This weekend sees RAF Waddington International Airshow welcome aircraft from home and abroad for its annual air display extravaganza. Gareth Stringer takes a look at what’s expected.
Last year’s RAF Waddington International Airshow raised the bar to a level which was always going to be tough to match in 2013, but I think it’s fair to say that from a flying perspective at least, the airshow team has had a damn good go.
The inclusion of the Swedish Historic Flight’s JA37 Viggen, JA29 Tunnan and SK60 in the flying display are sure to be huge highlights and there is little doubt that their participation is greatly anticipated. Huge credit to Waddington for going for it and booking all three aircraft.
We are very much looking forward to seeing them, especially the stunning and impressive Viggen, and we hope to bring you more on the team after the event.
Military fast jet fans, especially those with a penchant for the F-16, are in for a treat at Waddington with a total of three Vipers on show – namely from the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey. The ongoing support for UK airshows from the first two nations is greatly appreciated and shouldn’t be taken for granted, but it might just be the latter that many will be most looking forward to.
‘Solo Turk’ debuted in the UK at RIAT 2011 and has not returned since, so it will be interesting to see how the display has progressed in the past two years. It was very good first time round, so hopes are high for a stellar performance at Waddington, and the opportunity to compare its routine with that from our ever-reliable Dutch and Belgian friends should prove interesting.
More military noise in the flying programme comes from the Czech Air Force which is bringing its JAS39 Gripen and L159 Alca solo displays. The former is always a lively performer while the latter put on an excellent show in 2010, so it’s great to welcome them both back to Lincolnshire from their home at Caslav Air Base.
Finally in this category, and probably noisiest of all, will be Flt Lt Jamie Norris in the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon. Jamie really has nailed his display routine this year, and has been receiving plaudits wherever he goes, so if you have yet to see it then you really need to make sure you don’t miss him this weekend.
As one of the just three Royal Air Force airshows, the home service will be bringing all of its performers to the Waddington party – namely the aforementioned Typhoon, Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Falcons, Chinook, Sea King search and rescue demo and Tucano.
That’s not all, for a 617 Squadron Tornado GR4 will be appearing with the BBMF Lancaster for a very special commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, which promises to be another real stand-out moment, while Waddington itself will be showing us a glimpse of its based E-3D Sentry and Sentinel R1, with their traditional flypasts to open the show.
There’s more flying from the UK’s other armed forces too, with both the Army Air Corps’ Lynx and Apache displays while the Royal Navy will be bringing both a solo Lynx and Merlin.
The military contingent is completed with the Armée de l’Air’s Patrouille de France (Saturday only), in their 60th anniversary year, and UK airshow stalwarts the Royal Jordanian Falcons.
Wrapping up the flying display are a number of civilian performers, headed by Avro Vulcan XH558, always a Waddington favourite, along with classic jets courtesy of the Gnat Display Team and Hawker Hunter G-FFOX, the latter on Sunday only. The Blades, Breitling Xtreme Extra and legendary display pilot Rod Dean in the Bulldog are the final items in what should be an excellent seven hours of flying each day.
Static display aircraft, especially those from the military, are proving hard to come by for many organisers at the moment, with time and resources both in short supply. But as long as you look at Waddington’s static line-up with that in mind, I think you’ll realise that there will still be plenty to look at, with one or two real gems in there too.
One of those will be the Turkish Air Force C160 Transall which will hopefully be the specially painted ‘Solo Turk’ support aircraft. The SAAB Group and Swedish Air Force are also showing great support for the show with SAAB 340 AEW&C, SAAB 340 and SAAB 2000 MPA all down to attend.
With Belgium, Algeria, Czech Republic, Poland and The Netherlands all sending aircraft, the static line-up will at least live up to the international nature of the event, and they will be alongside a host of aircraft from the UK’s armed forces, notable among which will be an airshow debut from a 41(R) Squadron Typhoon, probably the last chance to see a VC10 at Waddington Airshow and also a Royal Navy Wildcat.
Headlining the civilian static visitors will be QINETIQ with an A109S and RJ100 from the Empire Test Pilots School at MoD Boscombe Down and joining them will be a plethora of privately owned general aviation, classic jets and more historic types, including the stunning UH1 Huey and its OH6 Loach companion, and an L29 from the Red Star Rebels.
Naturally there will be a vast number of ground attractions and other entertainment areas to keep all the family happy and these include a funfair, craft stalls, classic cars and traders.
If you want to keep the day completely aviation-centric however, helicopter pleasure flights will be available from 9am until 6.30pm and you really should find time to head to the Main Exhibition Hangar to take a look at ‘RAF On Air’ which returns following two extremely successful years at the show.
Conceived by the RAF Waddington Airshow team, ‘RAF On Air’ is hosted by BBC Radio Lincolnshire in conjunction with the RAF Presentation Team and throughout the day they will be delivering a host of interactive interviews and presentations designed to give visitors to the airshow real insight in to what the RAF does and how it does it.
Using spectacular video footage and personal accounts of operations, expect to learn more about how the Royal Air Force delivers air power from current personnel, including the likes of the Red Arrows and many of the other RAF pilots taking part in the show. A number of personalities will also be dropping by, notably Dambusters raid veteran George “Johnny” Johnson, which should be absolutely fascinating. A more detailed schedule will be published closer to the time so please visit www.waddingtonairshow.co.uk for the latest news on that, and everything else related to the event.
Win tickets to the show!
If you haven’t already got a ticket for the weekend, thanks to the team at RAF Waddington International Airshow, we’ve got a pair of them up for grabs for Sunday.
Simply answer the question below, with ‘Waddington Tickets’ as the subject of your email, and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 is a special anniversary year for the Dambusters Raid, but how many years ago did it take place?
Closing time for entries is midnight tomorrow, Tuesday 2 July, so that tickets can be posted on Wednesday 3 July.
(Note – The prize is for a pair of tickets for Sunday only – no travel or hospitality is included and entries received after the deadline will not be included in the draw.)
Good luck and see you there, it should be an excellent show!