The RAF Cosford Air Show took place on Sunday 9th June 2019, attracting 50,000 visitors. This year's theme celebrated the 'NATO 70th anniversary' as well as 65 years since the first flight of the Jet Provost.
The North American Treaty Organization (NATO) currently consists of 29 independent member countries with two in North America (Canada and USA), twenty six in Europe
and one in Eurasia (Turkey). NATO was founded on the 4th April 1949 and guarantees the freedom and security of its members through both political and military means. There were plenty of aircraft in the flying display as well as on the ground that represented the 70th anniversary of NATO at the RAF Cosford Air Show. These aircraft included the Slovak Air Force LET-410 Turbolet (static display), German Navy P-3C Orion, Czech Air Force Gripen, Royal Danish Air Force 'Baby Blue Display Team' as well as Army Air Corps, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aircraft.
The Jet Provost was also well represented at Cosford on the ground and also in the air display. The first flight of the Jet Provost was on the 26th June 1954, making this year its 65 year anniversary. On the ground arranged in chronological order was the initial Jet Provost T1 as well as later variants including the armed export version called the Strikemaster. The Jet Provost was derived from the Piston Provost which was displayed on the ground next to the Jet Provost T1. The air display featured a Jet Provost T3 in the colours of the RAF Red Pelicans display team, as well as a Jet Provost T5 and a Strikemaster.
There was plenty of entertainment on the ground at the RAF Cosford Air Show with the popular 'Vintage Village' focusing on World War II with the sights, sounds and smells of the era. The 'RAF Zone' had displays and exhibitions from all aspects of the Royal Air Force along with a opportunity to meet the pilots. There were two 'STEM Hangars' allowing you to get real hands-on experience with the latest science and technology and there were also 'RAF Hangar Displays' from the 'Defence School of Aeronautic Engineering' showing what training to become qualified RAF Technicians and Engineers looks like.
There were also trade stands & exhibitors, as well as helicopter flights and of course the RAF Museum which is part of the Royal Air Force Museum located at both RAF Cosford and the Royal Air Force Museum London (Hendon). This museum is dedicated to the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force in particular. It also includes a Cold War Museum as well as several developmental aircraft, and a missile collection.
Also on the ground was a good selection of aircraft which were well laid out including the Jet Provosts, desert pink paint schemes of the Tornado, Buccaneer & Jaguar, several variants of the Harrier, trainer aircraft, a mock-up of the Tempest and the resident Jaguars.
The six-hour air display started at about 12pm with the RAF Falcons
parachute display team who jumped out of a Dornier 228-200 aircraft. This was followed by three University Air Squadron (UAS) Tutor T1s taking off and a display by a solo Tutor T1
. The Grob Tutor is used by the Army Air Corps, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force for elementary flying training and this role is now being taken over by the Grob Prefect. A Prefect T1 could also be seen alongside a Tutor T1 in the static park at the show.
Following the Tutor display was another RAF trainer, the Tucano T1
. This Tucano provides basic fast jet training to Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots as this aircraft has jet-like handling and is powered by a single 1,150shp Honeywell TPE331-12B turboprop engine. The Tucano T1 is being replaced by the new Texan II aircraft which features a digital glass cockpit with modern avionics.
The RAF Typhoon FGR4
displayed next showing its agility and power. The Typhoon was originally designed as an air superiority fighter but can be equipped with air-to-surface weapons. With the retirement of the Tornado GR4 last March, later production Typhoons have been equipped with a greater variety of air-to-surface weapons such as the Storm Shadow cruise missile and the Brimstone missile. This year's Typhoon display pilot is Flight Lieutenant Jim Peterson of 29 Squadron based at RAF Coningsby.
