The RNAS Yeovilton Air Day isn’t an air show I usually attend. With a date sat between Waddington and RIAT I’ve always opted to take a break the weekend it is on but this year the line up was too good to miss. The announcement that the French Navy were proving a Rafale and Super Etendard for a role demo had caught my attention and I was starting to look into attending when the Polish MiG 29 was added to the flying programme. That was it decided! It had been far too long since we had Russian fast jets on a flying programme for a UK air show and I wasn’t going to miss this one.
The rest of the flying programme wasn’t bad either, the Belgium F-16 that I had seen display at Waddington, the Vulcan, Sea Vixen, Dutch Apache, Tornado GR4 role demo, Lynx 40th anniversary and of course the Commando Assault that closes the show. A strong line up I think you’ll agree, especially in the current climate.
You’ll see from the pictures that a mix of weather was served up with blue skies, sun, white cloud and dark storm clouds all featuring throughout the day. The weather had also caused problems for the display validations. The MiG-29 ended up doing it’s display validation at 8am on the show day rather than the day before and had just taken to the air as I arrived giving me the chance to see it fly twice in one!
The display was loud with smoke trailing from the engines when in dry power and showed off the impressive climb rate when both engines had reheat engaged. A great display!
The French role demo wasn’t really a role demo in the same way the RAF Tornado GR4 is with a scenario being played out instead the Rafale and Super Etendard flew formation passes, solo passes (both opposing passes, single passes, slow speed pass with the gear down and high speed passes) but it was the high speed pass of the Rafale that stood out. The pressure wave could be physically felt as he came passed and the beginnings of a shock cone was building on the airframe, it was about as fast as you could go without breaking the sound barrier. Impressive stuff!
Continuing the fast jet theme was the Belgium F-16 solo display. Flying the same display I had seen at Waddington the previous weekend with one slight change, at Yeovilton he could use his flares! The Dutch Apache with it’s much improved 2011 paint scheme also made use of it’s flares.
Another highlight of the show was the Sea Vixen and the Vulcan flypast. The first time the pair have flown together. Forming up after the Vulcan display they flew two flypasts before breaking away in opposite directions. The Vulcan coming into land whilst the Sea Vixen started it’s display. It was good to see the Sea Vixen in 899 NAS colours rather than the Red Bull branding it previously wore.
One of the main themes of the show was the 40th anniversary of the Lynx. To celebrate this the organisers can collected together a good selection of various marks of the Lynx helicopter from the Army, Navy, QinetiQ, French and German Navies.