Billed as “The Midlands Premier Air Event”, Cosford 2010 certainly lived up to it’s name, with a varied show more akin to shows such as RIAT or Farnborough. Ben Montgomery was present for Aero Resource.
Arriving at Cosford just after 8AM, it was hard to believe that last year the crowd had swollen to 60,000 people. 1 hour later, and it was no longer unclear. As the sun came out, so did the public, with the Cosford car parks fast filling up. With the flying due to start at 11:38AM precisely, there was plenty of time to take a leisurely wander through the RAF Cosford Museum, as well as the Engineering hangars, which were kindly opened up for the public.
Of particular interest, were the Jaguar aircraft currently in residence at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE). Normally kept in the hangars, and run up on the ground every few weeks, some of these aircraft were open for the public to view and even sit it. A nice touch was that one of the aircraft was XX119, the “Jaguar” painted Jaguar – great for the public, but not so good for the photographer, as the aircraft was covered in scaffolding to allow access. Still, there were plenty of other Jaguars and Tornados around to pick from. Many of the Jaguars had been moved around behind one of the hangars, but a short walk around the side offered a rather good view of a collection of beautiful aircraft.
There were also a wide variety of RAF personnel out and about to show off the Air Force to the public. Displays included an SA-8 “Gecko” Surface to Air Missile Launcher, from the Spadeadam range, RAF Regiment personnel and their weapons, an RAF Signals Unit display, and plenty of Engineering displays, including demonstrations of the Hydraulic systems on a Jaguar, and of the reverse thrust Mechanism on an RB199 engine. All of these very interesting, and something unique that Cosford can offer.
Sensibly, the entrance price included access to all of the Museum hangars, and this provided a few hours pleasant viewing – particularly of the MH-53M, which was bathed in some rare light, due to the door next to her being open. A rather nice photo opportunity was not wasted here! It was great to see so much interest being shown in the Museum, with a great many people taking the time to view it properly, rather than as just a “time filler” before the flying display.
The entire day could easily have been spent looking around the various exhibits and the museum, but by 11AM, it was time to go and find a good spot for the flying display. Although the official display was not due to start until 11:38, flying at Cosford was underway for a good hour beforehand, courtesy of the Large Model Aircraft Group. Although the Vulcan, XH558 was unable to fly at the display, a scale model of her did take to the air, as well as models of the Victor, Hunter, MB339, and several World War 1 models. At distance, it was often easy to mistake the models for their full size counterparts, due to the precision of the models, and the skill with which they were flown.
As advertised, the flying started bang on time, with The Yakovlevs Display Team in their smart silver and red paint scheme taking to the skies. Their display used Vangelis’ “Conquest of Paradise” song, which had perfect timings for the display, one of the few occasions that music has been a good addition to the flying. Some rather impressive formation flying and aerobatics followed – having never seen this team before, they were certainly very impressive, and a great opening act.
For the next display, something entirely different (variety was set to become somewhat of a theme of the show) – the Royal Air Force Falcons. Jumping from a Cessna Caravan at around 3500 feet, they had to open their parachutes almost immediately, and proceeded straight down to the ground. Upon arrival, the team members were straight to the crowd line, handing out hats, stickers, mousepads and other Falcons branded merchandise – a move which really won the crowd over, especially the younger members.
As the Falcons were packing away their ‘chutes, a much faster and noisier member of the RAF arrived – Flight Lieutenant Tim Clement flying the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4. Pulling straight into a vertical quarter clover on arrival, the noise from the two EJ200 Turbofans on reheat caused quite a few fingers in ears, but surprisingly not many car alarms! The 2010 display is very powerful, and really shows off what the aircraft is capable of. Many new manoeuvres have been added (such as a stomach turning negative 3.5G outside turn!), which make the new display routine more energetic, faster and louder than previous displays.
Continuing with RAF aircraft, but moving to completely the other end of the RAF Timeline, taking to the air next was the Great War Display team, putting on a fantastic mock dogfight between a Sopwith Triplane and Pup, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a and Nieuport 17, against a Fokker DR.1 Triplane, supported by two Junkers CL1s. This display really was great fun, whilst at the same time showing the type of aerial warfare that was present in the First World War – organised chaos may be the best description!
The next four displays were all RAF training aircraft – namely the Grob Tutor, BAe Systems Hawk, Shorts Tucano and Beech King Air. It was either very well thought out to have these displays together, or a lucky coincidence, as it gave a good sense of the various stages that a prospective RAF pilot goes through on their way to front line service. The Tutor, flown this year by Flt Lt Bill Ramsey inevitably seemed a bit distant, as always happens with such a small aircraft, but flew some tremendous aerobatics to make up for it (which hopefully enthralled the younger viewers, who may well go on to fly one in years to come!). The Hawk this year, resplendent in the much discussed 2010 display scheme also flew a very tidy display, with some nice curving topside passes for the photographer, as well as a high speed run-in (coupled with a slightly over the top introduction over the radio, more akin to USAF fast jet displays).
This years Tucano display scheme is another which has already been greatly discussed. The aircraft flown at Cosford was the “Tucfire”, although her sistership, the “Spitano” was also present. Unfortunately the entire display was flown in the cloud, despite some promising blue patches in the sky overhead – it seems that we will have to wait to see her display in the sunshine! Taking to the skies next, with an impressively short takeoff run, and some rather optimistic music, was Flt Lt Leon Creese, flying the Beech BE200 King Air, from 45(R) Squadron. There is something rather fascinating about seeing this small passenger aircraft being flown in the style of a fighter, and the Khe Sanh approach was as spectacular as ever. Unfortunately there was no repeat of the “Blue Sky” phenomenon from RIAT 2009 (when, to the tune of ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky”, Leon managed to display against the only blue sky of the day!).
