RNAS Yeovilton is celebrating its 70th birthday this year and the Air Day 2010 is set to showcase the magnificent history and current operations that are undertaken around the world from this busy Somerset air station. AeroResource attended the Press Launch of the Air Day 2010 to get an insight on what the event will hold for the public on July 10th.

Yeovilton, also known as HMS Heron has played a big role within the Royal Navy for 70 years and this year’s Air Day will encompass the history of the airfield along with present day and future operations of the squadrons currently based there.

With a great line up of aircraft from within the United Kingdom and International participants, Air day 2010 will feature a whole host of special events to keep everyone entertained. From a fantastic five hour flying display, which ranges from fast jets and helicopters to a full line up of historic naval aircraft and exciting static aircraft, the show will conclude with the famous Helicopter Assault demonstration which includes the fabulous wall of fire spectacle.

Established in 1940, RNAS Yeovilton was constructed to train fighter pilots and air observers of the Fleet Air Arm. The air station played a key role in World War II and operated the Hawker Sea Hurricane along with the Supermarine Seafire, the navalised variant of the Spitfire. Air Day 2010 will feature the only flying Hawker Sea Hurricane in the world, which is operated by the Shuttleworth Collection, and of which hasn’t displayed here for 7 years. Not only this, to compliment the Sea Hurricane, the Seafire will also be making an appearance from Kennet Aviation.

The Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) of the Fleet Air Arm will feature heavily in the birthday celebrations and they hope to get all the types flying during Air Day 2010. The Fairey Swordfish, one of the icons of the Fleet Air Arm during World War II with victories such as participating in the sinking of the Bismark and destroying much of the Italian fleet at Taranto, will be a highlight in the flying programme for many.

Moving on to the late 1940’s and early 1950’s the RNHF will also show off the Hawker Sea Fury and Hawker Sea Hawk to present a big leap in technology from the Sea Fury and piston powered engines to the Sea Hawk which was powered by the jet engine. From the 1950’s onwards, Yeovilton hosted a number of different aircraft which are scheduled to display in the celebrations. These being the De Havilland Vampire, Venom, and the Hawker Hunter – which was a serious shift in capability for the Fleet Air Arm.

From that period onwards the FAA also operated the powerful and very noisy F-4 Phantom and Buccaneer which were which eventually moved out and were replaced by the world famous Sea Harrier. Yeovilton were a key asset in the Falklands campaign in which all of the squadrons were involved in action against Argentina in the South Atlantic.

The Sea Harrier FRS.1 was flown off HMS Hermes and Invincible and played a key role in defeating the Argentine Air Force over the islands. The FRS.1 was replaced in the mid 1990’s by the much more advanced Sea Harrier F/A.2 which had a improved ground attack capability as well as an advanced air interception capability with the very capable AMRAAM medium ranged air-air missile, as well as the Blue Vixen Radar which even now is thought to be one of the most advanced radars fitted to any interception aircraft.

The Sea Harrier was prematurely taken out of service in 2006, but the Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm that operated the Sea Harrier still live on in the guise of the Joint Harrier Force.

Currently based at RAF Cottesmore, the Fleet Air Arm operate the Harrier GR9. With 800 and 801NAS operating under the name of the Naval Strike Wing and the training squadron, 899NAS, operating jointly with the RAF at Wittering.

The Naval Strike Wing will feature a now rare display in the way of the Harrier GR9 role demo, of which Yeovilton Air Day 2010 will be one of only a handful of airshows that have this exciting opportunity. The Harrier is loved by all ages and a firm favourite for families and enthusiasts alike.

As expect, helicopters are a big part of Air Day 2010 and those who have been to previous Air Day’s at Yeovilton will know the Royal Navy put on a very good show of rotary action.

702NAS, featuring the Blackcats Helicopter Display Team, will be taking part this year and with the teams two new pilots; Lt. Becky Frater, who is the first female Blackcats pilot and will be taking the position “Black Lead” which is the lead pilot and is joined by Lt. Chris Chambers in “Black 2”. The Blackcats will highlight the Lynx’s extensive repertoire of agility and the impeccable flying abilities of modern Fleet Air Arm personnel. 702NAS will also be involved in the assault demo providing the Lynx in the tactical support role with their M3M .50cal door guns.

The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) will feature heavily in the Air Day 2010, with the Seaking HC4 and HC6 taking part in the assault demo together with the Lynx AH7 and AH9 of 847NAS.

The Seaking’s will be showing off their underslung load ability as well as tactical assault which showcases the Royal Marines fast roping out of the cabin and taking over hostile compounds in a fantastic pyrotechnic filled display.

To compliment the Yeovilton based helicopters, RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall will be sending a Merlin HM1 for the flying display, which enables the public to see just how agile this very large helicopter is. To enable the public to see the future of Yeovilton, the Westland Wildcat will be making its debut public display at Air Day 2010. This new Lynx will be replacing the current types already with 702 and 815NAS as well as the Army Air Corps.

Air Day 2010 additionally feature a wide array of fast jet action in the way of two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Netherlands Air Force and Belgian Air Force, both of which put on a very impressive and agile display. Two more F-16’s from the Danish Air Force will be on the static show for the public to get up close and talk to the pilots.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows will also be flying, as will the Spanish display team – the Patrulla Aguila, who will be performing their sole UK 2010 display at Yeovilton flying seven Casa Aviojets.

The Royal Jordanian Falcons with their Extra 300 aerobatic aircraft will be making another appearance at Air Day 2010 as will the Breitling wing walkers, which feature a Boeing Stearman bi-plane each with a glamorous girl on top of the wing.

The Static show features many aircraft from different nations including a German Air Force F-4 Phantom, of which the same type once flew from RNAS Yeovilton with the Fleet Air Arm.

Another star attraction will be the Avro Vulcan bomber, which will once again be visiting Yeovilton Air Day and is scheduled to take part in the flying display. This cold war era RAF nuclear bomber is always a favourite with the public due to the dynamic display and shear noise of the aircraft.

Ground attractions will feature the Royal Marines Band, Fun rides for the kids at the fairground. Ground displays including various simulators and tents showing operational commitments and showing what the FAA and Royal Marines do around the world.
The Hangars will be open to the public with various helicopters and ground displays inside including excellent industry related programmes which will benefit the FAA in the future. This includes the new aircraft carriers, weapon systems and aircraft.

Details of additional airborne and ground-based aircraft participation will be unveiled on the official Air Day website – www.yeoviltonairday.co.uk – in the weeks leading up to the show.

AeroResource would like to thank the Yeovilton PRO – Carolyn Jones for her assistance in covering the event.