Follow Us:

2010 UK Airshows : REVIEW

RAF Halton 'At Home Day' 2010

Programme CoverThe honour of the first public RAF airshow of the year this year went to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire rather than one of the traditional big three! While the event is a relatively small and low key event, it is one of the most enjoyable thanks to it relaxed atmosphere in idyllic surroundings. Another major difference over other airfield based events is that it is entirely free.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

Halton has been used by the military since 1913 when No 3 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps deployed to the grounds of Halton House to support operations of the Household Division. At the time the Halton estate belonged to Alfred Rothschild. Just a year later, Europe was at war and Alfred Rothschild was one of the first landowners to volunteer his estate for training. By 1916, the Royal Flying Corps had moved into a semi-established camp at Halton having outgrown Farnborough. Alfred died in 1918, and his less affluent heirs eventually sold Halton to the newly formed Royal Air Force which moved it's No 1 School of Technical Training in from RAF Cranwell in 1919.

Halton's role has always been associated with RAF Training. Today, it is home to a number of different training units accommodating 21,000 students each year. It's grass airfield is still active and enjoyed by the based 613 Volunteer Gliding School, the Royal Air Force Gliding and Soaring association including the Joint Service Gliding Centre as well as the RAF Halton Aeroplane Club, Microlight Club and Hot Air Balloon Club.

Halton House still houses the RAF, but has recently appeared in a number of different television and film productions. Halton is also home to the Recruit Training Squadron, the Catering Training School, the Defence Media Operations Centre as well as training units for the RAF Regiment and an RAF Police Dog unit.

The aim of the station's 'At Home Day' was to open Halton's doors to the local community giving them an insight in to the station's role. Unlike some "Families Days" held at other RAF stations, the event was open to all. The 'At Home Day' was run alongside the De Havilland Moth Club's own event, the Charity Flying Weekend which raises money selling flights in a number of classic de Havilland types such as Tiger Moths, Dragon Rapides and so on. Halton is perhaps one of the most beautiful stations in the RAF. Visitors were guided into the station through lush landscaped land and parked up on the sports field which are surrounded by well managed woodlands. The airfield too is something of an aviation haven retaining its original hangers and grass runways.

On the ground there were a whole host of RAF displays from Halton's own units as well as those from other bases. There were also displays from the RAFGSA and other RAF-affiliated sports clubs as well as other popular ground attractions. Unlike other airshows, the showground was a particularly relaxed and friendly place to be on a mid-summer afternoon. The De Havilland event brought in all manner of interesting visitors including a stunning, but very orange original DH60 Moth alongside a whole fleet of Tiger Moths and Chipmunks. There was also some RAF support in the form of a Squirrel HT1 and Griffin HT1 from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury.

The short two hour flying display was kicked off by none other than a Tiger Moth flown in a lively aerobatic sequence by Dennis Penrose. The display was actually Dennis' last ever public display but he did end in style!

Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon was the Queen's Birthday Flypast fresh from The Mall! In the 70th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, the theme of the flypast of homeland defence. Heading the flypast over Halton were examples of RAF air defence aircraft old and new with two Tornado F3s joined by two Typhoon FGR4s. The next element was a pair of VC-10s from RAF Brize Norton is close formation trailing their refuelling hoses ahead of the RAF's other tanker, the Tristar accompanied by the first set of Tornado GR4s in the flypast. Other elements included a Sentinel R1 in formation with a pair os 32 Squadron BAE Systems 125s, a rare appearance of a Nimrod R1 with a further pair of Tornado GR4s before a final section of three Tornado GR4 jets. Closing the flypast were the nine BAE Systems Hawk T1s of the Red Arrows making their first public appearance of 2010 flowing the delayed start to their display season following a training accident.

As well as the flying, there were further RAF displays. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight provided a series of flypasts by their Spitfire IX and Hurricane IIc on their way from London to RAF Brize Norton families day. Also dropping in were the Falcons Parachute Display Team who are now using civilian aircraft as their jump platform, in Halton's case a Cessna Caravan. The show was also graced by a pair of the RAF's solo displays, the Tucano T1 and the King Air. The latter was making it's first public appearances of the 2010 display season with a new display routine which highlights the roll rate and spritely performance of this mini airliner.

Keeping with the RAF link, The Blades made a brief appearance inbetween displays in their new Royal Air Forces Association colours. The team are supporting the RAFA Wings Appeal during 2010 with RAFA logos and RAF roundels prominently displayed on their aircraft.

Continuing the aerobatic theme was Pete Burgess in his brand new aerobatic charge, the One Design DR107 which has replaced his Pitts Special. The DR107 is a far more capable machine than the Pitts and has taken Pete to three gold medals at aerobatic competitions this year alone!

The rest of the flying display had a much more vintage and de Havilland theme running through it. Perhaps the most stunning visitor was Roger Mills' Miles Hawk Speed IV racing aircraft with its beautiful lines and sparkling performance. No less beautiful, though slightly slower was the pair of De Havilland Dragon and De Havilland Dragon Rapide representing the style of 1930's air travel. Captain Neville's Flying Circus did their bit for a world cup theme with some aerial penalty kicks into a set of goalpost as part of their barnstorming display in a diverse range of aircraft including Chipminks, De Havilland Queen Bee and a Thruxton Jackaroo.

The flying displays were rounded off by Matthew Boddington in his Fokker Triplane replica and the Tiger Nine Formation Team. The latter provide a nostalgic sight for those who've been going to airshows for many years as a reminder if the great "Diamond Nine" display team that was such a popular and fun act at major airshows. The RAF Halton 'At Home Day' may be overshadowed in the airshow world by its bigger cousins at Cosford, Waddington and Leuchars, but it's a great little event that does without the hassle of those bigger events and does a great job showing the RAF at its best.

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


Bookmark and Share