The theme of the RAF Leuchars Jubilee Airshow 2012, to give it its proper title, was the celebration of the joint contribution of the UK armed forces during the sixty years of the Queen’s reign. The RAF aircraft on display were joined by representatives of the Army and the Royal Navy.
Compared to last year, there was a big increase in the admission charges: 1 adult + 1 park & ride + booking fee cost 39% more. I appreciate that the economic conditions are very difficult, but this was a hefty increase. Despite this, the airshow was very well attended, with more than 40000 people attending, according to The Courier. The excellent weather was a factor, and with the RAF scheduled to leave Leuchars in 2014, speculation that this might be the last ever Leuchars airshow ensured a good attendance.
The main airshow was held on Saturday 15th September. I also went to Leuchars on Friday 14th to watch the aircraft arrivals and practice routines, and on Sunday 16th to watch the departing aircraft.
On Practice Day afternoon I watched from the field in Main Street, Leuchars, at the west end of runway 09- “Spotter Hill.” This location has a superb view of the base looking down the runway, and of the taxyway at the end of runway 09. Most of the aircraft that land taxy past here, so there are always plenty of good photo opportunities.
The airshow staff had organised a car parking area for aircraft enthusiasts/spotters just opposite the main gate of RAF Leuchars. This was very helpful, as Leuchars is always very busy and congested on the afternoon before the airshow, and finding a parking space can be very difficult. They also provided a list of scheduled aircraft movements for the afternoon.
The wind was westerly, so the aircraft took off directly overhead, and landed over the sea on runway 27. Conditions for photography were tricky- at times it was difficult to hold the camera steady in the gusty wind, and the fast-moving clouds sometimes left some of the view in dark shade.
However, there was plenty of sunshine as well, and a good variety of aircraft movements, both civilian and military. One of the highlights was the RAF Sentry, which flew a rehearsal of its full display routine, which I’d never seen before. Another notable first was the arrival of two Dassault Rafale Bs, of the French Air Force. One of the Rafales took off later with an RAF Typhoon and an RAF Hawk, for “VIP Flying”, according to the aircraft movement schedule.
It was also nice to see an RAF Vickers VC10 C1K, probably for the last time before they are retired from service. Practice day can also include aircraft which don’t actually take part in the main airshow, and this year was no exception, with a C-130H Hercules of the Royal Netherlands Air Force departing Leuchars.
So all in all, a very enjoyable afternoon, and an excellent unofficial curtain-raiser to the main airshow tomorrow. I’ve included a list of the aircraft movements I saw:
(Arrivals, unless otherwise stated)
|12:35||Vickers VC10 C1K||XR808||UK Royal Air Force (101 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton)|
|13:09||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4||ZK326||UK Royal Air Force (1 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|13:09||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon S||36-22||Italian Air Force|
|13:09||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon S||36-23||Italian Air Force|
|13:18||Lockheed C-130H Hercules||G-781||Royal Netherlands Air Force|
|13:34||Fokker F-16AM Fighting Falcon||686||Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|13:34||Fokker F-16BM Fighting Falcon||305||Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|13:37||Grob G115D2 Heron||G-BVHE||Tayside Aviation|
|14:02||Razorback Air Services Pitts Special S-2A||G-PITZ||Alan Coutts / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:02||Christen Industries Pitts Special S-2B||G-ZIII||William Cruickshank / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:04||Hawk T2||ZK031||UK Royal Air Force (4 Squadron, RAF Valley)|
|14:30||Lockheed C-130H Hercules (departed)||G-781||Royal Netherlands Air Force|
|14:53||Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Sentinel R1||ZJ693||UK Royal Air Force (5 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|15:04||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1||ZH102||UK Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|15:11||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4||ZK305||UK Royal Air Force (11 Squadron, RAF Coningsby)|
|15:21||Boeing Chinook HC2||ZA713||UK Royal Air Force (18/27 Squadrons, RAF Odiham)|
|15:28||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 (took off)||ZK381||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|15:28||Dassault Rafale B (took off)||113-HN||French Air Force|
|15:28||Hawk T1/A (took off)||XX184||UK Royal Air Force (100 Squadron, RAF Leeming)|
|15:43||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 (took off for practice run of display routine)||ZH102||UK Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|16:03||Panavia Tornado GR4A “Shiny Two 1912”||ZA398||UK Royal Air Force (2 Squadron, RAF Marham)|
|16:08||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 “100 Larkhill 1912”||ZJ936||UK Royal Air Force (3 Squadron, RAF Coningsby)|
|16:18||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 (landed after practice run of display routine)||ZH102||UK Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|16:34||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1||ZF374||UK Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse)|
|15:28||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 (landed)||ZK381||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|15:28||Dassault Rafale B (landed)||113-HN||French Air Force|
|15:28||Hawk T1/A (landed)||XX184||UK Royal Air Force (100 Squadron, RAF Leeming)|
|16:44||Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey”||G-UHIH||MSS Holdings|
|16:55||Pitts Special S-1S||G-PARG||Richard Pargeter|
|17:06||4 x Extra 300LP||G-ZXLL, G-ZEXL, G-ZXEL & G-OFFO||The Blades|
The airshow was blessed with superb weather this year- the day of the show was one of the best since I first attended in 2000.
