good show, with many high climbs and quick dips it was
like watching a roller coaster but with 2 aircraft and 2 ladies
standing and handstanding on the upper wing of these biplanes.
The two ladies face wind speed of upto 150 mph and upto 4G during
RAF flew over in a Hercules aircraft that done a couple of low
level flypasts followed by a very short land, reversing back
down the airfield and a very short take off, back to its home
RV8tors took over the air space for their display, similar to
the blades although there are only two of them. Again performing
some breath-taking twists, turns, dives and climbs within the
sea fury was the penultimate display for 2014 at Culdrose. After
a great display by XX the sea fury was on final approach when
a red flare was seen and only one part of the landing gear was
down. Everyone realised that there was a problem. As the Sea
Fury touched down with just one wheel down it was kept on the
level as long as possible before lurching over to the starboard
side and veering across the edge of the runway with the remaining
wheel collapsing under the imbalance of the aircraft. Coming
to an abrupt halt on the grass to the edge of the runway and
away from the crowdline the pilot got out very quickly as the
emergency services arrived. There was a spontaneous round of
applause from everyone in that what could have been a major
incident was safely dealt with. The emergency services were
ready with hoses and foam in case of fire, of which there was
none – thankfully. Everyone waited with baited breath
for an update, pilot OK, aircraft damaged.
the runway blocked with emergency services the decision was
taken to cancel all the remaining flying of the day, all that
was left was the helicopter finale featuring the sea Kings and
Merlins. They came back to base without performing.
of time now to have another look around the static aircraft
that are parked around the area.
was my first time at RNAS Culdrose air day, and despite the
traffic trying to get on & off of the base it was a great
day and definitely one to go to again. The ground staff were
some of the friendliest I have met at an airshow and nothing
appeared to much trouble for them, well done to all the RN team
involved in Culdrose 2014 Air Day.
by Ian Birdsey