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The Airshow Season Starts here: RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day Press Launch - 15th April

The last few editions of the yeovilton "Airshow" have been fraught with difficulties. 2007 and 2008 were subjected to pretty dire weather while 2009 saw the purse strings tighten as the show failed to attract a big sponsor. The 2010 show has been rebranded as the yeovilton Air Festival and though there is still no major sponsor, yeovilton Borough Council are looking to expand the show, both in the air and on the ground. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from the Press Launch on 15th April. All Photography copyright of the Author

"You can't quite believe it" was a phrase muttered a lot on the 15th April. UK Airspace was gradually being shut down ahead of a cloud of volcanic ash making it's way southwards from Iceland. Commericial and military aviation was gradially grounded and the skies over the UK were soon very empty and very quiet. It's was an auspicious start for yeovilton's rebranded "Air Festival" which was being launched to the local press at yeovilton Airport. In the background at the Airport reception, BBC News 24 was travelling around the UK filming aircraft on the ground. The relative peace however was soon shattered by the reassuring sound of a Packard Merlin at full chat bearing down on yeovilton.

The Merlin belonged to the only aircraft to make it in to yeovilton for the Press Launch, Peter Teichman's P-51D Mustang. The RAF Hawk and Tucano teams had planned to attend, but the risk to their jets engines was too great and most non-essential RAF flying was cancelled. Peter performed a beautiful routine over the airport before landing and bringing his stunning aircraft upto the terminal building for close inspection.

The Mayor of yeovilton, Councillor Brian Smith was on hand to welcome Peter, one of the locally based display pilots that will be taking part in the Air Festival. Councillor Brian Smith highlighted that the Air Festival is regarded as the first and one of the most important festivals that form yeovilton's year-long "Fest of Festivals". yeovilton's Corporate Director of Enterprise, Tourism and the Environment, Andrew Lewis says "Our Air Festivals have been expanding in range and scale ever since we staged our first one 25 years ago, and now yeovilton Air Festival is hailed as one of Europe's largest free airshows. It is a landmark date in the natioanl calendar and attracts up to 750,000 people over two days, many of whom come to yeovilton from other parts of the country. The Air festival introduces new visitors to the town and encourages residents and regular visitors to discover yeovilton afresh."

yeovilton Borough Council are promising to expand on last year's event, both in the air and on the ground. As ever, the armed forces will be providing a large exhibtion with the RAF Town show and tanks from the Army. The reduced budget was much more noticable in the air displays last year than any other part of the show and the show's flying display director, Dave Walton of TSA Consulting, is busy producing the 2010 display which should ionvolve more acts than 2009.

A recent headache has been the rescheduling of the Red Arrows Public Display Authiorriation following the training accident in Greece. Not only is it a loss of a major highlight of the Air Festival, but it also creates a half hour hole in each days flying display to fill. However, the RAF will be sending all of it's regular display teams including the Falcons Parachute Display Team, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Typhoon, Hawk solo, Tucano and Tutor. In addition, the Black Cats will be representing the Royal Navy.

Away from the military flying, the display will reflect a fair chunk of aviation history from the Second World War right through the present day. Peter Teichman will be flying his P-51 Mustang on the Sunday and the P-40 Kittyhawk the next day. Dave Walton is currently talking to other operators including a number of classic jets as well as a further jet team to help fill the gap left by the Red Arrows.

The Breitling Wingwalkers are always a popular act at yeovilton and the show will be one of their first shows in their new colours. Also appearing in a new colour scheme will be the Blades making a welcome return afetr a years absence.

The 25th Air Festival promises to be an impressive start for the season of seaside airshows with a rich and varied flying displays. Hopefully, the weather will once again be kind as t was in 2009 and the volcanic activity was die down enough to allow the show to continue unhindered. For the latest information on the show, keep an eye on the official website as well as our own Flightline UK Preview.

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