Saturday, 19 July 2014

Waddington International Air Show 2014

Brothers in Arms
For the last time in the first half of the second decade of the 21st century RAF Waddington opened its gates to the public to lay on a show to rivalled many previous events. Next year the airfield will be given an overhaul and no air show will be staged at this famous Lincolnshire Bomber Command airfield.

The weather was not conducive to display flying during the early part of the day on the Saturday due to low cloud and persistent fine rain. However, it cleared up to give a rather splendid day, especially towards the latter part of the afternoon. It did gave rise to some interesting lighting and vertex effects though for the photographers amongst the crowd.

The actual flying got underway at 10 o'clock with the station flight launching three aircraft, The E-3 Sentry, EC-135 Rivet Joint and the Sentinel R1. We would see the latter two appearing through the clouds on one occasion, but the trio actually returned late lunchtime.

The display teams

Extra 300 - Royal Jordanian Falcons 
Extra 300 - TheBlades
The show was a mix of current and classic aircraft types with y two debut performances and a handful of excellent display teams.
The Royal Jordanian Falcons displayed using three of their Extra 300 aircraft only, but that did not mean their performance was any less. They delivered a stunning series of maneuvers in a manner we have become accustomed to over the years that we have had the privilege of seeing perform at British air shows.

EC-135 Kolibri- FAE Patrulla ASPA
Gnat Display Team
Royal Air Force Red Arrows

Newcomers to the British air show circuit were the Spanish Air Force Patrulla ASPA team in their colourful EC-135 Kolibri helicopters. I had the privilege of seeing them for the first time at a Royal Netherlands Air Force Open House in 2010 and their display routine at Waddington was no less impressive. Another new team of the circuit for 2014 is the three-ship Gnat Display Team of North Weald flying the venerable Folland Gnat T1 trainers, one in Training Command colours, one in the colours of the Red Arrows and the final one in the plumage of the Yellow Jacks. The latter two aircraft played an important role in a flypast later in the day to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Air Force display team the Red Arrows.

Red Arrows 50th Anniversary Formation

 Shown in the picture above is that special anniversary formation, lead by the Red Arrows, with a black Hunter T7 (representing the Black Arrows), a red Gnat T1 (representing the previous generation of Red Arrows aircraft) and a yellow Gnat T1 (representing the Red Arrows predecessors, the Yellow Jacks). This one-off formation made two passes and only flew on the Saturday of the show and probably the most fitting celebration of 50 years of Red Arrows air display excellence..

 The Waddington Station Flight

No Waddington air show is complete without the participation of the local station flight, which used to consist of the E-3 Sentry and the Nimrod R1. In later years the Sentinel R1 was added and with the decommissioning of the Nimrod R1s, there was a void, at least until this year when that void was filled to the brim by the Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint. 
Boeing E-3C Sentry

Bombardier/Raytheon Sentinel R1
Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint
For the RC-135, this appears to have been only it third flight since arriving in the UK toward the end of 2013. It was forced to overshoot as the Sentinel, which had landed immediately ahead of it was till on the runway. That provided a good photo opportunity as the sun was out by now as evidenced by the images above.

Regular Performers

No main air show in the UK is complete without participation from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Waddington 2014 was no exception where they turned up in force.
Vickers Supermarine Spitfire PR19 PS915

Vickers Supermarine Spitfire LF9E MK356
Avro Lancaster I PA474

Douglas C-47 Dakota ZA947

EF-2000 Typhoon GR4 and Spitfire LF9E MK356 in their D-Day stripes commemorating the D-Day landings

The most notable of the current fast jet displays were the Swiss Air Forces F-18C Hornet, the Turkish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon and the RAF EF-2000 Typhoon GR4.
Swiss Air Force F-18C Hornet showing off with typical Swiss flair
Turkish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon after a very entertaining display
The helicopter displays, normally expected at these shows were all present, including a pyrotechnics accompanied display by the AH-64D Apache, a rather agile performance by the every popular CH-47D Chinook and some very entertaining twirlings by an Army Lynx.

RN Westland Lynx & Wildcat
Westland Seaking HAR3
Two highlights here were the team display by an RN Lynx and a Wildcat and the final display of the venerable Westland Seaking HAR3, the aircraft having come from RAF Leconfield in Yorkshire.

Classic Performers

There were some of the usual performers, but also a couple of unusual types that have not been seen at RAF Waddington very many years. From Belgium came an attractively restored ex-Luftwaffe Bronco, which was expertly flown. The Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation's F6 N-294 performed in rather damp conditions and with low cloud during the morning providing some interesting effects as did the clouds during the display of the Canberra and later in the day the Swiss Hornet. The Saab Viggen was a welcome addition to the programme and even more so its older brother teh SK35C Draken, the training version of the J-35C Draken. This particular aircraft was making its air show debut following recent completion of its restoration to airworthiness status and successful test flights. Both aircraft were skillfully displayed to show off the capabilities of both aircraft, including their short take-off runs. For Vulcan XH558 this would be her last air show at RAF Waddington, with the airfield refurbishments being carried out during 2015 and there being no air show.
Boeing -17G Flying Fortress Sally B

VTTST Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Ex-Luftwaffe North American OV-10A Bronco

Dutch Hawker Hunter Flight Hawker Hunter F6 N-294
Midair English Electric Canberra PR9 XH134

Royal Swedish Air Force Historic Flight Saab SF35C Draken
Royal Swedish Air Force Historic Flight Saab AJS37 Viggen
The Gnat Display Team of North Weald had been chosen to close the show on Saturday and they did so in style with a great deal of finesse and airmanship. The three-ship Gnat T1 team hopes to augment the team with a single-seat Gnat F1 later in 2014. Here are a few more images of these most colourful of little jets.


Non-flying Participants

The extensive static park contained a variety of interesting aircraft type, including an AW-109 and BAe146 of the ETPS at Boscombe Down and this rather unusual Boeing 727 equipped to combat oil spillages on the seas and oceans. Westland Whirlwind HAR10 did not display, although it did taxy under its own power from the flight line to the static park during the morning proceedings. It has flown in from its base in Somerset.

OSR Boeing 727-100

Westland Whirlwind HAR10

RAF EH-101 Merlin HC3

Piaggio P-160
AMI Boeing KC-767 

AMI Alenia C-27 Spartan

US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon

Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47D Chinook D-101

....and finally

This was a very well organised air show, which is what we have come to expect, a great family day out and affording some fantastic photographic opportunities for the enthusiasts. Well done, once again, Waddington team.

The final picture is literally that, as, unless circumstances change, which is highly unlikely, a picture like it can never be taken again. I started with "Brothers in Arms" and that is what I am ending with.

Brothers in Arms
Theo Claassen
20 July 2014

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Theo. A great report and superb photos. Get well soon. DAG