I really enjoyed the static display this year. I liked the 11.00am start to the flying display, as it gave me plenty of time to look around the statics in the glorious weather. There were many more aircraft on static display than last year, which is quite an achievement given the current economic conditions. It’s always nice to see types of aircraft I’ve never seen before, so I enjoyed the Rafales, Sentinel, Dornier 228, and Hawk T2.
It was great to see RAF Leuchars’ own 111 Squadron Lightning out in the open this year. And it was also nice to see RAF Tornados and a Typhoon with some tail art this year.
Call-offs are always inevitable for various reasons, but this was made up for with the surprise appearance of the French Air Force Rafales and the Italian Air Force Typhoons.
The vintage military vehicles displays were also very good this year. The weather was so good, though, that I didn’t venture indoors at all this year, so I can’t comment on any of the indoor displays or exhibitions.
I watched the flying display from the west end of the crowd line, as I’ve done in recent years. It’s a bit off the display centre here, but has the advantage of an excellent view of the display aircraft as they taxi in and out. There’s always something happening here, and plenty of good photo opportunites on the ground as well as in the air. The opposite end of the crowd line can feel rather isolated from the action.
The glorious sunny weather continued all afternoon for the duration of the flying display. The wind was a very strong westerly, and this caused the cancellation of the RAF Falcons parachute drop for safety reasons.
This year a stand-up ceremony for 1 Squadron was incorporated into the start of the flying display. The ceremony included uniformed parades in the arena at the west end of the crowd line, and various flypasts. However, it went on for far too long, and it was very difficult to see what was going on in the arena. I also missed some of the flypasts due to the lack of announcements during the ceremony.
When the flying display did get into gear, it was pretty good, allowing for call-offs and the difficult economic climate. The Blades and the Red Arrows are always very good, and I also enjoyed the Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight. The Sentry display was excellent- something I’ve never seen before. The Chinook display was superb this year, with the huge helicopter being thrown around the sky in spectacular fashion.
I enjoyed the Vulcan, despite what some people on internet forums are saying about its display. You can’t expect a 50-year old aircraft (and a national treasure at that) to be thrown around the skies like a Typhoon. I just managed to catch the Typhoon Diamond Nine formation at the end, again due to a lack of announcements at a key moment. Thank heavens they went round for a second pass.
