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Yeovilton Air Day 2014

 

 

On yet another hot and sunny day in 2014, saw the Yeovilton 2014 Air Day. Yeovilton air day followed quickly on from of RIAT and Farnborough. July has certainly been a busy month for air shows this year.

As usual there was a large Royal Navy showing, after all it is one of their busiest air stations in the UK. Across the airfield was plenty of activities and side stalls for everyone, many of the display teams had their promotional tent or village in place all day. There was some disappointment in that the Great War display team could not fly for this air day.

Looking down the show list there was a good mix of old and new and a few different display teams this year.

With plenty of static ground aircraft to see as well as the flying display it is a busy day. The German Navy sent over a P-3C Orion for people to have a look around and just in front of it in the static park area was a BMI Regional Embraer ERJ 135.

 
 
 

The show started, at 11am prompt, with the an old classic, the Sea Fury, followed by one of the many lynx displays, this one being the Army Air Corps AH7 model.

The first of the Hunter displays then took place, the first was the Midair owned model. With great flair the aircraft was shown what it can do to the crowd. From a supersonic jet of the hunter to the relative stately show of the Bucker Jungman bi-plane. It was at this point that the Royal Navy flew in with two helicopters, the Black Cats.

Under blue and white skies saw the Royal Navy parachute team dropped in, the breeze was that slight that there appeared very little drift and a very graceful entrance to the air day and all hit the DZ with the precision you would expect.

The Pitts special of Rich Goodwin (G-EWIZ) was an amazing display of how you can push an aircraft to its limits. The take off being quite normal but as soon as Rich is airborne by about 100 feet, the whole aircraft is turned 45 degrees to the ground and goes along the length of the runway like a crab. It is really amazing to see, and Rich carries out most of the modifications himself.

Along the length of the crowdline flew a UAV, this 5 engined UAV was gathering a video of the day and as part of it they wanted a clip of the crowds. Very well controlled use of a small UAV, one very unusual flying visitor this weekend.

 
 

This year saw two Hunters flying at different times, indeed the F4 “Miss Demeanour” made an unscheduled return visit later in the day. Hunters used to be based at Yeovilton from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. On the static side was the oldest hunter in the world and the only Canberra PR11 Photo Reconnaissance model still flying. The PR11 Canberra & theT7 hunters flying were from the Midair Squadron.

The Royal Jordanian Falcons were next on, only 3 of them flying this year instead of their usual 4 Extra EA-300L high performance aerobatic planes. It was still a very good display as always from the very professional and pleasant Jordanian team.

Across the airfield you could see that the Vulcan was powering up the engines with the anti-collision lights flashing she started her taxi to the take off position, after a short wait the engines sprang into full life and XH558 was speeding down the runway with the air being sucked into the huge engines to start her show. As becoming a lady of that age she carried her majestic status throughout the display, captained by Martin Withers, who was the pilot that dropped the bombs onto Port Stanley airfield during the Falklands war in 1982. After the display XH558 landed and proceeded to release the braking parachute – despite the commentary saying they rarely use it because of the cost, it just go to show how little breeze there was across the airfield and also reminded us all of how much runway a Vulcan needs to stop.

The next aircraft to take off and display was the beautiful and majestic Catalina, for those who do not know, this was the most successful flying boat ever made. With its beautiful lines it headed along the runway and took off into the blue skies above the airfield. It was as graceful as ever and such a unique profile.

A new team showing for the first time this year was the Danish Air Force Baby Blue display team, with 4 Saab T-17 Trainer aircraft. These were ordered 40 years ago and are 1 of only three air forces using them worldwide, Norway and Pakistan being the other two.

A regular visitor to Yeovilton is the Belgian Air Force F16 Fighting Falcon. The display given was as noisy as ever with plenty of vertical climbs and the afterburner being used to give that extra power, and noise.
After a short display by a Black Cat, we were treated to another fast jet, the Swiss Air Force F/A-18c Hornet, this aircraft type was first flown in 1978. The display included a square loop, very unusual for a large fighter jet.

From fast jets to a slow second world war bomber, the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight Foundation owned B-25 Mitchell. This is one of only a handful of airworthy B-25’s in Europe. This display was both a joy to watch and providing a very different sound from the two propeller engines. It was this aircraft type that was deployed to bomb Tokyo after the Pearl Harbour attacks in the second world war.
The RAF sent over a Typoon, which only done a short flypast followed halfway along the crowdline by its characteristic vertical climb out from the display line.

Being a Royal Navy fleet air station, with both Navy and Army Lynx and Wildcats based here, it would not be right without a Lynx Wildcat maritime role demonstration showing exactly how these do their day job.

Another Belgian team were on show, namely the Belgian Red Devils flying team, flying the SIAI-Marchetti SF260 trainer aircraft, this was the only third time these guys have displayed in the UK! They have only been flying in the team since 2011.
The BBMF sent down 2 spitfires for the show, it was great to see two icons flying together for the display, the sounds of the Merlin engines was like music to the ears. These were preceded by the DC3, Dakota, again from the BBMF stable at RAF Coningsby. One Spitfire was in the D-Day colour scheme and the other was in normal camouflage paint scheme. The commentator did say that following an “investigation” the D-Day markings are in a standard 8 inch width, this being the same size as a paintbrush that was in use at the time!
With the landing of the BBMF, and the airspace was clear for the Yeovilton Finale, the storming of the Airfield. This again was a great show, not just of the aircraft but also the land / sea forces and how they can be deployed, with Sea Kings bringing and taking out underslung land rovers, with RN Hawks protecting and “firing” warning shots and the accompanying pyrotechnics that follows this show of force.
And so the end of another Yeovilton air day loomed over us, but such a great day was had by all who attended. Looking forward to 2015 at Yeovilton...
Review by Ian Birdsey
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