After the noise of the Typhoon we had a display by a Rihn DR-107 One Design
aircraft. The DR-107 is designed to be low-cost home-built aircraft that can be constructed from plans and a materials kit. This aircraft can be used for competition and basic to advanced aerobatics including International Aerobatic Club Class One competitions and is stressed to +/- 10g.
displayed their red Boeing Stearman
next. This aircraft is based at Pent Farm, Postling, Hythe in Kent where they offer flights and give the student control of this dual-controlled aircraft during the flight. The American Boeing Stearman was used as a military primary trainer and built during the 1930s and 1940s. It was operated by the United States as well as many other countries. This particular aircraft is believed to be a US Navy variant which was operated well into the 1950s before entering civilian hands in 1957. It was later rebuilt as a crop duster until 1981 before coming over to the UK and being acquired by TG Aviation in 2002.
Miss Helen, a P-51D Mustang
was next up to display. The Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter which was built to British requirements and powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine. This particular aircraft, which currently wears the same colour scheme as she did in 1945, saw active service in World War II with 352 Fighter Group 'The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney', and has several confirmed kills to her name. She is currently based at the Boultbee Flight Academy at Goodwood Aerodrome.
The Royal Air Force then displayed the mighty Chinook helicopter
. This large twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter is operated by the RAF from land or ship for trooping, resupply and battlefield casualty evacuation. It can carry 55 troops or up to 10 tonnes of mixed cargo and as seen in its display at Cosford is extremely manoeuvrable for such a large helicopter.
Navy Wings brought along their popular Sea Fury T20
which put on its usual impressive display. The British-built Hawker Sea Fury is one of the fastest single piston-engined production aircraft ever built and entered service two years after the end of World War II. During the Korean War the Sea Fury was operated in the ground attack role as well as combat air patrols and actually shot down a MiG-15 jet.
The Global Stars Aerobatic Team
displayed next in two of their aircraft - an Extra 300 and Mudry CAP-232. This was a very tight display by two different aircraft types which made it all the more impressive. The aircraft, which are flown by a team of British aerobatic champions past and present, have a striking paint scheme which is white with red stars and a Union Jack on the tail fin. The aircraft also carry the new wifi controlled synchronised 'dotty smoke' systems.
The Army Air Corps then displayed the Apache AH1
attack helicopter which included pyrotechnics. The AAC Apache AH1 is a licence-built version of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter and weapons include an M230 Chain Gun, Hellfire Missiles and Rockets. A contract to re-manufacture 38 of the AAC Apache helicopters into the latest AH-64E version was announced in May 2017. This is a favourite display act for many photographers as they try to capture the Apache in front of the pyrotechnic explosions and smoke, especially at the end of the display when the helicopter hovers in front of a huge impressive wall of fire and black smoke.
An interesting display next with the 'Baby Blue' Display Team
. This is the official aerobatic team of the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) and consists of four Swedish built Saab T17 Supporter aircraft. The aircraft belong to the RDAF Flying School situated at Karup airbase in the Western part of Denmark and the pilots are all instructors at the Flying school.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
were next with the Lancaster and two Spitfires. The Lancaster had only just performed her first air test of the year which was two days before the Cosford show and as a result only made a couple of flypasts before we saw displays by the two BBMF Spitfires. The Spitfires were a PR.XIX (PM631) photo reconnaissance aircraft and a Mk.IX (MK356).
The Duxford based de Havilland Dragon Rapide
displayed next, wearing the colours of Scottish Airways, with which it served from 1943 to 1947. The Dragon Rapide was a 1930s short-haul biplane airliner carrying 6 to 8 passengers. During World War II many civilian Dragon Rapides were pressed into service with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and used for radio and navigation training, passenger transport and communications missions, before being returned to civilian use after the war.
Representing 65 years since the first flight of the Jet Provost
, we saw the T3 (RAF Red Pelicans scheme), T5 and a Strikemaster display. In the 1960s the 'Red Pelicans' display team initially flew the Jet Provost T3 before being re-equipped with four then six Jet Provost T4s, a smoke system and being painted a dayglo-red scheme. For the 1964 season the RAF decided that the Red Pelicans should be the premier Royal Air Force aerobatic team until that role was given to the Red Arrows in 1965. The Red pelicans continued to display at air shows until they were disbanded at the end of 1973.
