|The RAF Waddington International Air Show is the official air show of the RAF. Whilst not as big as RIAT it has become a popular air show with a strong following. This peaked last year with the return to the sky of the Vulcan bringing out the public in record numbers.
This year has been a tough year for the air show. The budget tightening of air forces around the world has made it harder to get the foreign fast jet air displays. The RAF’s own budget problems meant the Role Demo display wouldn’t be performed anymore.
A glimmer of hope in the form of the very popular Harrier display appeared. It was announced that 20(R) Squadron would provide a display in the form of a role demonstration.
A display was starting to be worked up by 20(R) before it was cancelled. It’s uncertain if this was due to budget cuts or because the Jump Force Harrier wasn’t relieved of their front line role in Afghanistan when expected but it was another blow to the show.
This meant the display list for 2009 had more civilian display teams and mostly military training aircraft displaying.
If all this wasn’t bad enough the Vulcan was pulled from the display list at the last minute. The Permit to Fly it had achieved last season had been issued with an understanding that when the non flying Vulcan owned by BAE systems (XM603) was scrapped a structural inspection would be performed. Vulcan XM603 is considered to be part of the Vulcan fleet and it is assumed it is in the same condition as XH558. By having the inspection performed on XM603 VTST would not have to strip down XH558 for the inspection to be performed. All great in theory but the inspection (for reason unknown at the time of writing) was not done and when the Permit to Fly expired the CAA refused to issue a renewal and the Vulcan is now stranded at RAF Waddington until this issue can be resolved.
With the background covered, lets get onto the photos! The day started with the three aircraft stationed at RAF Waddington taking off and performing a fly past. These being the E-3D Sentry, Nimrod R1 and the Sentinel R1. Only the Sentinel landed afterwards, the other two left for an operational sortie and returned in the afternoon.
The RAF Falcon parachute display team again put on a very polished performance. Rather than jumping from a Hercules as they did last year this year they jumped from a RAF Chinook. Another change from last year was the addition of smoke which worked very well.
The Red Arrows as always put on a very polished performance with at least one new move for the 2009 season.
The Breitling Jet Team also but in a very good performance. I especially like the paint scheme applied to the L-39 Albatros jets they operate and found it very easy to photograph.
Whilst it was great to watch the performances of the fast jet display teams it was the Chinook that was my highlight of the day. To see such a big helicopter being thrown around to that degree never ceases to amaze me.