Archive for January, 2014

Canberra PR9 to display at Abingdon Air & Country Show

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The iconic and celebrated Canberra XH134, the world’s only airworthy PR9, will join an array of aviation acts, including the Breitling Wingwalkers, Trig Team and a P40 Kittyhawk, at the Abingdon Air & Country Show on Sunday 4th May.

In her first scheduled airshow of the year, XH134 will perform a revised display, showcasing the exceptional PR9 capabilities, under the skilled piloting of Sqn Ldr Dave Piper and Flt Lt Mike Leckey. Incorporating a variety of impressive manoeuvres, visitors will be captivated by the power and noise of XH134.

Designed as the RAF’s first jet bomber, the Canberra had an exceptional career spanning 55 years of active service, before retiring from operations in July 2006. Following an extensive restoration by C2 Aviation, XH134 unveiled the striking new silver colour scheme of the Midair Squadron in September 2013, and will be flanked by two Hawker Hunters as the 2014 season progresses.

Aircraft owner, Michael Davis, explains, “The refined PR9 display showcases XH134 in all her glory. Demonstrating the sheer power and capabilities of the photo reconnaissance aircraft, it is a pleasure to introduce XH134 back to the display circuit.”

Speaking of the new air display, Sqn Ldr Dave Piper comments, “It is an honour to fly such an internationally recognised aircraft, in front of crowds who have supported her restoration from the outset.”

The annual Abingdon Air & Country show, located at Abingdon Airfield, is staged to raise money for the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust, donating over £45,000 since 2007. Over 9,000 visitors are expected this year.

Swiss Turn Airshow Into Joint Celebration

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Patrouille Suisse

The Swiss Air Force has ensured the Red Arrows won’t be the only aerobatic display team celebrating an aviation landmark at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 11-13.

It has announced plans to send their aerobatic display team, the Patrouille Suisse, in their 50th anniversary year, along with an F-18 Hornet and Super Puma helicopter to take part in the Air Tattoo’s flying display.

Air Tattoo organiserssaid that official celebrations markingthe 50th display season of the Red Arrows would also include the Patrouille Suisse in order that their anniversary was also recognised.

Formed in 1964, the team fly six F-5E Tiger IIs painted in a bright colour scheme that incorporates the red and white of the Swiss national flag. The pilots, who are all volunteers from various frontline squadrons, are famed worldwide for performing precise formations at high speed.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said that as an international celebration of aviation,it was important thatthe Air Tattoo recognised important anniversaries being celebrated by other participatingair arms.

He said: “The Swiss have particular cause to celebrate this year. Not only is it the 50th anniversary of the Patrouille Suissebut it is also the 25th anniversary of their PC-7 aerobatic display team. On top of that, the Swiss Air Force will also be marking the 100th anniversary of military aviation in their country. Given all these anniversaries, we’re really pleased that the Swiss have agreed to support our airshow in such an incredible way.”

The Swiss Air Force have been regular visitors to the Air Tattoo since first attending the airshow at RAF Greenham Common in 1979 with the Patrouille Suisse. Then, the team flew six Hawker Hunter F-58s before switching to their current Northrop F-5E Tiger II jets in 1995. Accompanying the display team on their first visit was a Swiss Air Force de Havilland Venom FB.4, which was presented as a gift, to the Royal Air Force Museum.

This summer could be one of the last times the Patrouille Suisse perform in the UK after it was announced last year that the team would be disbanded in 2016 due to the withdrawal of the F-5 from Swiss Air Force service.

Specially-priced Super Earlybird tickets for next summer’s Air Tattoo, on July 11-13, are available until the end of January from or by calling 0800 107 1940. All accompanied under-16s go free. Free parking.

