Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset will open its gates on Saturday 2nd July 2016 for the Royal Navy’s premier airshow. One of the Southwest’s largest one day events, AIR DAY will offer an action-packed day out for all the family with thrilling flying displays and plenty to see and do on the ground. Whether you’re a wide-eyed first timer or a seasoned airshow veteran, be prepared for an amazing experience!
Photography by Paul Johnson/Flightline UK or as credited.
The award-winning airshow attracts 40,000 visitors, significant UK and Foreign military participation plus support from the world’s leading aerospace companies. Five hours of spectacular flying displays will include fast jets, historic warbirds, helicopters, formation display teams, aerobatics and will culminate with the world renowned Commando Assault Finale featuring troops, aircraft and pyrotechnics galore! Among the family favourites, the Black Cats, Red Arrows, Typhoon, Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane will be there along with newcomers the MiG-15 and Bronco. Overseas participation will hopefully include rare flying displays from allied nations as well as aircraft on static display where they will be available to view at close quarters.
Leading the flying display will be rare historic naval aircraft and their modern day counterparts in spectacular role demonstrations to acknowledge the contribution made by Naval Aviation – Past, Present and Future, Protecting Our Nation’s Interests.
Throughout the day, families will have the chance to enjoy plenty of ground entertainment including discounted entry to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, interactive military displays, an engineering fair, performances from The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, classic and military vehicle exhibitions, funfair, simulators, helicopter pleasure flights, trade stalls and much, much more!
Naval Aviation Past…
Air Day 2016’s main theme is ‘Naval Aviation – Past, Present & Future’. Based here at RNAS Yeovilton, the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber will be among the most significant past Navy types present. Launched from HMS Ark Royal’s deck in May 1941, 820 Naval Air Squadron’s Swordfish chased and struck the German Navy’s Bismarck-class battleship, ultimately helping to sink it. 75 years on, the flight’s Swordfish 1 W5856, in an original 820 NAS scheme, will help recall this landmark engagement. From the same timeframe comes one of only two European examples flying of the Spitfire’s naval version. This particular Seafire is a recently restored LFIIIc model wearing British Pacific Fleet markings making its Air Day flying display debut.
The spearing F-4K Phantom FG1 fleet air defence fighter and its successor, the legendary Sea Harrier FA2 VSTOL (Vertical Short Take-Off and Landing) strike fighter, were among the most era-defining post-war Royal Navy combat aircraft. RNAS Yeovilton is home to preserved examples of both. As in previous years, they will represent the base’s thunderous past in Air Day’s static display.
Helicopters have been and continue to be an integral part of the Fleet Air Arm. The Wasp anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare helicopter’s service career spanned three decades and an example in a Falklands Conflict-scheme will be on static display. The Gazelle helicopter, both training and attack variants, was similarly long-serving. Thanks to the Gazelle Squadron, four are coming to Air Day: two each for the flying and static displays. One of the fliers wears an authentic 705 NAS scheme, representing a Gazelle flown by that squadron’s Sharks display team.
…Present & Future
The present day Fleet Air Arm is in transition as it moves on from ‘legacy’ types to upgraded versions and brand new designs. Locally, 815 NAS operates the last in-service Lynx HMA8s. Ahead of their March 2017 retirement, Air Day’s ‘Lynx Farewell’ will provide one of the public’s last opportunities to see these very successful small ships helicopters in action. Lynx Farewell’s components include an exciting two-ship maritime role demonstration and multiple examples in the static display. The Wildcat HM2 multi-mission maritime helicopter is the Lynx HMA8’s replacement and, equipping 825 NAS, is becoming increasingly well-established here. RNAS Yeovilton’s very popular Royal Navy Black Cats display team is in its second season of flying Wildcats: its fast-paced and superbly synchronised routine will again be a flying display highlight.
