Be it a father’s day treat, or just a day out for the family, the Cotswold Air Show is always a popular choice for many, Michael Buckle reports for AeroResource from the sun blessed Sunday.
The Cotswold Airshow was formerly and still is known by many as the Kemble Air Show, taking place in early June over the Father’s Day weekend it’s a perfect fathers day treat. The show is hosted at the Kemble airfield providing a strong air display and an excellent selection of static aircraft. The airport was originally built in the 1930’s as an RAF base and has always contained strong display roots being host to the Royal Air Force Red Arrows up until the late 1980s.
But even today the airfield still maintains its display status, with Delta Jets operating and storing many war bird aircraft including several mighty Hawker Hunters and Ultimate High giving thrill rides in their Extra 300 and Bulldog aircraft.
Last year the show firmly climbed up the air show ladder by becoming a two day event. As with most two day air shows, the event doesn’t vary a considerable amount between the two days apart from a change of display times, but it does give added flexibility for the crowd and more importantly allow enthusiasts to pick the best day weather wise.
As with previous years, the show was kicked off with the Model Aircraft display, with a stunning thrust to weight ratio of over 1:1 these models carry out some outstanding manoeuvres and at a glance can often be misinterpreted for the real thing. Models to display over the weekend included a Hawker Hunter and custom built model capable of 200 mph.
Although not listed on the programme, the first full size aircraft to display was Delta Jet’s stored Canberra PR.9, sadly it wasn’t an airborne display but it was certainly a great surprise to see her carrying out a high power taxi up Kemble’s runway and we can only pray that the aircraft is soon permitted to fly.
As the Canberra vacated the runway, the world famous RAF Red Arrows lined up and the 9 Hawker Siddeley Hawks took to the sky in formation to perform a full display in the cloudless blue skies above Kemble. It’s been a very eventful year for the Red Arrows, this season they have welcomed their first female pilot to the team; Flt Lt Kirsty Moore joined the team as ‘Red 3’ after serving with XIII Squadron on the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham.
But that wasn’t all that put the Reds in the papers this season, during their two week training deployment to Crete the Reds were involved in an incident; the mid air collision during a syncro pair manoeuvre forced ‘Red 6’ Flt Lt Mike Ling to eject from his aircraft, although escaping with only minor injuries Mike has been unable to participate in the 2010 display and former ‘Red 6’ Paul O’Grady has stepped in to take-up the role of syncro pair this season. All is not lost, Mike can still be seen at events throughout this year, meeting and greeting the public.
Following the Reds was the Vampire Preservation Group, the VPG display routine is always loved by the photographers, involving a low departure and several beautiful tipped wing ‘topside’ passes, it’s all any enthusiast could ever want. The de Havilland Vampire ‘WZ507’ is a privately owned aircraft on the civil register, property of and kindly funded by a small group of dedicated enthusiasts, a group I’m sure the aviation community are very grateful of.
From one trainer to another, the RAF Tucano was up next, this year’s aircraft is known on the circuit as the ‘Spitcano’ due to its rather dashing Spitfire colour scheme, it’s been chosen to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The Tucano was the perfect choice from the RAF’s inventory to wear the scheme and I’m sure to the untrained eye from a distance it could easily be mistaken for a Spitfire itself. The scheme has certainly applied some pressure to next year’s display pilot to top the design!
The display routine itself has been very well planned this year, with such a small aircraft it’s often difficult for a display to show the abilities of the aircraft, yet still maintain closeness to the crowd. This year’s display pilot, Flt Lt Tom Bould has incorporated some perfect low passes and climb outs at crowd centre showing off that excellent paint scheme to the public.
Continuing the theme of trainers, the crowd were blessed with fifteen minutes of Jet Provost heaven, first to display the ‘JP’ was Neil McCarthy of the Newcastle Jet Provost company in their Jet Provost T3A, closely followed by Heritage Aviation and Air Atlantique’s Jet Provost T5’s being put through their paces. The ‘JP’ was introduced as the RAF’s basic trainer in 1959 and served an active role through to 1993 when it was superseded by the previous act, the Tucano. I can only think that the displays would have been more effective and appreciated if they were divided apart.
Next on the schedule was an airshow first – the civilian parachute team The Renegades made their public display debut at the show, the team is made up of non-military parachutists from the UK Sky Diving company based at near-by South Cerney. The team of very experienced sky divers have a real passion for sky diving and carry out the jumps merely as a hobby. Sadly the team were unable to climb high enough to carry out a formation drop, but made some very impressive landings to make up for it.