Interesting Restoration Project at Yorkshire Air Museum

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Eastchurch Kitten Yorkshire Air Museum

One of the aircraft restoration projects currently in progress at the Yorkshire Air Museum is indeed something of a rarity! It is the construction from a very faded and sketchy print of plans of a hardly known WWI fighter, the Eastchurch Kitten, of which only 3 prototype examples were built. The aircraft would almost have disappeared from history had not an attempt been made in the early 1980’s to essentially build one from scratch. However, this effort stalled and what existed in the shape of a incomplete fuselage, came to the Museum in 1987. It has lain in store, awaiting its turn, in a long line of aircraft restoration projects until Spring 2011, when the green light was given to the Museum Aircraft Engineering team commence the re-build.

The concept behind the Eastchurch Kitten was by the Admiralty for a ‘high altitude’ fighter to tackle the threat posed by the Zeppelin airships which had brought the war to our shores with bombing raids in 1915. The Kitten was planned to be launched from platforms on battleships, cruisers or even torpedo boats. It was to be a ‘disposable’, one operation aircraft, to simply go up, intercept and shoot down the airship, then ditch in the sea. In 1917, the Royal Naval Air Service Experimental Construction Depot at Port Victoria produced two concepts, the P.V. 7 ‘Grain’ Kitten and the P.V.8 ‘Eastchurch’ Kitten. The latter proved to be the better and made its first flight on 1st September 1917, but was found to be unstable, leading to redesign of the horizontal tail surfaces, elevator and tailplane.

The alterations made the P.V.8 a pleasant aeroplane to fly and it performed better than the P.V.7. However, the 35 h.p Gnat engine was unreliable and the aircraft would have benefited from a more powerful engine and might have been a practical anti-airship weapon. But by this time the threat of the airships had receded and the project was deemed unviable. There was interest in the project in the USA from the aircraft designer James Martin and the P.V.8 was packed for shipping in March 1918 and that’s where the story ends, for it was not known if it ever made the journey or what became of it.

The story of the aircraft and its restoration is now very significant, encapsulating this fascinating piece of aviation history. The project received a major boost during the summer of 2012, when two young French aviation design students undertaking a placement here at the Museum, were able to assist the project leader Ray McElwain, and made many of the wing struts and other parts, such as cable brackets, putting their metal working skills to the test. Since then, the framework has been covered in Irish linen, tautened with dope to a tension similar to a drum and painted in the original specification for a Royal Naval Air Service craft. In addition we have sourced a similar twin cylinder air cooled engine and refitted all the controls so that this 97 year old design is once again live.

Although non-flying the aircraft will be completed for live “ground running” in time for the WWI centenary commemorations alongside the Museum’s other WWl fighters, which include the 1914 BE2 and the 1917 SE5a which is also a live ground running aircraft. The first planned running of the Kitten will be on Sunday 6th April, during the first of our 2014 “Thunder Day” engine running shows. It is also planned for the Kitten and BE2 to be exhibited in the centre of Leeds to herald the regions WWI Centenary Commemorations.

Kestrel goes on display at Cosford

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

RAF Museum Cosford Kestrel

The New Year has got off to a flying start at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford with the addition of the Hawker-Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 going on public display. This jet aircraft was built to evaluate the jump jet concept during the 1960s and visitors are now able to view it within the Museum’s Test Flight collection.

The Kestrel, serial number XS695, is one of only nine built by Hawker-Siddeley and its main role was to evaluate vertical take-off in near service conditions. Fitted with a single Bristol Siddeley Pegasus engine and single seat cockpit, the success of the Kestrel came little more than a year before its successor, the Harrier, made its first flight. The Harrier served successfully with the Royal Air Force until 2011.

During the 1950s, Hawker had been privately developing a vertical take-off aircraft under the code of P.1127. The success of this private venture, and the subsequent service interest, led to an announcement in 1962 that a ‘Tripartite Evaluation Squadron’ (TES), also known as the Kestrel Squadron would be formed. The Kestrel was a developed version of the P.1127 and nine of the type were ordered for use by the TES during its operations in 1965. The TES was based at RAF West Raynham and included pilots and ground crew from the UK, USA and West Germany. They used nearby abandoned airfields for testing the aircraft on semi-prepared runways and on grass to test its capabilities on unprepared sites.

