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Waddington Airshow 2013

 

 

Well here we are again, Airscene are at Waddington for the most anticipated airshows of the season, it may be a long way to travel but I just love Waddo and wish I lived a bit closer. The journey itself was easy enough only for me to be waved away by the police at the A15 gate due to being too early, this seems to have been the pattern for a few years so take note if you are planning on getting there early to avoid the queues my advice is don’t bother!! Try to arrive as close to 8am if you are planning to arrive early as you will be sent on your way without a doubt, not to gripe too much on the subject but if the organisers could somehow see a way to allow participants in the show to access the site as early arrivals then this would be appreciated as there were a lot of classic vehicles which suffered the same fate and had to drive off and find somewhere to park prior to the official opening time.

I signed into the Beaverbrook media tent and we were welcomed with fresh tea and/or coffee and given a quick briefing on potential interview/photo opportunities. For the first time attending RAF Waddington I managed to get my name on the list for the “Live side” photo opportunity as usually all the places are taken by the time I manage to get in to the show in past attendances on behalf of airscene. One thing that puzzles me is the location of the media area, this is positioned to the far left of the runway near the threshold point where the aircraft start their take offs/landings, which means a good deal of the dynamic images(formation breaks etc.) are missed as these are usually performed in line with the control tower so in order to attain these then a walk down the flight line to find a space in that area would be in order but only really necessary for the large display teams, generally the viewing in the Beaverbrook area is not too bad with the exception of the orange and white tower which my camera locked on to a few times.

With high temperatures and sun forecast all day (Yep you read that right!) the organisers had made water available at various points in the showground, very good call by waddo as it was a scorcher on both days although I could only attend the Saturday. I was unfortunate to have forgotten my sunscreen but one of the RAF Personnel in the Media enclosure was kind enough to get me access to some therefore sparing me from turning into something resembling a lobster during the course of the day. The show itself began with the 5AC Squadron Sentinel R1 with Specially painted tail for this show celebrating 95 years of the Royal Air force this particular R1 would join the Red Arrows for a flypast.

 

I had to try to be there early enough to catch up with a couple of people who were working inside the airshow itself and one of who had suggested via twitter that we all meet up near the E3D Sentry, there was the hint of a promise of home cooked biscuits so how could we refuse! However I couldn’t log on to the airshow wi-fi so had no idea of where and when to meet up, shame as it would have been good to put names to faces.

Another meet up was with Jo Ayres for a tour around the XH558 in her static parking area for a show around of the mighty Vulcan bomber, the only flying example of this cold war deterrent in the world today. The huge delta wingspan providing some shady respite from the sun whilst visitors to XH558 were given a show around of such a well known and well loved example from the Avro stable. When XH558 was taxiing past XM607 (Waddo’s gate guard) 607’s paintwork was looking slightly faded and tired compared to that of 558’s which had recently had a re-paint.

Now one of my all time elusive aircraft (I'm sure some of you airshow attendees out there have one, you know, the one that you never seem to manage to get a picture of) for me its the Yellow Sea King, with determination not to miss this opportunity I set out to make sure I got a picture or two before they retire and are replaced, well this is how that determination ended...............I didn’t see a Yellow Sea King at all let alone one in flight and time constraints meant it eluded me yet again. So if anyone from Waddo is reading this, please send one to Benson and let me know.

A walk around the showground (well, 3 walkarounds in the heat of the day) gives a glimpse into what to expect if you have a family in tow and want to leave the airborne antics for a break to browse the many stalls or meet the pilots and display teams, there was also a funfair if you fancy a bit of being hurled around on a fairground attraction and maybe thrown into the air a few times, not for me I have to say as I tend to wimp out of these adrenaline fuelled rides but it was funny to hear the screams of the punters “enjoying” themselves being thrown high into the air while spinning.

One of the stalls at Waddo consisted of something I had seen remarks about on Twitter by aviation artist Spencer Trickett, so off I went into the stall to have a look, many brilliant cartoony images of all our favorite aircraft and one that really caught my eye was the RAF Red Arrows “Synchro Pair” if you get a chance have a look on his website at that particular image, its a work of comical genius and would look great on the wall no matter what your age.

