RAF Cosford Air Show Report

Sunday 13th June 2010

The first RAF airshow of the year, Cosford is the largest air display in the Midlands and the season opener for many an aviation enthusiast. This year's show line-up was judged by many as the best for a number of years and included aircraft from the Belgian, Dutch and French Air Arms, although the star of last years display was to be missing this time around, with the Vulcan still not out of winter maintenance. Would the increased foreign partipation make up for XH558's absence?

Peter Reoch was at his local for UK Airshow Review. Photos by the author and Charles Cunliffe.

In previous years the organizers have been criticised by enthusiasts who said the show was too family orientated however, attendance figures showed that they had a successful formula. With the 'Vulcan Effect' last year providing a full capacity crowd, this year's show had a lot to live up to. But with organizers securing the return of the Belgian Sea King and the appearance of the iconic Dutch F-16 in the flying display, 2010's programme looked stronger than ever. The static aircraft displays at Cosford will never be as big as other shows due to the short runway and lack of suitable parking areas, yet the number of aircraft on display this year was higher than usual. The RAF this year contributed a Griffin HT2, Merlin HC3 and a Harrier GR9, with a Jetstream being the Royal Navy's only contribution. But the star for most UKAR members was the French Air Force's CASA CN235 transport aircraft.

Cosford is home to the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineers who of the guardians of the ex-6 Squadron Jaguars and other retired aircraft. Unfortunately this year most the aircraft were parked out of sight and the small number that were on display were inside the hangars. Next year it would be nice if they could be persuaded to drag some of the aircraft - Jaguar XX119 'Spotty' especially - outside on display.

Before the flying display the crowd are treated to some of the Large Model Aircraft that will feature at Cosford model show in July. A jet-powered model of the Avro Vulcan took the place of XH558 who is still undergoing winter maintenance. The Yakolevs opened, followed by the Falcons (dropping from a Cessna Caravan) and then the Typhoon. These first few items took full advantage of the blue skies and weather which sadly deteriorated throughout the day. The solo Lynx display is an unusual sight on the airshow scene, but with the Black Cats displaying elsewhere, a Fleet Air Arm crew provided a polished and very impressive display. The displays from RAF 22 Group followed with the Tutor, King Air, Tucano and Hawk, the latter two sporting this year's lovely colour schemes.

The light and weather had deteriorated as the stars of the show performed, with both the Red Arrows and the Dutch F-16 flown by Capt 'Hitec' performing flat routines. After their accident during training it was a welcome surprise to see the 'Reds' make their 2010 Debut at Cosford, as they only received their Public Display Authorisation in the week preceding the show: It is a credit to the skill of the pilots who have completed the training ahead of schedule and it was good to see Flt Lt Mike Ling back on his feet. The Belgian Sea King impressed the crowd with their SAR demonstration and the anniversary colour scheme and another crowd pleaser was the return of pyrotechnics at show. The Tornado GR4 demo brought back memories of the ill-fated RAF Role Demo from 2007 and 2008.

The classic jet displays took up the last of the decent weather, and as the Spitfire/Typhoon emerged into sight, the rain started. It was a shame as this display is only being repeated at a select few shows, but credit must be given to the pilots who flew a tight routine in less than ideal weather. As the Harrier GR9 started its display the heavens really opened and the crowd line emptied, but those UKAR members who braved the rain were rewarded with some stunning images of the Harrier landing on Cosford's runway, which was at that time doing a passable impression of a river!

Unfortunately the weather meant many of the remaining display were cancelled. The Royal Navy Historic Flight, Team Viper and Anna Walker were all unable to complete displays, though the Twister Duo, Aerostars and Breitling Wing Walkers braved the rain to give spirited displays to the crowd. The real disappointment of the show was the cancellation of the Battle of Britain finale. The organisers had put months of effort into this choreographed set piece which was due to feature a number of UK warbirds. I'm sure that the pilots and the airshow team were just as gutted as the crowds at the cancellation.

Overall 2010 one of the best Cosford shows for a number of years with attractive overseas participation and the return of the Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4 to the display circuit. The lack of XH558 due to her maintenance issues was an obvious disappointment, but the weather dealt the killer blow to the show.

There's plenty of positives for the organisers to take from this year and build on for the 2011 show, but let's just cross our fingers for better weather!