Gareth Stringer previews this Saturday’s RAF Leuchars Air Show – probably the last event of its kind at the famous Scottish base. Images as credited.
The last airshow at RAF Leuchars? At the time of going to press we just don’t know, although many assume that to be the case with work now well under-way at RAF Lossiemouth in preparation for the 2014 arrival of 1 Sqn and 6 Sqn with their Typhoons, a move which will signal the end of Leuchars’ long and distinguished life as a Royal Air Force flying station.
Regardless, the airshow team at RAF Leuchars has put together a stellar line-up for the 2013 show, one which will undoubtedly satisfy both the local populace, not entirely blessed with a vast amount of airshow activity, as well as the enthusiast community, a good number of whom will be travelling some distance to visit the event.
Saturday’s flying programme will naturally showcase the full range of Royal Air Force teams and solos, minus the Chinook which completed its hugely successful display season in Bournemouth last weekend. The show will however provide the third and final chance to see the evocative Dambusters 70th flypast of BBMF Avro Lancaster and 617 Sqn Tornado GR4.
Typhoon, resident at Leuchars of course, will take centre stage and visitors to the show should expect to see more than just Flt Lt Jamie Norris’ solo display, with a number of special flypasts planned, including for the Station’s traditional Sunset Ceremony. Already announced is a Typhoon four-ship and Red Arrows combo, the first time in five years that has occurred and a formation which will be making its Scottish début. Other types will also be flying together during the day – so keep those eyes peeled!
Eurofighter is also part of another very special display item, a true UK airshow first, with the Überwachungsgeschwader – the surveillance wing of the Austrian Air Force, which fulfils the Quick Reaction Alert role – demonstrating just how they do so, with Typhoon and C-130 Hercules. It was a role demo seen at Zeltweg recently and promises to be a spectacular inclusion, one for which Leuchars deserves a huge pat on the the back.
The Austrians are not the only foreign flying visitors either for we get another chance to see the Swedish Historic Flight’s awesome Saab Viggen, Saab 105 and Hawker Hunter – the latter being a late replacement for the Tunnan, which unfortunately is unserviceable. The Viggen in particular was a stunning highlight of the RAF Waddington International Air Show, and it will be excellent to see her back in the UK once again.
Sadly the Viggen will not be joined by the biggest delta of them all – the Vulcan – for the fuel leak which meant she was unable to display last Sunday will almost certainly keep her out of action this weekend. It is alas one of those things – and is her first downtime this year – but is a huge shame as it deprives RAF Leuchars of what might be a last appearance at what might be the last show. Only time will tell….
Other classic jets are taking part with the Gnat Display Team, Strikemaster, Jet Provost T5 and Hawker Hunter T7 all listed as flying, as are number of aerobatic favourites, such as The Rv8tors, The Blades, Breitling Wingwalkers and the Wildcats.
Historic fans won’t feel left out either with Rolls Royce’s Spitfire, RNHF Sea Fury, T28 Fennec and the Catalina all included, as is the rarer site of a Starduster Too and a venerable solo Pitts S1.
The display line up is completed by the Royal Navy which is bringing both a solo Black Cats Lynx and SAR Sea King.
Visitors should expect a reasonable selection of RAF aircraft in the static line up, including Voyager, VC10, Sentinel, Tornados and plenty of Typhoons, which will be alongside some interesting visitors from further afield; Dutch, Norwegian and Danish F-16s for example, with Marine Rafale and Italian Typhoon.
As you would expect, the show also features a huge range of ground based entertainments, displays and fun for the whole family, including the likes of Bloodhound SSC, RAF Leuchars Pipes and Drums, craft show and funfair.
Regardless of the future of RAF Leuchars, it’s hard to believe that the Air Force will want to simply cease reaping the benefits of engaging with the public in Scotland as they do so well with this annual event. Geographically, it surely won’t work at RAF Lossiemouth and if the event can continue at Leuchars, surely that would be the ideal scenario?
If this is to be the last airshow at Leuchars, the team there have lined-up a cracker – and we’re really looking forward to it.
For more information – visit the RAF Leuchars Air Show official website.