The Kestrel made its maiden flight in February 1965 at Dunsfold. By November that same year XS695 had flown 153 times totalling 70.44 airframe hours of which 51.04 were on trials work including 141 sorties with the TES. During 1966 the aircraft was assessed for its handling characteristics, used for training and even appeared at the Hanover and Farnborough Air Shows. In 1972 it was allocated to the Royal Navy Engineering College at Manadon, Devon and later used for apprentice training and to simulate aircraft handling and flight deck procedures.

After being transported by road to the RAF Museum Cosford in November 2001, the Kestrel remained in storage until late Autumn 2012 when it was moved into the Museum’s award winning Michael Beetham Conservation Centre. After undergoing a full restoration and repaint in its tripartite colours which include tri national roundels and fin flashes, the aircraft has now been placed on display for Museum visitors to enjoy.

Nick Sturgess, Alex Henshaw Curator at RAF Museum Cosford said:

“We are delighted to finally have the Kestrel out on public display after its time in storage and its extensive restoration. This aircraft is the only surviving example in the UK and represents an important stage in aircraft development. It was used by three nations to evaluate the jump jet concept and wore a unique colour scheme which can now be seen for the first time since 1965. The results from the Kestrel Squadron would be a huge influence in the development of the Harrier. It now sits alongside the Hunting H126 which was also used to experiment with short take off ideas at the same time.”

The Museum is open daily from 10am and admission is free of charge. For more information on the Museum, visit or call 01902 376200.

Yorkshire Air Museum 2014 Events Programme

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

The Yorkshire Air Museum’s 2014 Events programme will be kick started, or rather prop swung, into action on Sunday 6th of April with the first of our Thunder Days. This event will see the first public engine start of the unique P.V. 8 Eastchurch Kitten WWI interceptor. The reproduction has been lovingly brought to life by the Aircraft Engineering Team, from the scraps of the earlier project to create a Kitten that arrived at the Museum in 1988.

On Thunder Day, the Kitten will be joined by our other live WWI bi-plane, the SE5a and the Douglas C47 / DC3 Dakota and the De Havilland Devon VIP Transport, making up the propeller contingent. Then it will be the turn of the jets, in the form of Blackburn Buccaneer XN974, Nimrod MR2 XV250 and last, but by no means least, the Handley Page Victor XL231 “Lusty Lindy”.

With 7 live aircraft on the ground, the event promises a lot of activity for everyone to enjoy. The show will be repeated on the first Sunday in June and August.

Other events are the ever popular Battlegroup North Military Vehicle Rally and Wargaming Show, complemented by various Living History display’s. This is the largest military vehicle rally in the North of England, which normally sees some 250 entries.

Another exciting event sees the amalgamation of the popular August Bank Holiday “Golden Era” Vintage Motorcycle Run, where some 70 pre 1931 machines gather splendidly, with an opportunity for some “Rolling Thunder”, as the Buccaneer, Nimrod and Victor get the chance to stretch their legs on Elvington’s long runway! A thrilling prospect made even more tempting by the fact that the Douglas Dakota may by this time be capable of taxying, fulfilling the final goal for this beautiful aircraft.

Memorial Events include the Royal British Legion Women’s Section Reunion, Service and Parade on Sunday 10th August and the annual Allied Air Forces Commemoration Day, this year marking a number of significant anniversaries, such as the WWI Centenary, 75th Anniversary of the outbreak of WWII, 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy Invasion and the 70th Anniversary of the formation of Elvington’s French Squadrons, giving us plenty to give thought to during the Parade, Service, Marchpast and Sunset Ceremony.

Remembrance Sunday brings to an end the programme of activities, with Services taking place at the French memorial, Elvington Village and at the YAM Station Chapel, with the following Wreath Laying ceremony in the Memorial Garden.


