Mike Kerr reports with a retro glance back at the 2009 Waddington Air Show and previews the 2010 show, only weeks away.
The Vulcan's Return
This year's Waddington was seen by some to be the year of the Vulcan after numerous aircraft pulled out of the show just days before.
I know it's unfair to pin all your hopes on one aircraft but after a successful engine test late on Friday it was deemed fit to fly. What a difference a day makes as by 9.00am on Saturday news was spreading fast that the Delta lady would not be flying due to a lapse in the paperwork. Some of the more optimistic hoped Sunday would see her in the air in a planned flypast with the Reds but it was not to be.
Still at least the Vulcan support team had the presence of mind to tow the aircraft into the static park for the adoring fans to photograph and just be with XH558. Much has been said regarding the Vulcan's return to the skies but probably the last thing people would have bet on to ground her would be an expired document.
Tragic news was received as a Tornado F3 from Leuchars crashed in Scotland, sadly with the loss of both crew. So near to its retirement, it may have had some part to play in the type's absence from the show.
Moving on the static park did suffer from a lack of aircraft and the addition of many civil aeroplanes along with some plastic ones trying to make it stretch as far as possible along the taxiway. A nice surprise was the freshly painted Lightning F6 XR770 AA in 5 Squadron markings outside the Squadron hangar. A German F-4F Phantom and two Dutch F-16s was also welcome as it seems increasingly difficult for countries to contribute to foreign displays, where inevitably some aircraft were lost to the air show at Koksijde.
The flying display started with the home team getting airborne with the E-3 and the Nimrod R1 in separate fly-bys as they headed off for a mission returning many hours later. One of the RAF's newest aircraft, the Sentinel R1, made an impressive take off straight into a spiral ascending climb in a show of power and turning performance.
Navy Hawks were present in numbers with smart tail logos stating "Fly Navy 100" celebrating 100 years of Naval Aviation, which displayed along with the two Falcon 20s putting on a superb display.
quartet of Belgian Alpha Jets graced the skies with a few fly-bys before
setting a heading back to Koksijde presumably
in return for the Reds displaying in Belgium.
For many of the regular air show enthusiasts the lack of the much-respected RAF role demo left only memories of this truly spectacular event, as it was becoming a big part of major air show flying programmes. Today's RAF resources are stretched to cover all the conflicts in which they are involved and most people understand this, but the role demo needs to be re-instated to really show the public what British air power can deliver in times of trouble.
Waddington 2010 Preview 3rd/4th July
Thankfully the Icelandic volcano seems to be calming down so we can look forward to one of the best looking line-ups at Waddington in recent years. The show is only weeks away and many enthusiasts will be heading for the Lincolnshire airfield.
Themes for this year's event are as follows:
Of special note is the 35th anniversary of the E-3's introduction into service and almost unbelievably 20 years of RAF E-3D Sentry operations.
The airshow team have invited AEW operators from around the globe and it is hoped that many countries that fly airborne early warning aircraft will attend the show.
E-3D Sentry ZH102 was the first airframe to be delivered to the RAF at Waddington on the 4th of July 1990 and a static display to mark the event will provide an opportunity for a closer inspection of these highly specialised aircraft.
70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain
A special theme to commemorate the gallant efforts of the RAF during their "finest hour" as they fought aerial battles over southern Britain.
To commemorate this historical 70th anniversary the airshow team have put together a 45 minute flying display with simulated airfield attacks complete with pyrotechnics and aerial dogfights. The finale will be a mass flypast of the participating aircraft to ensure that we do not forget the men and machines that 70 years ago gave so much and ultimately paid with their lives.
90th Anniversary of the 1st Airshow
RAF Waddington is planning to recreate this unique event that took place at RAF Hendon on the 3rd of July 1920, hailed as the first ever airshow and will include aircraft from this era.
Waddington 2010 will certainly be the event that's got everyone talking and there is plenty to keep aviation enthusiasts and the public entertained over the weekend.
Highlights will include the Turkish Stars flying the F-5 Freedom Fighter and the Czech Republic flying a JAS-39 Gripen.
Currently work is being carried out with the fitting of the port undercarriage leg to Vulcan XH558 at RAF Lyneham so it may not be ready in time for the show. The Vulcan will a major draw for air show enthusiasts as it just seems to create nostalgia sitting on the apron at RAF Waddington with many considering it to be the historical home of the Vulcan.
RAF participation is looking strong this year with the Typhoon and Spitfire
pair as well as a solo Typhoon display. Also two Tornado GR4s from XV(R)
Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth will perform a scorching airfield attack and pairs
opposition manoeuvres and a Chinook will fly one of only four displays
listed this year. Returning to the show this year after a much missed absence is the Harrier
GR9 from IV(R) Squadron at RAF Wittering and this will display its own role demo.
Some highlights from the static display will include Czech Republic Mi-24 Hind and An-26 transport aircraft.
The French Air force will be bringing an E-3F Sentry and a C160 Transall and the Austrian Air Force are sending a C-130K Hercules.
Waddington 2010 promises to be a bumper year with everything from the SE5a to the high-tech Typhoon with the Vulcan hopefully somewhere in between, keeping the crowds entertained in the skies above Waddington.
Check out the full participation list for the show at www.waddingtonairshow.co.uk