arrived at RAF Waddingon after three and a half hour journey
a via the A15 at around 08:10 and to our surprise there were
no traffic tailbacks as in previous years attending the Waddington
International air show and went straight onto the the airfield
to a very small queue at the ticket booths and from then on
it was smoothly onto the parking areas with no trouble at all,
a very good effort by the organisers and traffic marshalls.
signing in at the press enclosure I thought I would join the
masses who were already filling the flightline and found a suitable
gap to setup my folding chair and camera gear ready for what
was advertised on the Waddington air show website. we were in
for some rare treats this year which I will go into detail later.
A few minutes after setting up the skies darkened and the heavens
opened up in time for the start of the show which was the flypast
from the Rivet Joint and Sentinel R1, both 54 Squadron displaying
at their home base RAF Waddington, sheltering under our umbrella
we grabbed a quick couple of shots but these were purely for
the record considering the deluge we were under at the time.
Dutch display team in its resplendent orange livery was up during
a nice break in the clouds, which lent itself well to airshow
photoraphy and a superb take off from Captain Stefan "Stitch"
Hutten of the RNLAF accompanied by the deafening roar of the
General Dynamics engine with the afterburners in full swing
was a visual treat with the backdrop of fluffy clouds and sunshine
accentuating the display from the Orange F16 with its accompanying
Squadron's Tornado GR4 role demo with the Tornado GR4 pair'
always gets the publics attention (callsign Poker1 and Poker2)
with the explosive pyrotechnic display and the high speed wing
swept simulated attack on insurgent postions showing how their
cummulative years of training are put to the ultimate test.
The Panavia Tornado GR4 role demo is high on my list of favourite
airshow appearances and those in the forces and the airshow
community were both shocked and saddened to hear of the recent
incident and subsequent loss of crew which two of XV reserve
Squadron's Tornado GR4's in the Moray Firth which was on the
news only a few days after Waddington 2012.
then decided on my customary walk around of the trade stands
and to have a look at the static displays which were covering
much more ground than I had anticipated. I was very happy to
see a GAF Phantom as it is an aircraft that has eluded me for
some time and I was wanting a few shots of it static or flying
before the Phantom's imminent retirement.
after quite a few shots from different angles for my archives
I moved further down the static display until I arrived at the
Panavia Tornado GR4 of 41 Squadron Coningsby where one of the
crew was quite happily answering questions from various members
of the public about the role of the Tornado and life in the
forces, a gent with a few kids in tow was also talking to the
crew member and then the youngsters were invited to have their
photograph taken alongside the GR4 and the pilot which made
their day and put a huge smile on their faces.
down on the static display I noticed the 100 Squadron Hawk which
has the paint scheme of a WW2 Lancaster bomber and the skull
and crossbones on the tail, In my view all trainer aircraft
should have some scheme as the Hawk in question looks amazing.
Luke Carlyle was there to answer questions from members of the
public and after a brief chat with Luke about the hawk I got
brave and asked if I could have a look around his aircraft,
he was very helpful and let me have a look around XX318.
thing he pointed out to me and I hadnt noticed was that the
skull and crossbones was also on the underneath of the Hawk.
I asked whether it was RAF maintenance crew who done the livery
on XX318 but he explained it was done by Babcock and a superb
job they have done. The finish really is very glossy when you
get as close as I did to theses aircraft, nice work from Babcock,
lets have a few more schemes like this! Many thanks to Luke
Carlyle from 100 Squadron for showing me around and sharing
the knowledge of how the skull and crossbones ended up being
an insignia for the Leeming based squadron and to 100 Squadron
for sending a very interesting Hawk for static display.
new and exiting on this years air show circuit and seemingly
on everyones must see list was the Republic of Korea Air Force
display team the Black Eagles with a superb paint scheme on
the T50's which were transported in by air cargo earlier in
the year and re-assembled for the display season, some superb
commentary accompanied equally super display flying during the
ROKAF display slot, starbursts, close passes and some rather
sneaky passes kept the viewing public on thier toes watching
out for where they would appear from next, I however got caught
out by each one of the sneak passes as I was transfixed by the
formation work going on at the time. I have since learned that
the ROKAF Team won the best overall display award, well done
guys on a well deserved award.
Royal Air Force Red Arrows arrived to applause from the whole
crowd and were displaying seven of the BAE Systems Hawk Tmk1,
I have to say it seemed like the whole of the crowd were flying
with them when they flew the tribute to Flt Lt Jon "Eggman"
Egging and Flt Lt Sean Cunningham and there the tributary applause
and cheers came from all around and no doubt many of the spectators
felt a lump in the throat as I did during this poignant part
of the display, I am unsure as to why there are only seven of
the aircraft displaying this season but that did not detract
from a perfect routine from the team who recieved a well deserved
ovation at the end of a perfect display.
contribution to Waddington International came in the form of
the Super Puma and the f18 Hornet, The aerial display from the
Puma was to say the least quite remarkable and for those who
are lucky enough to get to Axalp will also see this Helicopter
with the beautiful backdrop of snow capped Swiss mountains and
flares by the bucket load, thats something we still seem to
be lacking at UK airshows is the use of countermeasure flares,
if the role demo can fire off huge pyrotechnics then lets have
flares back too for those split second photo opportunities.The
Saudi Hawk team in the very striking green and white liveried
Hawk Tmk1's also gave a grand debut Waddington display and seem
to be becoming regulars on the air show circuit.
scheme for this years solo RAF Display Hawk is a rather snazzy
version of the Union Jack and very photogenic it is too, Flt
Lt Phil Bird ably demonstrated the agility and speed of the
patriotic Red White and Blue Hawk which despite its trainer
label is a very agile aircraft and slips through the aerial
routine with ease.
Tricolori to me are one of the most impressive large display
teams with a colourful fast paced commentary, the commentator
even told told the crowd by a "3-2-1 Now" countdown
of when to grab that perfectly timed photograph at key points
during the display routine, one of my favourite parts is still
the solo pilot with his "crazy flying" routine and
of course the smoke-on for the national flag colours.
35 WW2 veterans to Brize Norton and on to Waddington International
air show stopping at 4 different destinations on the way to
the UK from New Zealand was the NZAF 757-200. The passengers
were all veterans of the forces who saw action during the worlds
most turbulent time during1939-1945
is plenty of treats on offer from the various catering vendors
located around the airfield and though we usually take a picnic
to these events we also like to indulge in some fresh doughnuts
etc. depending on what takes our fancy at the time, at the end
of the show we dont always dash off to the traffic queues but
take a leisurely saunter around and this time we stopped at
a catering van and ordered sausage and chips, the caterer gave
us extra sausages for free as it was the end of the day (bargain!
and tasty too).
summary I would have speculated that last years Waddington International
would be very hard to beat but they done it again from an organisation
and participant point of view, getting in and out of the show
was no trouble at all. I would love to keep coming to Waddington
as it is a show I really enjoy attending but with an alarm call
at 3am and finishing work at midnight it was quite a long but
thoroughly enjoyable day for me and the spectators too. Hopefully
work permitting I will be there again next year.
thanks to Flt Lt darren Scales for the press pass and to the
Media and Communications office for keeping me regularly informed
with participant updates and press releases. Well done to all
who volunteer their time and and through commitment and hard
work have given the general public an airshow to remember for
many years to come.