RAF Cosford Air Show 2007 Review
Sunday 10th June
Cosford's annual airshow has been a fixture on the calendar for as long as anyone can remember. In recent years it has been criticised by enthusiasts for catering too much for the "family" market, with few displays or aircraft unique to the show. Certainly in terms of line-up the 2007 show on June 10th was a near mirror image of the event a year before, but record crowds of over 53,000 seemed to show that the organisers, in terms of attracting casual punters at least, had got it right.
reports for UKAR. Additional photography from .
Grey, gloomy, leaden skies greeted the early risers at Cosford. Pretty much the norm for airshows in this 2007 season. The cloud was to lift right at the end of the flying display, but the murky weather did nothing to spoil the day's enjoyment for what turned out to be record crowds at Cosford, no doubt many as keen to get a glimpse of the RAF Museum's new Cold War Exhibition as they were to see the flying display.
Cosford's short runway means that static aircraft are generally limited to helicopters, light training types and warbirds. A nice bonus was the wheeling out of some of the recently retired 6 Squadron Jaguar GR.3s, though many more were stored tantalisingly out of reach behind locked gates. Hangar displays showed off the RAF's skills with such sights as engines being winched from Jaguars - the result: plenty of open-mouthed youngsters, several of whom may well want to consider a career in the Service. Proof in the wake of the Spirit of Adventure debacle that the RAF doesn't need gimmicks or amateurish videos of fighting aliens to lure in the next generation of recruits. Kids love aircraft, it has always been this way, and I dare say always will.
Despite being kicked-off by the RAF Hawk solo display - giving for my money it's most impressive display of the season to date, the flying display was rather warbird-heavy. Peter Teichman had two aircraft present, his gorgeous P-51D Mustang "Jumping Jaques" and the P-40 Kittyhawk, which for many gave a show-stealing display in clear blue skies at the end of the display.
Rotary types featured the always impressive Chinook; both the Royal Navy and Army display teams, the Black Cats and Blue Eagles. The Black Cats are always very watchable, though for those of us who attend shows week-in, week-out their routine can now appear a little "samey". Still highly impressive though and a great showcase of the Lynx helicopter. The Blue Eagles are in their last season as a team, and aside from the stunning rolls and loops of their Lynx, this year's display is rather tame. One observer at Cosford noted that the four Gazelles are just "dressing for the Lynx". Maybe an Army Lynx solo is the way to go next season? With an Apache solo too?
Further warbird representation came in the shape of the Hispano HA-1112 Buchon, which commentators continually refer to incorrectly as a Messerschmitt Bf-109. Yes, she's painted as a German machine, but the hum of the Merlin in the front rather gives the game away! Still a fine aircraft and it's great to have an example of the 109 family back on the display circuit.
Among others, aerobatics came from Denny Dobson in his Extra 300, and a terrific display from Anna Walker in the Bucker Jungmann, most of which appeared to be flown inverted!
From the Royal Navy Historic Flight we got the Hawker Sea Fury, arriving with John Beattie in his Douglas Skyraider. Sea Fury VR930 looks especially smart in her new scheme this year, and the display certainly shows off the type's clean lines as the ultimate realisation of the piston-engined fighter. The Skyraider is always a joy to see, big, belching smoke and noise. Beattie flies the aircraft especially well for the photographer, with several long topside passes, which are always well received.
Completing the lineup of warbirds, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight sent Spitfire Vb AB910, Hurricane IIc PZ865 and Douglas Dakota ZA947, the latter of which doubled up as the "drop ship" for the RAF Falcons parachute team.
Elementary and Basic Training types were represented by the RAF's Tutor and Tucano solo demonstrations, the latter looking very slick in a special display livery.
The Red Arrows are always the stars of the show, though through no fault of their own the Cosford crowds only got half a show from the RAF's aerobatic team this year. Twice microlights encroached into the restricted zone around their display, leaving Red 1 Wing Commander Jas Hawker with no option but to call off the display. These incursions are becoming more and more common it seems in recent seasons, as one wag at Cosford noted, would it be worth equipping the Hawks with Sidewinders?
With the retirement of the Jaguar, and the sheer workload of the Harrier and Tornado variants, modern front-line solo participation from the RAF is limited to the Eurofighter Typhoon. In moist air, Flight Lieutenant Jim Walls put the beast through its flat display (which for my money, is more enjoyable to watch than the full one), with vapour forming on the machine at every twist and turn. Love or hate the Typhoon and the politics behind it, it can't be denied that it is a stunning airshow performer.
Cosford was one of the select venues to benefit from the RAF Role Demonstration. At this show the public appeared to enjoy what was put before them, with plenty of bangs and flashes. A nice touch is the final salute where all the participating aircraft fly along the crowdline at varying heights to applause and the strains of Holst's "Jupiter". Chuck in a few Union Jacks and it could be Last Night of the Proms!
Record crowds meant a wait to get off the airfield at the end of the show, especially for those of us parked at the active end of the runway as the public had to wait for the airfield to close to aircraft before we could be let out. Everyone was patient; there wasn't too much blasting of horns and once off the base traffic moved freely, despite the vast crowd.
While Cosford will never be a show for the "purist" like RIAT, Flying Legends or Kemble, it is very good at what it does, namely attracting people who are neither regular airshow attendees nor aviation enthusiasts per se, and for that the organisers are to be commended. After all, 53,000 really can't be wrong!