RAF Waddington International Air Show 2006 Review
Saturday 1st July - Sunday 2nd July
The first weekend in July saw the 12th International Air Show take place at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. With anniversaries a plenty and blessed with fine weather, the resident Waddington squadrons were out in force demonstrating the present and future roles for the station. Due to other airshows taking place in Europe the same weekend, overseas participation was down on previous years but there were still enough star items for a good show.
reports from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. Additional photography by .
UK based static highlights included an E-3D Sentry from 8/23 Squadron, a 'new' Nimrod MR.2 trainer for 51 Squadron and the first public outing for the Sentinel R.1 ASTOR aircraft destined for the Waddington based 5(AC) Squadron. Hopefully the 5 strong Sentinel fleet will also carry dual 54(R) Squadron markings as the ex-Coltishall Jaguar unit is due to become the ASTOR training squadron in time. 31 Squadron 'Goldstars' at Marham sent their gorgeous 90th Anniversary marked Tornado GR.4 whilst 800 NAS with their 'new' Harrier GR.7 made a welcome public appearance.
Topping off the 90th anniversary schemes were 45(R) and 55(R) Squadrons from nearby RAF Cranwell whose Beechcraft King Air B200 and Dominie aircraft stood proudly in their specially applied colours. USAFE support was very welcome in the shape of a pair of 492FS/48 FW F-15E's plus a KC-135R Stratotanker from the 100 ARW at RAF Mildenhall. Two Typhoons from 3(F) & 17(R) squadrons accompanied a 6 Squadron Jaguar in performing the short hop over from RAF Coningsby. Suprisingly there was no Tornado F.3 present this year!
With the airshow being billed as the first official public event to mark the retirement of the Canberra and the disbandment of 39 (1PRU) Squadron, it was sad but pleasing to see the old girl being given a good send-off with no fewer than four examples being present at Waddington over the weekend. Taking pride of place alongside the PR.9 aircraft on static was the privately owned, all black Canberra B.2/6(mod) from Air Atlantique wearing 617 Squadron markings. It was such a delight to see this expertly preserved aircraft (WK163) which actually captured the World Altitude Record, 70,310ft, on 28 August 1957.
Foreign static display participation was limited to an RF-4E Phantom from the Hellenic Air Force, a pair of French Air Force Alphajets, a pair of of RNAF F-16's from 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden plus a Saab 105ÖE from Tigerstaffel Horsching, Austrian Air Force. 30 Naval Air Squadron of The Polish Navy added a Antonov An-28B1R Bryza, whilst there was a substantial Royal Navy and RAF rotary presence in the form of Sea King, Merlin, Puma, Chinook and Griffin helicopters. A personal favourite was the Huey gunship - this example being only flying UH-1H in the UK. The crew were really friendly and open, it was a pleasure to see this rare beast from the Vietnam-era up close at an airshow.
The flying display was opened in traditional fashion by a flypast by one of the resident E-3D Sentry AEW Mk.1 aircraft and contained all the RAF regulars plus a stunning routine by the 39(1 PRU) Squadron Canberra PR.9 from Marham which concluded its routine with a zoom climb to rival any F-16! Although lacking in NATO fighter attendance, the flying programme still contained a few gems such as a Boeing 757 from 40 Squadron and a P-3k Orion from 5 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force. Both these rare aircraft called in at Waddington on their way back from a Maritime Exercise at RAF Kinloss in Scotland, and each put on a stunningly agile display. Another unique and very welcome visitor was the Saab 105ÖE from Austria. Wearing dashing tiger markings on the tail, the twin-engine trainer gave a crisp display in the Lincolnshire skies.
It was fitting to see the 70th Anniversary of the Spitfire commemorated as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight from Coningsby performed a heart warming flypast with the Lancaster and a pair of Spitfires. A classic Spitfire solo display was also flown by the ex-leader of the BBMF, Paul Day in the privately owned TR.IX trainer variant before forming up with the BBMF fighter contingent for a flypast in a wartime 'vic' formation.
With the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, closing their 'home' show with their trademark precision flying, the public left to return home in time to see England football team knocked out of the World Cup on penalties!
In all, Waddington's 2006 display was good value for the family but frustrating for the enthusiast as photography of the static display was so difficult due to the close proximity of the barriers and funfair to the parked aircraft. A small gripe for an otherwise solid show with fantastic weather.