It was then time for something a little bit different with O’Brien’s Flying Circus, Brendan is well known on the airshow circuit and is back this year with a new routine. Brendan’s ‘Flying Circus’ routine brings a tale of an un-experienced pilot trying to land a Piper Cub, with the unaware crowd watching in anticipation. Brendan carries out ‘Crazy Flying’ manoeuvres whilst the commentators tell the story. Unfortunately the story wasn’t a happily ever after during the Sunday show as due to a high cross wind Brendan was unable to touch the ‘Cub down on the trailer successfully despite several attempts, but carried out a landing on the conventional runway instead.
Once Brendan was safely down on the ground, there was a tribute story to be told, imagine the scene; it’s 1940 and the airfield is under attack from a German Air Force ME-108, several bombing runs have taken place and ground munitions are failing to see off the enemy, there’s only one option left, to scramble QRA – two Hawker Hurricanes take to the sky to defend the airfield, after a tense few minutes of dog fighting the Hurricanes manage to damage the ME-108 and leave it spluttering home in a cloud of smoke. The Hurricanes carry out some victory flypasts of the crowd before returning to base. The story, sound effects and pyrotechnics really add to the display and manage to draw the audience in and have them waiting in suspense.
The Hawker theme was then continued by Andy Cubins and Delta Jets with their Hunter T7A. ‘Cubins’, who’s an ex-Red Arrows pilot never fails to impress the crowd, always making his display’s a pleasure to watch. Beginning with a low take-off down Kemble’s runway, Andy carries out several stunning ‘topside’ passes and rolls before bringing the aircraft down for a low high-speed flypast to land. Andy has a very distinguished flying career, originally flying the Jaguar he went on to become the Jaguar display pilot before being one of the lucky few to join the Red Arrows, in which he ultimately became Syncro Leader for the team. Andy is now retired from the RAF but still continues to take to the skies as an airline pilot; however, I suspect nothing beats the delight of displaying the Hunter.
After Andy vacated the runway it was time for Team Viper and a now similarly familiar type of aircraft to the crowd, the team consist of five BAC Strikemaster aircraft and are a relatively new team to the circuit only making their season debut last year. Their aircraft, a advancement on the Jet Provost all wear genuine colour schemes, as worn during service with the Royal Saudi Airforce, Royal Singapore Airforce, Kenyan Airforce and Sultan of Oman Airforce. The team carry out a very impressive display, with the same high standard of tight and precision formations that are delivered by various display teams around the world.
Another home team, Ultimate High were the next act to take the stage. The weekend’s display was piloted by the founder of Ultimate High – Mark Greenfield, an ex-military pilot who now possesses full CAA Category approval, Mark showed off the ability of the Extra 300 in a display that illustrates the experience flights that Ultimate High provide to the public. More information on the flights the team provide can be found on their website.
It was then the unforgettable sight of a cartridge start and two DeHavilland Venom’s, the Venom was derived from the Vampire and was very much an improvement, with a more aerodynamic wing and upgraded engines. The Venom entered service in 1952 and served through to 1962; of 835 it’s believed there are only around 20 of the aircraft still airworthy in the world, making it a special treat to have two of the aircraft display for us here in the UK.
There’s one display that I think always catches a first time viewer out, the Swift Glider Display team, it’s remarkable how entertaining a glider display can be, the team contain a Swift S-1 Glider which is towed by a PA-25 with a follow up display by a Silence Twister. First the team carry out several low and inverted flypasts and then the tug and glider climb to altitude for the release, once released the glider performs beautiful acrobatics to music with his red smoke leaving an long-lasting trail in the sky. It’s a display you certainly have to see to truly appreciate.
It was then time for the display we had all been waiting for – the 2010 RAF Typhoon display, this year the display is piloted by Flt Lt Tim Clement and he puts on an outstanding performance, with an excellent take-off into an immediate climb Tim rarely relieves the reheat, creating plenty of those dramatic photo opportunities. For a finale Tim shows the awesome climb rate the Typhoon possesses, with a full power vertical climb up-to 10,000ft. The Typhoon display certainly seems to evolve as the years go by, getting better and better each season.
As always the Cotswold Airshow has not disappointed, with a great line-up and beautiful weather on the Sunday, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event. It’s such a shame for those who attended on the Saturday and had unfortunate weather. For now, that’s the Cotswold Airshow over for another year, next year’s event is due to take place on the 18th and 19th June 2011.