2nd March “Anti-Det” Running Day. Nimrod, Buccaneer, Devon, Dakota, SE5a. Victor (Dry or Wet start.)

6th April “Thunder Day”. On site engine runs of all ‘live’ aircraft: Propeller aircraft are: DH Devon (short taxy); Douglas Dakota; SE5a and first run of unique restored Eastchurch Kitten. The jets are: Blackburn Buccaneer XN974 (short taxy); Nimrod MR2 XV250 and Victor XL231 (Dry or Wet start, depending on fuel reserves.)

4th May Nimrod anti-det run.

10th / 11th May BATTLEGROUP NORTH. Annual Wargaming, Military Vehicle rally and Living History Show. Devon, Dakota, SE5a and Kitten engine runs.

1st June “Thunder Day”. As previous.

6th July Nimrod anti-det Run.

3rd August “Thunder Day”. As previous.

10th August Royal British Legion Women’s Section Re-union, Service and Parade. Dakota / Devon engine starts.

25th August “Golden Era” Vintage Motorcycle Run and Rolling Thunder! Another gathering of pre 1930 Vintage motorcycles which depart for a morning run, returning for public display. An added attraction will be the fast taxy runs of the Nimrod XV250 and Victor V-bomber XL231. An airfield viewing pass will be available to purchase for those wishing to get a closer view of these impressive and eagerly awaited aircraft in action. Possible Dakota taxy.

7th September Allied Forces Memorial Day. Annual Commemoration Service and Parade. Aircraft engine runs.

5th October “Anti-det” Running Day.

9th November Remembrance Sunday. Services at the French Memorial, Elvington Village and at the YAM Station Chapel. 11am and 13:30pm respectively. Wreath Laying Ceremony in Memorial Garden.

Note: Wherever possible, Main events will feature historic aircraft flypasts from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and / or private operators. These events may be charged at additional rates – (“Thunder Days” & Battlegroup North.)

The first Sunday of each month, excluding January and February, dependent on operational conditions, are set as “anti-deterioration” aircraft engine maintenance run days. Some, but not all, live aircraft will be powered up for testing.

For information see: or ring 01904 608595.

Official Launch Event of Folkestone Airshow 2014

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Folkestone airshow launch top gun

Folkestone Airshow will return on 7th and 8th of June 2014 to be even bigger and better than ever before. However, this year we will be running additional events in advance to raise funding and awareness. The first of these exciting events is an Open Air Drive-In showing of the 1986 film, Top Gun.

On the Saturday 29 March 2014, the Rotunda site on Folkestone sea front will be transformed into a Drive-In Cinema, complete with 30ft screen, food served to your car and surprise entertainment. And best of all, it’s free.

Book your tickets now at

This will be a fun event for the whole family. Please book your ticket in advance, to avoid disappointment, as this event has a limited capacity.

Open Air Promotions Ltd will be collecting funds for Folkestone Airshow 2014 at the event, which will go towards the People’s Flying Display. All funds raised for the People’s Flying Display will help us to bring the Breitling WingWalkers to Folkestone Airshow, and everyone who donates can see their contribution as the Aerobatic Team wow the crowds; filling the skies with amazing flying manoeuvres and showing their aerobatic abilities.

Wings & Wheels celebrates 10th anniversary

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Dunsfold Airshow crowds

The sensational summer event for the whole family, Wings & Wheels, returns on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August 2014 at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey (home to BBC’s Top Gear) to celebrate its 10th show. Famous favourites in the air and on the ground will blow your mind, whilst the attractions and Zones in the Arena will keep you entertained and buzzing with delight the WHOLE weekend.

