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Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 ZF269 Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse) English Electric Lightning F3 XR713 Royal Air Force (111 Squadron, RAF Leuchars- retired) 111 Squadron Badge RAF Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 ZK380

Introduction

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.

Practice Day

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.

Boeing Sentry AEW1 ZH102
UK RAF Sentry AEW1 ZH102, rehearsing its display routine.

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.

Dassault Rafale B s/n 113-HN
Dassault Rafale B s/n 113-HN, of the French Air Force.

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)
Time Aircraft Serial No. Owner/Operator
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

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.

Static Display

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.

Vickers VC10 C1K XR808
UK RAF Vickers VC10 C1K XR808

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.

Flying Display

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.

The Blades, performing “The Fountain” manoeuvre.
The Blades, performing “The Fountain” manoeuvre.

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.

UK RAF Panavia Tornado GR4A ZG754
UK RAF Panavia Tornado GR4A ZG754 of 15 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth

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)
Time Aircraft Serial No. Owner/Operator
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)

 

Departures

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.

UK RAF Panavia Tornado GR4A ZA542
UK RAF Panavia Tornado GR4A ZA542

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:

(All Departures)
Time Aircraft Serial No. Owner/Operator
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

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