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Flying With A Difference

The Other Serivices
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Pot Pourri
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Aerobatic Interlude
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The Yeovilton Air Day returned to it's more traditional July slot after a few years of bring held in September. It was clear that this move certainly helped to increase interest from the foreign participants after a couple of years with very thin participation. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All Photography copyright of the Author.

Home Team
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And They're Away
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Belgian Truffles
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Irish and German Mix
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Cobhams Flying Circus
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Lest We Forget
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The French Follies

The best overseas contribution came from the French Navy with a large selection of types from the frontline. Show stars were the pair of Super Etendard and Rafale M. It was the first time at a British show the two had be seen toegther. Also appearing were a Super Frelon, Lynx HAS2 and an Alouette III.

The Air Day at Yeovilton is always a military airshow with a difference. Unlike many other similarly sized military shows, Yeovilton is always that bit more relaxed and always has a highly varied flying display and static park. The show this year was blessed with almost perfect weather - not too hot, with a decent cloudscape to highlight the displays. The theme of this year's show was "Flying with a Difference" highlighting the different skills and abilities of Naval Air Power and what's expected from the pilots who undertake this hazardous role.

Naturally the flying and static displays had a strong naval element with pretty well all the current Royal Navy types on display. Of particular interest this year was the first appearance at the event of the navy's new Harrier GR7A aircraft which have replaced the recently retired Sea Harrier. While one example was in the static show, two took part in the commando assualt finale. All the current helicopters operated by the Royal Navy featured strongly too in the flying and on the ground. During the lunch break a Royal Navy Lynx HAS3 took on a selection of racing cars and bikes in sort of drag races down the Runway adding a little variety to the Royal Navy's participation. The Navy always retains strong links with it's history and the fleet air arm is no different. The Royal Navy Historic Flight was out on force for Yeovilton. On the ground the Fairey Swordfish was joined by one of the recently retired Sea Harriers as part os a special heritage area while in the air both the Sea Fury and Sea Hawk took the honours of representing the golden years of Naval Aviation. Joining the Royal Navy were the Frnech and German Navies in showing the diverse nature of Naval Aviation. The French do deserve special mention for the size and quality of their contigent detailed above. The German Navy Altanique probably was making one of it's last appearances before retirement and replacement by P-3 Orions in the maritime surveillance role.

Yeovilton's Belgian Hot Ship

Yeovilton once again welcomed the Belgian Air Force F-16AM Solo display after a years absence. Even now this classic design still puts on a display to rival the latest hardware. Flown by Michaël "Mickey" Artiges, the team expect to fly at in the region of 15 different air displays in 2006

The Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps also meant good contributions to the show. The AAC sent a rare static appearance (in 2006 at least) of one of their WAH-64D Apache AH1. The Blue Eagles were also on hand to provide the aerial side of their participation. Meanwhile the Royal Air Force had a somewhat interesting day. Two RAF heavies dominated the static park in the form of the Nimrod MR2 and a the late arriving VC-10 from Brize Norton. In the flying, transport was represented by the C-130J Hercules which made rather a heavy landing which forced a precautionary end to his display. Even more dramatic was the Tornado GR4 which completed a successful display in the morning. However, on return to Yeovilton afternoon the aircraft suffered a dramatic engine surge while parked up resulted in a flash fire that was quickly dealt with by the crew and Yeovilton's own emergency services. Helicopters are a big part of the Yeovilton show and both the RAF solos, Merlin and Chinook were on display. However, it was the Typhoon F2 that was the star performer in the hands of Sqn Ldr Matt Elliot. It was the first visit by the fighter to Yeovilton. Of course, no show is the same without the Red Arrows which  once again wowed the crowds.

Views on the Commando Assault


Joining the Royal Air Force were the Irish Air Corps and ther Belgian Armed Forces. The Irish contributed a pair of helicopters, new and old, for the static park. The Old being a Alouette III while the new was the latest Eurocopter EC135 which has only just entered service.

The Belgians also had quite a contigent. Perhaps one of the smallest aircraft in the static was the little Belgian SF260 Warrior basic trainer in it's attractive yellow training scheme. In the air, there were two displays. Continuing the training theme was the Fouga Magister, now in it's final year. Bringing much more noise to proceedings was the F-16AM making it's first UK appearance of the year.

Notable historic participation came from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Rolls Royce Spitifre PR19 and the ex Delta Jet Gnat T1. However, perhap star of the classic jets was the Hunter GA11 in the hands of Brain Grant, returning home to it's former base. There were also a select few civilian performers ranging from the little Pitts Special to the fourship Yakovlevs. Making his UK airshow debut in his new Extra EA300 was display pilot Justyn Gorman. Now flying with Road Angel Aerobatics, Justyn continues to display his own RV-4 and now a new Extra in punchy display of unlimited aerobatics.

As tradition dictates, the display ended with the Commando Assault, a unique event on the airshow circuit. Though smaller than previous years thanks to the number of deployments currently on going the event still captures the imagination. The only RAF participant this year was the RAF Merlin HC3 proving the different forces work side by side and making an interesting comparison with the Navy's Merlin HM1.

This year's Air Day was a great success, thanks to a combination of weather, great organisation and some really good participation and fine aerial displays. Next year's show will be on the 7th July - see you there/

Thanks to Ralph Patel of AHA Events Ltd for the hospitality and making this report possible

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