Eyes to the sky as the ‘Wings’ of the event treats visitors to outstanding and diverse 5 hour air displays which have previously included show favourites the Red Arrows, Avro Vulcan, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Spitfire, Lancaster, Hurricane), Typhoon, Chinook, Tucano, RN Swordfish and Sea Fury, Apache Attack Helicopter, RN Lynx Black Cat Solo Helicopter Display, Team Breitling Wingwalkers, Glider FX and the Blades accompanied by witty and knowledgeable commentary from aviation experts and display pilots (please note the air display will be confirmed in March).

The ‘Wings’ of the event would not be complete without a close-up inspection of all the weekend’s visiting aircraft and Dunsfold’s resident Boeing 747 in the ‘Wings Park’ (open for tours).

You don’t need to be a petrolhead to delight in the ‘Wheels’ of the show as the paddock gleams and the sound of finely tuned engines fill the air. Supercars and classic and vintage icons put on an awe-inspiring display of power and speed on the Top Gear track in a 2 hour auto spectacular from Brooklands Museum. Included among the 360 entrants in 2013 were Porsche 911, Dodge Monaco, TVR Tasmin 280i, Ducati Mutistrada 1200s, Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, Ford GT40, Lotus Elise 49 and the stunning Benetton F1 B190.

The Wheels Zone features interactive displays from clubs and a crowd line parade whilst the Stunt Zone squeals with the sound of two and four wheeled hair-raising performances.

The Military Zone & Paddock adds some classic nostalgia to the ‘Wheels’, as the regal Military Vehicles complete a cavalcade for spectators before taking their place in the Zone’s living history and re-enactment displays including live battles.

The excitement and anticipation doesn’t stop at the main displays as the 32 acre public arena is bursting with a huge variety of interactive attractions containing all you need for a great family day out. The Hot Rod Zone hosts live rockabilly music, themed retail outlets and a stunning display of nostalgic and ‘kustom’ Hot Rod vehicles. The show arena also boasts laser quest, paintballing, kit-plane demonstrations, aviation and motoring simulators, military outlets and displays, static aircraft, fairground, emergency services demonstration and over 80 retail outlets selling a wide variety of products and gifts.

As the last plane touches down the party starts across the arena with a mix of musical evening entertainment. Swing, big band and jazz takes over the Military Zone, in the Wheels Zone is a mix of Rock n Roll, Doowop and Rockabilly and finally, taking centre stage in the middle of the Arena, is a covers band with something for everyone.

Taking the hassle out of your day the show includes added extras to make your experience even more enjoyable; over 25 fixed-price catering outlets, 2 bars, hospitality facilities, free on-site parking, public camping, lost children point, disabled access, informative show commentary, opportunities to meet the pilots, a raffle, official show merchandise and grandstand seating.

The 10th annual Wings & Wheels will be held over the August Bank holiday weekend; Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th August 2014, at Dunsfold Park near Guildford, Surrey, and is open to spectators from 09:00 until 21:00.

Tickets start from £20 for adults, £45 for a family (2 adults and 3 children aged 5 – 15yrs), £6 for children aged between 5 and 15yrs and under 5s are free. Hospitality packages start from £150 per person, weekend passes, grandstand tickets and camping are also available. For more information visit or to book standard tickets call 08712 305 572.

Wings & Wheels is promoted by Dunsfold Park Limited and in 2014 will be assisting the fundraising efforts of Brooklands Museum Trust and Help for Heroes.

Air Tattoo Saving is just the Ticket

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Red Arrows RIAT

People planning to be at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford to celebrate the Red Arrows’ 50th display season have until the end of the month to take advantage of specially-priced Super Earlybird tickets.

The three-day event, which takes place on July 11-13, will feature a number of unique Red Arrows’ themed spectacles in the air and on the ground as the world famous aerobatic display team return to their first home as part of their official birthday celebrations.

Admission tickets bought by the January 31 deadline are £10 cheaper than the standard price meaning special Friday Reds’ Pit Day tickets can be bought for £24 with Saturday and Sunday tickets costing £34. All under-16s are admitted free.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said buying early not only made sense financially but would also ensure people didn’t risk missing out on all the excitement planned.