Further down in the static park was a 100 Sqn Hawk and a 208 Sqn Hawk with one of the pilots being asked hundreds of questions about his jet by 3 enthusiastic youngsters, my favorite question was “ Is your airplane faster than my dads car?” To which the reply was “Just a little bit”. There were other gems such as “What would happen if you climbed in there? As the child pointed to the T Mk1’s intakes.

The Patrouille de France display teams arrival to Waddo was somewhat fragmented, and not in a bad way either, there were a couple of their Alphas arrived early on and the supporting C130 which was due to arrive didn’t materialize, unless it landed whilst I was busy elsewhere, the teams arrival left me not knowing where to point the camera as they seemed to be coming from all directions and performing overshoots while others where landing, great deal of fun trying to watch and photograph them all.

Sadly the XV Squadron role demo has been canned for the foreseeable but it was great to see one of the GR4's from Lossiemouth's 617 Squadron in a flypast alongside the BBMF Lancaster bomber "Thumper MkIII. For walkabout visitors, one of the 617 “Dambusters” Squadron Tornado GR4 with special tail livery was on static display near to XH558’s static area. The general feeling around the airshow circuit is one of utter disappointment that the RAF have withdrawn the Role demonstration from the airshow scene, maybe next year we may see its return or something equally exiting.

An aircraft that I have never seen either in static form or flying is the Saab Viggen, so to have one at Waddington 2013 was for me quite a coup, and top marks to the team for getting the Swedish Air Force historic flight to attend the show, they didnt just bring theJA37 Viggen, they also brought the Saab JA29 Tunnan (which I was told translates to “Barrell”.) and the SK60 too.

So it was with eager anticipation that the Viggen was about to display...........but.........it decided to go “Tech” along with the Tunnan, so didnt make it to the runway, we were informed of this by the commentary team, and as you can imagine, this news was something of a disappointment to many of the attendees........however, not too long after the SK60 had displayed the Viggen had had its technical woes ironed out and it was show time, the display was incredible and you could feel your body shaking during the take off. As it was a historic aircraft my thoughts were that it would be treated with kid gloves, nothing of the sort! Like it was spoiling for a fight, the Viggen was both domineering and posturing over the Lincolnshire sky and making its presence felt whilst waking up several idle car alarms with a jolt.

F16’s in abundance! Yes we were treated to a feast of these superb aircraft and it really would be difficult to choose the winning display, I mean really difficult, but if I was forced to pick one from the 3 F16 Displays on Saturday it would go to the “Solo Turk” piloted by Murat Keles . The Belgian Air Component F16 and Dutch display team with the vibrant bright orange paintwork and Captain Stefan “Stitch” Hutten added to the General Dynamics banquet!

The BBMF were scheduled to fly at the event but prior to the show it was announced that the Lancaster Bomber had a hydraulic problem which the maintenance team worked on through the night in order to get her ready for display and a bang on job they done too, so a huge round of applause accompanied the BBMF flypast which in itself is nothing new to an appearance by the BBMF but the applause volume seemed to be louder than the flypast , thanks to the capacity crowd and the feelings that are evoked whenever this trio are attending any event.

 

So in essence relating to Waddingtons annual show, would I recommend it for families, absolutely! There is something there for all family members whether its in the airshow participants or the various trade stands, would I attend again?

Yes, depending on work commitments and if my weekend is available, even though the drive from South Oxfordshire is a bit tedious, the staff and volunteers were very helpful and always willing to help guide visitors(And us lost media types) around the various show areas or answer any questions the public had, this attitude coupled with a great line up and a gloriously sunny weekend and capacity crowds made for one of the best shows Waddington have put on over the few years I have been in attendance, also hats off to all those who volunteered their time to assist with the running of The Show 2013 and to those in the various marquees and tents for the many worthwhile causes around the ground but the heat in some of them was incredible but they didn’t waiver a bit.

As for attendance figures, this year has seen the show become a record sell out on both days with some 148,000 visitors beating all previous attendance figures since the show began, though there was still plenty of room for visitors to pitch up on the grass areas and enjoy one of the UK’s premier air shows.

To be honest I didn’t just feel like I was attending the show, It felt I was part of the show....

 
Review by Ken Brannen
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