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2010 UK Airshows : REVIEW

RAF Cosford Airshow 2010

Programme CoverThe RAF Cosford Airshow is the Midlands' premier air event and the first of the big RAF airshows of the year. The airfield at Cosford is quite a bit smaller than Waddington or Leuchars, and retains the elegant looks of a traditioanl RAF airfield. Today, Cosford is home to the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering teaching the students how to maintain the RAF latest equipment. As with many events in 2010, the main theme of Cosford Airshow 2010 was the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain which would feature in a number of different displays.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author. Video highlights courtesy of Planes TV.

Cosford is a very popular airshow, even competing against the lure of World Cup football and a slightly 'iffy' weather forecast! Approximately 45,000 attended the 2010 Airshow, just a little down on 2009's record breaking show that enjoyed slightly better weather. Bad weather did arrive later in the afternoon, but in the end only four of the 27 different display items were forced to cancel in a varied and highly entertaining flying display that was punctuated by some welcome returns and firsts! Amongst the acts forced to cancel their displays was the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Hawk, Anna Walker in the Bucker Jungmann, Team Viper and most unfortunately of all, the finale involving Peter Vacher's Hurricane I, Peter Teichman's Hurricane IIb and recently restored Spitfire XVI TE184.

The Cosford Airshow is always a very varied affair. The short, narrow runway does not permit for many fast jet operations meaning that some of the display aircraft use nearby RAF Shawbury to operate from and there's no large static display of military jets. However, it does mean that Cosford's display line-up is particularly varied with a number of civilian display teams and warbirds that can operate from the confines of Cosford.

In the weeks leading up to the show, it was thought that the flying display would be without the Red Arrows due to their training accident in Crete. However, the team managed to get their Public Display Authorisation a week earlier than expected which meant the team were able to perform at the show, albeit in a rolling display due to the cloud-base. The teams display in 2010 features many novel new twists as well as a very patriotic nod to the Battle of Britain theme with the Spitfire Victory Roll. The inclusion of the Red Arrows did mean that the 2010 show was perhaps the biggest and longest flying display held at Cosford for some time!

The show had opened with the first of the civilian display teams, the Yakovlevs with their four beautiful silver aircraft. They were followed by the first of the RAF displays, the Falcons Parachute Display Team dropping from a civilian Cessna Caravan aircraft.

Following the Falcons was the first of the familiar RAF solo displays, the Typhoon FGR4 flown by Flt Lt Tim Clements of 29(R) Squadron. Cosford was the first time all the RAF solo appeared in the same show for 2010 with the Hawk T1, Tucano T1, King Air and Tutor T1 all displaying.

However, more significant was the appearance of two other fast jet displays from the Royal Air Force. Cosford witnessed the first full display (the intended first display at Perth was halved to just one aircraft due to the weather) of XV(R) Squadron's Tornado GR4 pair role demonstration. The display will be familiar to those who were lucky enough to witness to RAF Role Demonstration Team in action during the 2007 and 2008 display seasons. With just the Tornados, it's clearly a shorter routine, but it all action with the aircraft and pyrotechnics in front of the crowd all the time during the 12 minute display slot.

Another RAF fast jet making a welcome return to the dislpay circuit is the BAE Systems Harrier GR9 from No 4(R) Squadron and flown by Flt Lt Steve Kenworthy. The Harrier has not been a regular feature of air displays since the end of the 2006 display season and has been greatly missed. The display highlights some the unique handling characteristics of the Harrier, particularly the slow speed and hovering flight modes.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has got a very busy season ahead with plenty of events to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Sadly their Lancaster was unservicable, but the flight's Spitfire IX and Hurricane IIc made a welcome appearance with one of their first displays to arrive from crowd rear. After their standard displays, the Spitfire IX joined up with another RAF Typhoon FGR4 for a stunning synchronised displays despite the best efforts of the rain which had started to fall.

The only other UK armed service represented in the flying display was the Royal Navy will a rare Westland Lynx HMA8 solo display from 815 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton. 815NAS is the Navy's front line Lynx squadrons whereas the more familiar Black Cats displays are provided by 702NAS, also based at Yeovilton.

As well as the warbirds, there were a number of classic jets in the flying display represented a number of former RAF types. Jon Corley and John Beattie displayed Air Atlantique's apir of De Havilland Venoms while Neil McCarthy displayed his BAC Jet Provost T3A. Despite Team Viper being forced to cancel their display, early visitors did see one of their BAC Strikemasters make a brief appearance just before the start of flying. Perhaps the highlight of the classic jet contingent were the pair of F-86A Sabre and Hawker Hunter F58a flown by Mark Linney and Jonathon Whalley; the aircraft were shown off perfectly as a pair and then as solo displays.

Cosford Airshow 2010 also welcome a pair of international military flying displays as well as a static French Air Force CN235 transport. The Belgian Air Component sent their Westland Sea King Mk48 Search and Rescue Demonstration while the Royal Netherlands Air Force were represented by the F-16AM Fighting Falcon solo display both of which were highlights of the shows.

The military displays were interspersed with some of the best civilian display acts in the UK. The Great War Display Team put on a fine recreation of a first world war dogfight with their wonderful collection of replicas early in the flying display.

Top draw aerobatics were provided by The Blades and the new Twister Duo. The latter team were the first to get into the air following the downpour that interrupted the last few items on the flying display much to the appreciation of the crowds either watching from their cars or the slightly diminished crowdline. Following hot on the heels of the Twisters were the Breitling Wingwalkers who did a sterling job in the miserable light rain. It was left to the fantastic Aerostars to close the flying displays putting on a full and exciting show in the low cloud base. The sight and sound of six Yak-50s rumbling around at low level is awesome and partly made up for the cancelled Battle of Britain finale.

Despite the best efforts of the British summertime weather, Cosford enjoyed one if best airshows for years. The air displays were all top notch and the show was very well attended despite other distractions. Let's hope for some better weather next year!

What did you think of the show? Which displays did you enjoy? What didn't you enjoy? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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