weather forecast was not brilliant this year with the possibility
of rain during the day. However we were lucky in that a cloud
base of about 4000 feet was the order of the day and with occasional
blue sky appearing. Often at the most appropriate time for everyone.
year marked the 75th Anniversary of Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton.
There were many old veterans planned for the both the flying
and static displays during the day. It was also going to be
the last time that the famous Sea Kings would be in the display
as they are all being retired over the next few months –
now replaced by the Merlin Helicopter. The Sea King in varying
marks and upgrades has been a work horse for over 40 years and
is easily recognised anywhere in the world.
you entered the airfield probably the first thing that you noticed
was the mighty C-17 Globemaster and the E-3A Sentry AWACS aircraft
situated on the static line. There was a long line of visitors
waiting to get an inside look to this huge aircraft the wait
continued inside for the Cockpit viewing. Talking with the crew,
who were based in South Carolina USA, where they had in excess
of 50 C-17’s based. All the crew were very friendly talking
to and answering all the questions that visitors were asking
a stroll around all the remaining static aircraft showed us
that this year there were some unusual visitors, including the
A10 Thunderbolt, German Air Force Sea King and Lynx and an old
F4 Phantom. The Royal navy Merlins, Sea Kings, Lynx and Wildcats
were also on static display as well as flying.
air show got under way in the traditional way with the Royal
Navy Ensign being flown along the crowd line by a Sea King.
Once the opening had been completed, the show got under way
with the Sea Fire, showing how agile this still is.
next aircraft to take to the air was the Pitts Special flown
by Richard Godwin, if you have never seen this before it is
something quite unreal. As soon as it is airborne and only tens
of feet of the runway, Richard turns the plane to 45° and
continues along the runway with white smoke billowing out of
the exhaust. It is quite some spectacle to see. During his display
he puts the Pitts Special muscle biplane through a display which
can only be described as pushing the boundaries of both man
and machine and without the use of any G suit.
a quick take off by the skyvan with the Royal Navy raiders on
board and a camera crew the Sea Vixen, Vulcan and 2 Vampires
took to the air in quick succession. The first of them to display
was the 2 vampires working in perfect formation over the airfield.
Lynx replacement – The Wildcats soon took to the sky to
perform their unique display taking over the mantra that the
Lynx has set over many years.
followed the Wildcats can only be described as a truly unique
event that will, in all probability, never happen again. The
crowd were treated to a one off event where The Sea Vixen, the
two vampires and the Vulcan performed a couple of low levels
passes as a V jet formation. The sheer size of the Vulcan compared
to the much smaller counterparts was considerable. The formation
was followed around the circuit by the Skyvan capturing all
the air to air photographs that will be treasured for many years
Skyvan then broke off ready to do its other duty today in getting
to a good height for the Royal Navy Raiders parachute team to
drop into the airfield. This was done with such precision by
all the parachutists hitting the drop zone perfectly.
the sky ever threatening and getting darker and lighter every
few minutes we all wondered what type of display the Red Arrows
would perform, as it turned out they could only do their mid
display as the cloud base was below 4500ft. With the new formations
for the 2015 season being watched by all. Despite the low cloud
base the crowd, as always, loved the display by the RAF Red
on from the Red Arrows the whole tempo changed from the Hawk
fast jets to the elderly Avro Anson now owned and run by the
Famous Shuttleworth collection, the Anson performed some very
gentle turns showing how she could still perform despite her
to the fast jets when the Vulcan came back for her display after
also appearing at Swansea earlier in the day. This being her
last flying season nothing was held back for the crowd achieving
the famous Vulcan growl as the air is sucked in to the 4 Rolls
Royce engines and the power being applied at each opportunity.
Upon landing we were treated to the rare sight of the parachute
being used to slow the mighty air frame down. XH558 has now
flown more than 110% of her original planned life. It really
is a credit to all those who have worked on her over the past
decade to get and keep her in the air.
a Naval base, helicopters are a fact of life with so many that
may want to display, we were treated to the unique display of
the UH-1 (Huey) made famous by the TV programme MASH. The distinctive
sound of the rotors cutting through the air and allowing some
on with the nautical theme the two displays that followed were
by the sea hurricane and sea vixen. The sea vixen is now the
only airworthy example in the world and after doing the formation
earlier with the Vulcan it was now time for its own display.
Showing off the hook that would have stopped the aircraft when
landing on board an aircraft carrier years ago.
regular appearing was the Swordfish, one of only a couple left
in the world now. The static hangers also had a swordfish that
you could get up to a lot closer for a good view of what it
was like to have flown this aircraft with very little protection
against the cold and any weapons that would have been fired
at the crew.
this was also Agusta Westlands 100th Birthday weekend, and they
are based down the road from Yeovilton at Yeovil, we were treated
to an unique display of the AW 609, nothing was heard until
the aircraft was almost with you very quiet entrance, however
the unique part of the AW609 is the ability to tilt its rotors,
so it went from a normal two propeller aeroplane into a two
rotor helicopter. The quietness was then reduced as the normal
rotor sounds as the rotors turned skyward while airborne from
their normal front facing position. The AW609 could then do
everything that a normal helicopter can do. This was a strange
sight to see a Plane that does become a Helicopter.
airday was fortunate to have an RAF Chinook display this year,
the first in quite a few which was always down to operations.
With the almost hand brake turn that the Chinook performed you
could hear the crowd gasp in amazement at how this huge twin
rotor helicopter could be “thrown” around the skies
with such ease.
to the skies were the two Super Etendards and two Rafale M from
the French Air Force. The Super E’s were quite striking
in the air with their swept back wings. The Rafales soon shook
the place though with the Reheat switched on for most of the
display the sheer noise and power shown was breathtaking. Displaying
the jets capabilities as far as they could.
is the tradition at Yeovilton the end of the display is marked
by a Commando Assault of the airfield with marines having to
recapture it from “terrorists” . To see the Sea
Kings in this, their last assault at Yeovilton, was so great
with them working alongside their replacements, the mighty Merlins
along with Lynx and Wildcats it was probably the best finale
in years. With the usual pyrotechnics being deployed both on
land and in the air the whole crowd was kept on the edge of
their seats yet again.
the air display over you could now have a slightly more leisurely
walk around the static aircraft on show.
done to the organisers for a great airday and look forward to
see what 2016 can bring.
by Ian Birdsey