Next on the list (after the arrival on an unexplained Piper PA-28) was a rather colourful, and loud aircraft, from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The 2010 RNLAF Demonstration Team F-16, flown by Captain Tobias “Hitec” Schutte, entered from Crowd Left with a deceptively slow pass, straight into a full afterburner climb. Very stylish! Despite the grey skies, the bright afterburner and vivid paintscheme made sure that this jet stood out very easily. Flying from RAF Brize Norton, from where the aircraft had flown for the Brize Norton Families Day the day before, the F-16 was a fantastic participant for Cosford, and hats off to the Airshow Team for managing to secure a display.
And then, onto perhaps the biggest surprise of the day – the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. Initially billed to appear, but then cancelled after their training accident in Cyprus, the Reds received their PDA days before the show, and were able to display. Another interesting point is that this year the Reds have their first female pilot – Flt Lt Kirsty Moore (a fact which had all the ladies in the audience cheering!). The display was nothing short of the exceptional flying of which we have come to expect from the Red Arrows, with some rather impressive new formations, including a rather unusual “T” formation.
The RAF contributed four more displays, three of them “firsts” for the year. The first Harrier display (of 2010), the first Tornado Role Demonstration, and the first public performance of the Typhoon and Spitfire pair. Up first was the Tornado Role Demonstration, and for those familiar with the RAF Role Demo piece of 2007/08, the best way to describe it would be to call it simply the Tornado element of that Demo with added flair. Multiple passes included a “Show of Force”, strafing run and the final bombing run – with added afterburner and vapour. A great show, and the warmth of the explosions was fantastic in the cold, as well as the pressure wave from the detonation. All too soon the show was over, and it was onto the next act.
The Harrier display was another eagerly awaited act. Unusually for a fast jet, this display included no aerobatics – but the Harrier didn’t need them. As he taxied onto the runway (flown by Flt Lt Steve Kenworthy), the heavens quite literally opened, and it poured with rain. It didn’t stop raining for another few hours, but the worst was unfortunately during the Harrier’s display time. The one advantage of the rain was for the Harriers showpiece – vertical flight. On touchdown, so much spray was kicked up that the aircraft virtually disappeared!
The BBMF put in an appearance as well, unfortunately without the Lancaster, which had been grounded due to undercarriage problems. The component this year therefore comprised of the Hurricane IIc and Spitfire LFIXe. The pair were able to conduct several flypasts, as both a pair and as a single, which was appreciated, especially given the continually worsening weather conditions.
The final item provided for Cosford by the RAF was the Typhoon/Spitfire demo – again unfortunately in pouring rain. Going by what had been seen in practises, I only expected a few flypasts, but the display included more than a few, as well as a final opposition pass, which saw the Typhoon climb out on full burner, whilst the Spitfire victory-rolled away.
Slotted in amongst these final RAF items were displays from the Blades, the Belgian Air Force Sea King, Jet Provost, a two ship of Air Atlantique Venoms, and a joint display from Miss Demeanour and Golden Apple’s F-86A Sabre.
The Blades flew a very Dynamic routine, with lots of fantastic aerobatics, as single ships, duos and the full team. One particularly impressive move was a formation stall turn, which looked very professional!
A rather tidy display from the Heritage Aviation Jet Provost, still resplendent in the colours of 1FTS. This Jet Provost is one of the lowest-houred aircraft left of the type, ensuring that it will continue to display for many years to come. The JP was flown very exuberantly, with lots of topsides and curving fast passes, that would look fantastic in a clear blue sky!
The contribution from Air Atlantique today consisted of two De Havilland Venoms. The participation was expected to be a Venom and Meteor, but their Meteor NF.14 was having maintenance issues, and so could not display. Two Venoms in the air together was not something to be rejected though, and it was a fantastic sight, as well as sound, from the two Goblin engines.
Replacing these two classic jets with another pair of classic jets, except slightly brighter. The brightness was from the legendary paint scheme on Miss Demeanour – Jonathon Whalley’s Hunter F.58A. Alongside this flew the Golden Apple Operations F-86A Sabre. This jet has long been rumoured to be returning to the USA, but as of the end of May, no definitive buyer has been found. This pair first flew together at the September Duxford Airshow of 2009, and has become something of a favourite. The formation flypast at Cosford seemed to be much tighter than that at Duxford, which was very welcome for the photographers!
Unfortunately the weather had by now fully closed in, and the Royal Naval Historic Flight Sea Hawk that was in the air en route to Cosford had to be turned around. Team Viper also had to cancel, and Cosford’s Battle of Britain Finale – “A Moment of Eternity” also had to be cancelled. Credit to the Breitling Wing Walking Team, Twister, and the Aerostars, who all managed to fly despite the horrible wind, rain and cloud, and still put on a cracking show. Top airmanship from all concerned, and very much appreciated by the few members of the public who had stayed long enough to watch.
All in all, Cosford 2010 was, in the authors opinion, a resounding success, despite the weather. An incredibly varied display, including several new and rare items, coupled with items of extra interest, as well as a fantastically interactive ground display, meant that this truly was “The Midlands Premier Air Event”.