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RAF Waddington International Airshow 2009
 
Sentry AEW1 - ZH101 - 8 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tristar C2A - ZE706 - 216 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Nimrod R1 - XW665 - 51 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Lynx HMA8 - XZ726/302 - 815 Naval Air Squadron - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm
 
Antonov AN-2 - LY-BIG - Air Unique - United Kingdom   Antonov AN-2 - LY-BIG - Air Unique - United Kingdom   De Havilland Vampire T11 - G-VTII - Vampire Preservation Group - United Kingdom   De Havilland Vampire T11 - G-VTII - Vampire Preservation Group - United Kingdom
 
Blue Eagles Para Display Team - Royal Air Force

Waddington International Airshow 2009

Words and photography Mike Freer

The annual RAF Waddington Air Show held over the weekend of July 4th-5th was a huge success, with massive crowds attending on both days. The weather was fine and warm and though a few dark clouds threatened on Sunday, everyone stayed dry if not sun burnt. Gone are the days of large scale front line military aircraft participation at air shows due to budgetary constraints and this was certainly evident at RAF Waddington this year. However, there was a very wide and varied selection of aircraft on view, both on the ground and in the air.

RAF Waddington is the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), supporting British and NATO operations. To accomplish this 8 and 23 Squadrons operate the E-3D Sentry AEW.1 in the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) role; 51 Squadron with the Nimrod R1 in the electronic intelligence role (to be replaced by the Boeing RC-135); and 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron operate the Sentinel R1 in the Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) radar surveillance role. 5(AC) Squadron has recently taken delivery of a number of Shadow R1 aircraft (converted Beech King Aircraft), but none of these were on view to the public.

The flying display commenced with the Falcons Display Team free fall parachute drop from a Chinook helicopter that managed to find a hole in the cloud that had bubbled up. The team members are all parachute instructors and part of their duties is the training of Special Forces.

The thunderous roar of jet engines heralded the “home team” taking off, with a Sentry AEW.1, Nimrod R.1 and Sentinel R.1 taking off in quick succession to return later to conduct a flypast. Other “heavy metal” to appear later in the day was a Tristar C2A of 216 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton. This type of aircraft is rarely seen at air shows due to their very heavy overseas trooping and air refuelling commitments. Indeed this aircraft had only just returned from Afghanistan the day before.

There were a number of aerobatic display teams performing at this year’s air show. First to perform was the Polish Air Force Team Orlik with their PZL-130 Orlik light training aircraft. This team has not been seen in the UK for a number of years and made a very welcome return. The team members are volunteers and they represent the 2nd Basic Flying Training Centre from Radom-Sadkow.

 
PZL130TC-I Orlik - 024 - 2. OSzL - Polish Air Force   PZL130TC-I Orlik - 044 - 2. OSzL - Polish Air Force   PZL130 Orlik - Unknown - Polish Air Force   PZL130 Orlik - 2. OSzL - Polish Air Force
 
Alpha Jet E - Patrouille de France - French Air Force   Alpha Jet E - Patrouille de France - French Air Force   Alpha Jet E - E122 (w/o 13-04-2010) - Patrouille de France - French Air Force   Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm
 
Nimrod R1 - XW665 - 51 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
L-39ZA Albatross - ES-TLG/3 - Tean Breitling   L-39ZA Albatross - Team Breitling   L-39ZA Albatross - ES-YLI/4 - Team Breitling   Apache AH1 - ZJ222 - 673 Squadron - Army Air Corps
 
Hawk T1A - XX261 - Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm   Hawk T1A - XX159 - Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm   Hawk T1 - XX294 - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T2 - ZK021 - 19 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 

Two other major European aerobatic display teams also appeared at this year’s event. The French Air Force display team Patrouille de France flying Alpha Jet aircraft vied for honours alongside our own Red Arrows team.

Civilian aerobatic teams have been a major attraction at European air shows in recent years and three such teams appeared at this year’s event. Team Breitling performed with their L-39 jet aircraft as did Team Viper flying four Strike Master aircraft. The slower, but highly manoeuvrable, Blades team cavorted around the sky in their small, but nimble, Extra 300 aircraft.

Solo aerobatic displays were conducted by an RAF Tutor and a Hawk T.1 while the French Air Force provided an Alpha Jet. A stomach churning display of aerobatics was performed by a civilian operated Pitts Special bi-plane. Other solo acts from the RAF were performed by a Beech King Air multi-engine trainer from RAF Cranwell and a Typhoon from RAF Coningsby.

All three services provided helicopter displays. The Army Air Corps with a Lynx and Apache helicopter of the Blue Eagles Display Team; The RAF with a Chinook from RAF Odiham and the Fleet Air Arm with a Lynx from RNAS Yeovilton.

This year the Royal Navy celebrates 100 years of Navy flying and four Hawk T1 aircraft from the Fleet Requirement & Air Direction Unit (FRADU), RNAS Culdrose, displayed in formation with two Falcon 20 aircraft of Cobham Air Services based at Bournemouth Airport. Part of the display was the “launch” of the four Hawks acting as missiles by the Falcon 20s against an imaginary ship target.

A number of historic aircraft were on view on the ground and in the air. The world’s largest bi-plane, the Antonov AN-2, gave an impressive display of low speed handling with a stalling speed of 56 mph. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight thrilled the crowds as always with the beautiful sounds of Rolls Royce Merlin engines along with a civilian operated two seat Spitfire T.9.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend was the shock news that Vulcan XH558 would not fly because its Permit to Fly had expired, due to no fault of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, but due to a technical glitch with the Civilian Aviation Authority.

The author wishes to thank Flt Lt Kate Calder (Media & Communications Officer), Wing Commander Si Prior and Group Captain D H John MA LLB BA RAF for their kind hospitality during the author’s visit.

Alpha Jet E - Patrouille de France - French Air Force
 
Supermarine Spitfire TR Mk IX - G-BMSB - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom   Nimrod MR2 (withdrawn) - XV260/60 - 120 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
KC-135R Stratotanker - 63-8879 - 351 Air Refueling Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   Putzer Elster B - G-APVF/97+04 - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   De Havilland DHC.1 Chipmunk - G-BYHL/WG308/8 - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom  
 
Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
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