Lear reports on Cosford's 2007 airshow
In the days leading up to Cosford's Airshow, weather forecasters had foretold
of gorgeous weather, with clear sunshine and soaring temperatures. Sadly,
this was not the case with most of the day burdened with low cloud, restricting
pilots to do their flat shows, disappointing for those keen to see different
displays blend into a perfect background of blue sky with the odd cloud.
On going into the site itself, two Tucanos were parked up, both in special
display schemes (perfect for the aviation enthusiast) plus the Chinook
was resting in a spot near to the station along with all the usual display
aircraft parked in front of the limited runway (Huey, Blue Eagles, Vigilants,
Tutor, Mustang and Kittyhawk, just to name a few). It was rather interesting
to see the rare Huey parked next to an AAC Gazelle, with the Huey being
a fair bit larger in size.
So on to
the flying itself! The display programme officially got underway with
the RAF's solo display Hawk, Flt Lt Mike Child giving us his flat display.
It was particularly tricky to capture the special colour scheme the Hawk
was wearing in the awful conditions but nonetheless, it proved to be a
great display item with plenty of fast, tight passes, vapour and noise.
Next up was the unmistakable sound of the Packard Merlin engine roaring
down the runway
in the shape of P-51D Mustang Jumpin' Jacques'. Although his display was
limited, Peter Teichmann showed off quite clearly just why the Mustang
was considered one of the best fighters of the Second World War, plus
putting in plenty of low passes as well as a couple of knife-edge ones,
pleasing for us photographers.
Then a loud thumping noise could be heard - roaring into life, the Huey
got airborne and went straight into its display. After the Huey came the
specially painted Tucano, the Chinook, the arrival of the Blades and the
brand-new Team Guinot, who in your scribe's point of view, puts on a better
display than the previously painted 'Utterly Butterly' Barnstormers -
helped largely by the eye-catching pink colour scheme! After these barnstorming
antics came the beautiful whistling noise of the Hispano HA-112 (or Messerschmitt
Me109), flown elegantly by Cliff Spink, who is Chairman of the new company
Spitfire Ltd, who the Buchon is based with.
for this year is the RAF's Role Demonstration, replacing
the solo displays of the Harrier GR7, Hercules C5 and Tornado GR4.
It involves two Tornado F3s, two Tornado GR4s (although there was
only one at Cosford), Chinook, two Hawk T1s (the bandits), a Hercules
and an E-3D Sentry. The display starts off with the E-3D coming
in at low level before the Tornado F3s appear at centre and cross
over and do a few flypasts, inspecting the area, followed by the
Chinook racing in to drop troops off with strafing attacks surrounding
it. The Tornado F3s circle around the area before two Hawks appear
out of nowhere, which the F3s race off to intercept. The Hercules
then comes in to the airfield and drops off jeeps and resources
before back-tracking the whole length of the runway before lifting
off. As all this is going on, the E-3D is circling high above, keeping
watch below. With everything out of the way, the F3s keep looking
for the Hawks as they come across the runway but a Tornado GR4 comes
in at low level for a high-speed pass with almighty explosions -
it wakes the crowd up! When the airfield is 'secure', the mass flypasts
appear starting with the E-3 then Chinook, Hercules, Tornados and
the Hawks before the Hercules gives a very short tactical demonstration!
From the people I talked to, they liked the Role Demonstration as
it provides plenty of action and suspense - it was certainly a popular
act among the rest of the crowd and positive for the RAF.
the crowd favourites, the Red Arrows, although unfortunately also doing
their flat show. Typically, the clouds started to lift straight after
they had finished. Their display was not uneventful - after the split
into two groups, 'Enid' and 'Gypo', Red 8 came along the runway preparing
for the 'Goose' but suddenly broke off to the right behind the audience
as Reds 1 to 5 came back on the display line, then proceeded to circle
around the Cosford area. The commentator, Sqn Ldr Andy Robbins, reported
that a microlight had got into the area and the Reds could not continue
- they circled the microlight trying to make him turn back. Fortunately
he did, but moments after another appeared in the area! With fuel limited,
the Reds had to abandon their display. They finished with the traditional
'Vixen Break' before heading back to RAF Shawbury, where most of the aircraft
participating recovered. Credit must go to Red 1, Sqn Ldr Jas Hawker,
for handling the situation with perfect consideration and safety, although
I doubt the microlight pilots will escape unscathed - a huge embarrassment
for them, they deserve every punishment they get.
By two o'clock
the skies had cleared but it was incredibly hazy up above, and displays
after the Reds were the Sea Fury, Skyraider (flown by John Beattie), a
powerful routine by Jim Walls in the new Typhoon F2, the Royal Navy's
Black Cats, a Bucker Jungmann, Extra 300 and the Battle of Britain Memorial
Flight's Spitfire and Hurricane AB910 and PZ865.
After the graceful displays of the Spitfire and Hurricane, eyes peered
to the skies as it was the turn of the RAF Falcons, but they didn't jump
from their usual C-130K/J - instead they borrowed the BBMF's Dakota ZA947,
which then did a solo display after the Falcons had landed safely. Displays
followed with the RAF's Tutor, AAC Blue Eagles and the Sukhoi Su29/31,
followed by the wonderful new RAF Role Demonstration (see column left).
It was now time for the penultimate performer in the hands of Stu Goldspink,
the Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk with that tiger scheme on the nose - Stu really
does know how to show off in a warbird with plenty of loops, rolls and
topside passes. We should then have had Air Atlantique's Canberra B2/6,
but that had gone unserviceable, so its replacement, Peter Vacher's Hurricane
R4118 was due to appear, although sadly they couldn't get her to start
too, so we were left with a big gap after the P-40 before the last team
of the day, led by Andy Offer, the incredible Blades took to the air.
The team fly modified Extra 300 aircraft, the 'LP version, and the solo
display pilot for this year is Myles Garland, who produced an excellent
display - you could tell all the team were former members of the Red Arrows.
After the flying had finished there was a chance to look around the static
and the museums. On static was Team Merlin's Merlin HC3, unfortunately
not in the flying programme due to operational constraints, plus there
were a lot of Jaguars, an Royal Navy Lynx, Jetstream, a plastic Typhoon
and a lot of museum exhibits dragged out for the day.