He said: “Last July’s airshow was a sell-out and we’re anticipating a repeat this year as excitement for the Reds’ 50th builds. As well as the public’s enthusiasm, fellow military aviators from around the globe have also indicated to us that they’d like to be part of the celebrations. It’s going to be very special.”

As well as celebrating the Reds’ 50th, the Air Tattoo will be marking two other aviation landmarks: the 40th anniversary of both the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and the BAE Systems Hawk, the aircraft currently flown by the Red Arrows.

Earlier this month, the Air Tattoo, which is staged annually in support of the RAF Charitable Trust, won top honours in the Tourism Event of the Year category of the Cotswold Tourism Awards 2014. To book tickets and to find out about the range of enclosure packages visit

Newark Air Museum Tribute to the V-Force

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Valiant Bomber

Later this year the Newark Air Museum is hosting its fourth (4th) Tribute to the V-Force event, which is taking place on Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 May, 2014.

These two days form part of the V-Force Reunion Weekend, of which the official reunion gathering itself is planned for Saturday 17th May. During this day an area will be set up for former V-Force personnel to sign-in, collect their badges and this will be staffed by former members of the V-Force.

The reunion team is keen to hear from any former V-Force personnel. Full details of the activities planned and how to join the reunion can be gathered from the Reunion website at

They would also like to issue a special appeal in particular to the following Squadron Associations and/or their former squadron personnel:

Valiant – 7 Sqn, 18 Sqn, 90 Sqn, 148 Sqn and 199 Sqn

Valiant & Victor – 232 OCU

Victor – 15 Sqn and 100 Sqn

Vulcan – 83 Sqn

Across both days of the event, which is also open to the general public the Museum Events Team is putting together a range of special displays. In due course a full list of participating groups will be posted on the News & Information page of the museum website

There is also some display space available for any Squadron Associations that would like to put on a display. Anyone that would like to apply for space is asked to request a participation form then please send an email to

On Sunday 18 May the museum is hosting a series of V-Force related talks and presentations, which will be hosted in a tented facility alongside Hangar 2. The event organisers would like to hear from any Squadron Association that might be interested in giving a short talk at this event.

Throughout the weekend we also plan to have a number of museum aircraft open for people to visit – this will include the Vulcan, Victor cockpit, Hastings and Varsity. A small additional charge of 50p person will be made for each aircraft visited. The museum continues to collect Log Book entries for Vulcan XM594, Hastings TG517 and Varsity WF369 and would welcome any additional information being provided during this weekend.

Folkestone Airshow sponsor books Hawk display

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

KENT-BASED independent financial advisors Investaco has signed up as the first Official Sponsor of Folkestone Airshow 2014. The deal secures a display, subject to operational availability, by an RAF Hawk, a high-speed trainer version of the aircraft type flown by the Red Arrows aerobatic team.

Annabel Clarke, Investaco marketing manager, said that the company was ‘thrilled’ to support Folkestone Airshow. “This is great family event and we are proud to be involved”.

Folkestone Airshow project manager Yvonne Holder said: “This is a splendid start to our New Year sponsorship campaign. Several other businesses have expressed interest in joining the scheme which enables us to hire a particular aircraft or flying display in return for promoting their products or services via our website, video, social media marketing activities, posters banners and in the official programme. We are delighted that Investaco, a leading provider of financial services to the local community, has trailed the sponsorship way of supporting Kent’s great free airshow”.

The Folkestone Airshow Official Supporters scheme, launched last month, which gives patrons of five popular restaurants and bars an opportunity to sponsor an aircraft of their choice, has also made a promising start, according to marketing manager Maddison Broom. “Customers of The Chambers raised more than £280 at their Boxing Night quiz – nearly ten per cent of the amount money necessary to put a Tornado into the air”.

Organised by Open Air Promotions Ltd, Folkestone Airshow 2014 will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8. Both days will include flying displays as well ground activities and entertainment on the Leas and in the harbour area.