The next display was the yellow & black Pitts S-1S Special
(G-VOOM) performing an energetic aerobatic display. This was followed by the arrival of the Red Arrows
from behind the air show crowd at 3pm. The popular Red Arrows are displaying in the UK during June and July this year before leaving for a tour of North America after the Royal International Air Tattoo has finished. This means that only a handful of UK air shows will get a Red Arrows display this year and there will not be any UK displays by the Red Arrows in August or September. The North American Tour (Western Hawk 19 Tour)
will include displays in Canada and the United States of America.
A surprise act was next with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. I
(P3717, G-HITT) and the Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon
'White 9' (G-AWHH) performing a dogfight. During the 'Battle of Britain' in 1940, the Hurricane along with the Spitfire would be matched against the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter. The Messerschmitt was more powerful than the Hurricane and had a better climb rate although the Hurricane could out-turn the 109 and was was more robust. For this reason the Spitfire would usually take on the German fighters and leave the German bombers to the Hurricanes.
The Belgian Air Force A109
helicopter made a welcome return to the RAF Cosford Air Show this year. This agile helicopter is used in various roles, including light transport, medical evacuation, search-and-rescue, and military roles.
With the weather improving at this point and the sun moving to a better position for photography, we had an awesome display by the Swiss F/A-18C Hornet
which arrived at speed and showed off the power and noise of this fighter jet. The Hornet demonstrated its high angle-of-attack and also some slow passes with the wheels and arrestor hook down.
The Vintage Pair
displayed their two De Havilland Chipmunks next. One of the Chipmunks is WG308 which is an ex-RAF example while the other is a Portuguese built Chipmunk (1350). The name 'Vintage Pair' may be remembered by some who attended air shows in the 1970s and 80s as it was the name of the RAF's CFS (Central Flying School) Historic Flight that displayed the De Havilland Vampire and Gloster Meteor.
Arriving next were two Czech Air Force L-159 ALCA
aircraft along with a Spitfire PR.XI. The ALCA is a light attack Jet and advanced trainer and is produced in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody. The photo-reconnaissance Spitfire was PR.XI (PL983/G-PRXI) and it should be remembered the role that foreign pilots including the Czechs played in the 'Battle of Britain'. The Spitfire displayed first and this photo-reconnaissance variant would have been fitted with cameras but not with any armament so as to keep the aircraft as light as possible so that it was fast enough to evade any enemy fighters. The ALCAs then performed their attack routine using pyrotechnics to add to the realism which made this a very enjoyable display.
Another surprise item in the display was the welcome return of the bright yellow Whirlwind helicopter
(XJ729). The Whirlwind served with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as an anti-submarine and search & rescue helicopter as well as the Royal Air Force in the 'Search and Rescue' role which is why it is painted bright yellow.
Next in the flying display was a German Navy P-3C Orion
and it is quite rare to see this aircraft type in a UK flying display. The Orion made a few passes allowing us to get a good view of this four-engined anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. This American aircraft type is operated by several countries and 757 were produced overall with the first flight in November 1959 and entry into US Navy service in the 1960s.
Lastly we saw the Czech Air Force JAS-39C Gripen
put on a terrific display in a special 100 years Tiger paint scheme. The paint scheme is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Air Component of the Czech Republic (1918 to 2018). This was an excellent display item to end the flying display and was really appreciated by the crowd.
Last year's RAF Cosford Air Show was special with the centenary of the Royal Air Force but this year's show has to be one of the very best and a lot of credit should go to the organisers again. They were of course helped by the good weather on Sunday after the wet and windy conditions before and after the show but the air display with the Swiss Hornet, Czech Gripen, ALCAs and German Navy Orion was superb.
The layout of the static aircraft and the ground entertainment was also very good. Traffic management was so much better this year and was partly helped by many leaving after the Red Arrows display but also by being better organised.
Thanks to the RAF Cosford Air Show organisers for an excellent show and for all their hard work.
Article & photos by Dave Key - www.military-airshows.co.uk