Overall, a very good show this year. Hopefully there will be one more show next year, before the RAF finally leave Leuchars. Here’s a full list of all the aircraft movements of the flying display:
(Displays, unless otherwise stated)
|11:15||Hawk T1/A “RAF Benevolent Fund”||XX230||UK Royal Air Force (208 Squadron, RAF Valley)|
|11:30||9 x Hawk T1/A (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)||–||The Red Arrows- UK Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team|
|11:43||Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XIX (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)||PM631||Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight|
|12:05||4 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)||–||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|12:38||Replica Plans SE.5a||G-BKER||Neil Geddes|
|12:44||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee”||ZF269||UK Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse)|
|12:56||Hawker Sea Fury T.20||G-RNHF||Naval Aviation Limited / Royal Navy Historic Flight|
|13:07||4 x Extra 300LPs||G-ZXLL G-ZEXL G-ZXEL & G-OFFO||The Blades|
|13:42||Pitts Special S-1S||G-PARG||Richard Pargeter|
|13:52||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4||ZK331||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|14:03||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee” (Departed)||ZF269||UK Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse)|
|14:03||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 “EIIR” (Departed)||ZF374||UK Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse)|
|14:04||Hawker Sea Fury T.20 (Departed)||G-RNHF||Naval Aviation Limited / Royal Navy Historic Flight|
|14:06||Gloster Meteor T.7||G-BWMF||Air Atlantique Classic Flight|
|14:25||Razorback Air Services Pitts Special S-2A||G-PITZ||Alan Coutts / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:25||Christen Industries Pitts Special S-2B||G-ZIII||William Cruickshank / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:41||Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc||LF36||Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight|
|14:41||Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XIX||PM631||Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight|
|15:00||9 x Hawk T1/A||–||The Red Arrows – UK Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team|
|14:06||Gloster Meteor T.7 (Departed)||G-BWMF||Air Atlantique Classic Flight|
|15:38||Panavia Tornado GR4 “1,000,000 Flying Hours” (Role Demonstration)||ZA547||UK Royal Air Force (15 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth)|
|15:38||Panavia Tornado GR4 (Role Demonstration)||ZG754||UK Royal Air Force (15 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth)|
|15:51||Avro Vulcan B2||XH558 / G-VLCN||Vulcan To The Sky|
|16:03||Boeing Chinook HC2||ZA713||UK Royal Air Force (18/27 Squadrons, RAF Odiham)|
|16:13||Boeing B-52H Stratofortress (Flypast)||60-0024 / LA||United States Air Force (2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB)|
|16:15||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1||ZH102||UK Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|16:21||Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey”||G-UHIH||MSS Holdings|
|16:21||Hughes OH-6A Cayuse||G-OHGA||MSS Holdings|
|16:31||4 x Extra 300LPs (Departed)||G-ZXLL G-ZEXL G-ZXEL & G-OFFO||The Blades|
|12:05||8 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 (Took Off)||–||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
|16:41||British Aerospace Jetstream 41 (Departed)||G-MAJG||Eastern Airways|
|16:44||Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3||133599||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|16:44||FFA DH100 Vampire FB.6||SE-DXS||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|16:44||Federal Aircraft Factory DH115 Vampire T.55||LN-DHZ||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|17:04||9 x Hawk T1/A (Departed)||–||The Red Arrows – UK Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team|
|17:33||8 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 (Diamond 9 Formation Flypast)||–||UK Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars)|
I went to Leuchars on the morning of Sunday 16th September to get some photos of the departing aircraft. As on practice day, I watched from the field in Main Street, Leuchars, at the west end of runway 09.
The worst weather of the whole weekend was saved until the end, with a severe storm at around 1.00pm. Despite this, I still managed to get some photos of the departing aircraft.
I’ve included a list of the aircraft movements I saw:
|11:26||Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3||133599||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|11:35||Pitts Special S-1S||G-PARG||Richard Pargeter|
|11:45||Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey”||G-UHIH||MSS Holdings|
|12:03||Piper PA-22 Tri-pacer||G-APXU||Robert Ferguson and Gordon Mackenzie|
|12:11||Dornier 228-21||PH-CGN||Netherlands Coastguard|
|12:45||Scottish Aviation Bulldog Series 120||G-BZFN/XX667||Risk Logical|
|13:00||Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander AL1||ZG845||British Army Air Corps|
|13:08||Fokker F-16AM Fighting Falcon||686||Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|13:08||Fokker F-16BM Fighting Falcon||305||Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|13:15||FFA DH100 Vampire FB.6||SE-DXS||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|13:15||Federal Aircraft Factory DH115 Vampire T.55||LN-DHZ||Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|