The Wildcat is inherently part of ‘Tomorrow’s Fleet Arm’. Several other types set to take the FAA well into the future will also be on show including the Avenger T1 observer trainer, Hawk T1 ‘Maritime Aggressor’ and a pair of Merlin HM2 submarine-hunting helicopters, all from RNAS Culdrose. Also from Culdrose comes one of 849 NAS ‘Eyes In the Sky’ – the Sea King ASaC7. Now the final Sea King variant still operational, this is a surveillance-tasked model set to serve on until 2018. As ever, Air Day’s explosive Commando Assault flying display finale will highlight the canvas of capabilities that today’s Fleet Air Arm possesses, with the Commando Helicopter Force’s Merlin HC3s taking centre stage.
The scope of naval aviation showcased at Air Day is not just confined to the Royal Navy – rather, the show brings together naval aircraft and aviators from much further afield. The international line-up will include the Royal Netherlands Navy NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) maqking its first appearance at Air Day in the static display. Discussions with other naval air arms are ongoing and we hope to announce several notable debuts in the coming weeks.
Further international involvement includes Textron AirLand’s hotly-tipped Scorpion low-cost tactical aircraft – on its third UK visit – and a Belgian Air Component F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter. Both will add fast jet flavour to the static display. Belgium is also sending its sole active Falcon 20E VIP transport aircraft to make a potentially last UK showing. Jordan’s national aerobatic team, the Royal Jordanian Falcons, will again demonstrate their outstanding blend of precision formation flying and world-class unlimited-level solo aerobatics. 2016 is a special year for the Falcons as they celebrate their 40th anniversary. Participation from other foreign air arms is in prospect and details of additional international content will be publicised once it’s been confirmed.
UK Military Participants
Currently known RAF participation is strong and comprises three real Air Day favourites – the Red Arrows, Typhoon and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF). Probably the best-known of all military display teams, the Red Arrows have performed in public some 4,500 times since 1965. Their 2016 sequence is sure to be, as ever, the epitome of excellence. The Typhoon FGR4 sits on contemporary air power’s sharpest edge and will give another awesome show of agility and power, while the BBMF will present its classic Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane formation. Back in the air after missing out last season’s airshows, the Lancaster is one of only two flying in the world while the immortal Spitfire appears in its 80th anniversary year. The Army Air Corps’ Attack Helicopter Display Team is another of our UK military participants. Its solo Apache AH1 demonstration will convincingly underline this combat-proven battlefield helicopter’s manoeuvrability, speed and sheer presence.
Cold War Classics
Two quite contrasting Cold War aircraft will both make Air Day debuts. One is the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s MiG-15. With its classic lines and dashing performance, this Soviet-origin early jet fighter will be a highlight of the flying display. The MiG-15 became synonymous with the Korean War but it was another conflict, Vietnam, with which the OV-10 Bronco became most associated. Light attacker, counter-insurgency platform, target-tower – the Bronco was one highly versatile aircraft. The Belgian-based Bronco Demo Team upholds this noble legacy and will demonstrate the type’s nimble handling qualities over RNAS Yeovilton.
From Fanfares to Funfairs
The flying display might be Air Day’s centrepiece but there is a huge array of other attractions at Air Day. They include the Maritime Aviation Capability Exhibition, highlighting the very latest in future-shaping defence technology for the Royal Navy; the Service Display Hangar in which visitors can view equipment and hear about the fascinating roles of Station personnel and their departments and the STEM Fair, designed to inspire the next generation of engineers with interactive activities courtesy of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Imagineering Foundation. There will be a whole host of trade stands selling everything from military paraphernalia to local produce. Arena performances will include The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and the hotly contested Field Gun Competition. For the thrill seekers – simulators, fairground rides and helicopter pleasure flights cannot fail to excite.
Air Day Tickets
A standard entrance ticket on the day is priced at £27 for Adults and £14 for Children U16 (children under 5 are free of charge). Savings are available with advance tickets which are priced at £21 and £7 respectively. There are also special packages covering entrance to the Grandstand, Flightline Enclosure or Swordfish Enclosure. Details of these, along with the latest aircraft participation information, can be found at www.royalnavy.mod.uk/yeovilton-airday or by calling the Ticketline on 0330 100 3656.