RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2008 - Press Release
Harriers Return to Yeovilton
RNAS Yeovilton Air Day, which takes place on July 5th, will offer a unique opportunity to view a number of versions of the legendary Harrier jump jet, both in the air and on the ground.
When the last Sea Harrier FA2s left RNAS Yeovilton early in 2006, Somerset lost one of its most iconic and best-loved aircraft from the skies. The Sea Harriers were, for many, indelibly linked to Yeovilton, and their departure was an event tinged with sadness.
Air Day 2008 will recapture some of that old magic, with no less than three, very different Harriers on show.
As in previous years, Naval Strike Wing Harrier GR9s will play a significant part in the spectacular Commando Assault finale but, for the first time, the Flying Display will also include a demonstration by the VAAC Harrier – one of the real Stars of the Show, and a unique research/ developmental airframe very rarely seen in public.
On the ground, meanwhile, three Spanish Navy EAV-8Bs Harriers, known as ‘Matadors’, will form a part of this year’s Static Display.
The VAAC (Vectored-Thrust Aircraft Advanced Flight Control) Harrier was built in 1969 as a Harrier T2 and, as such, is the oldest airworthy twin-seat Harrier left flying. Operated now by defence firm QinetiQ, the VAAC Harrier incorporates a fly-by-wire system and this, combined with the Harrier’s V-STOL (Vertical Short Take-Off and Landing) abilities, has led to the aircraft being used to trial future V-STOL technologies in recent years.
The Harrier GR9 is the ultimate development of the basic Harrier design, incorporating upgraded avionics and weapons and, having replaced the beloved Sea Harrier, only having been in Royal Navy service since 2006. It is anticipated that the Fleet Air Arm will continue to fly the type until 2015, at which point the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter will take over. A pair of Harrier GR9s will, once again, showcase the sharp end of 21st naval airpower in the Commando Assault set piece.
Very welcome visitors this year are no less than three EAV-8B Matadors in service with the Spanish Navy. These aircraft are among 17 operated by 9 Escuadrilla at Rota in the south of Spain, with the squadron flying a mixture of standard EAV-8B and more powerful, radar-enhanced EAV-8B+ types.
Spanish Navy aircraft are rarely seen on these shores, making the EAV-8Bs’ Air Day appearance a very notable one.
An Unmissable Event
The VAAC Harrier, Harrier GR9 and EAV-8 represent, together, almost the entire lifespan of the aircraft. They also serve to highlight the type’s versatility with one, a flying testbed, the others, fully operational front line combat aircraft.
This unique combination of Harrier variants has never been seen before at a single show, making Air Day an unmissable event for all enthusiasts of this world-famous aircraft, as well as a reminder of glorious years past, when the Sea Harriers were based at RNAS Yeovilton in force.
The current list of participating aircraft can be viewed at www.yeoviltonairday.co.uk
Advance tickets are available online or via the ticketline on 08445 781 781 until 28th June and thereafter from participating local Tourist Information Centres until 4th July.