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 Navy.
Compared to last year, there was a big increase in the admission charges. Last year 1 adult + 1 park & ride + 1 booking fee cost £24.05. This year the same tickets cost £33.45, an increase of 39%. 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. 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”.
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 full list of the aircraft movements below.
List of Aircraft Movements (arrivals, unless otherwise stated)
|12:35||Vickers VC10 C1K XR808 – Royal Air Force (101 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton)|
|13:09||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 ZK326 – Royal Air Force (1 Squadron, RAF Leuchars), with Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Ss 36-22 and 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 and 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, and Christen Industries Pitts Special S-2B G-ZIII – William Cruickshank / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:04||Hawk T2 ZK031 – Royal Air Force (4 Squadron, RAF Valley)|
|14:30||Lockheed C-130H Hercules G-781 – Royal Netherlands Air Force (departed)|
|14:53||Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Sentinel R1 ZJ693 – Royal Air Force (5 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|15:04||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH102 – Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|15:11||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 ZK305 – Royal Air Force (11 Squadron, RAF Coningsby)|
|15:21||Boeing Chinook HC2 ZA713 – Royal Air Force (18/27 Squadrons, RAF Odiham)|
|15:28||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 ZK381 – Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars); Dassault Rafale B 113-HN – French Air Force; Hawk T1/A XX184 – Royal Air Force (100 Squadron, RAF Leeming) (took off)|
|15:43||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH102 – Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington) (took off for practice run of display routine)|
|16:03||Panavia Tornado GR4A ZA398 “Shiny Two 1912” – Royal Air Force (2 Squadron, RAF Marham)|
|16:08||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 ZJ936 “100 Larkhill 1912” – Royal Air Force (3 Squadron, RAF Coningsby)|
|16:18||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH102 – Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington) (landed after practice run of display routine)|
|16:34||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 ZF374 – Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse)|
|16:41||Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 ZK381 – Royal Air Force (6 Squadron, RAF Leuchars); Dassault Rafale B 113-HN – French Air Force; Hawk T1/A XX184 – Royal Air Force (100 Squadron, RAF Leeming) (landed)|
|16:44||Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey” G-UHIH – MSS Holdings|
|16:55||Pitts Special S-1S G-PARG – Richard Pargeter|
|17:06||Extra 300LPs 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:
List of Aircraft Movements (displays, unless otherwise stated)
|11:15||Hawk T1/A XX230 “RAF Benevolent Fund” – Royal Air Force (208 Squadron, RAF Valley)|
|11:30||The Red Arrows- Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)|
|11:43||Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XIX PM631 – Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)|
|12:05||4 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 – Royal Air Force (Flypast- part of 1 Squadron ceremony)|
|12:38||Replica Plans SE.5a G-BKER – Neil Geddes|
|12:44||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 ZF269 “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee” – 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||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 – Royal Air Force|
|14:03||Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 ZF269 “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee”, and Shorts S-312 Tucano T1 ZF374 “EIIR” – Royal Air Force (No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-On-Ouse) (departed)|
|14:04||Hawker Sea Fury T.20 G-RNHF – Naval Aviation Limited / Royal Navy Historic Flight (departed)|
|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, and Christen Industries Pitts Special S-2B G-ZIII – William Cruickshank / Wildcat Aerobatics|
|14:41||Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc LF363, and Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XIX PM631 – Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight|
|15:00||The Red Arrows- Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team|
|15:35||Gloster Meteor T.7 G-BWMF – Air Atlantique Classic Flight (departed)|
|15:38||Panavia Tornados GR4 ZA547 “1,000,000 Flying Hours”, and ZG754 – Royal Air Force (15 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth) (Role Demonstration)|
|15:51||Avro Vulcan B2 XH558/G-VLCN – Vulcan To The Sky|
|16:03||Boeing Chinook HC2 ZA713 – Royal Air Force (18/27 Squadrons, RAF Odiham)|
|16:13||Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 60-0024 / LA – United States Air Force (2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB) (Flypast)|
|16:15||Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH102 – Royal Air Force (8 Squadron, RAF Waddington)|
|16:21||Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey” G-UHIH, and Hughes OH-6A Cayuse G-OHGA – MSS Holdings|
|16:31||Extra 300LPs G-ZXLL G-ZEXL G-ZXEL & G-OFFO – The Blades (departed)|
|16:33||8 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 – Royal Air Force (took off)|
|16:41||British Aerospace Jetstream 41 G-MAJG – Eastern Airways (departed)|
|16:44||Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3 133599; FFA DH100 Vampire FB.6 SE-DXS; Federal Aircraft Factory DH115 Vampire T.55 LN-DHZ – Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|
|17:04||The Red Arrows: Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team (departed)|
|17:33||8 x Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 – Royal Air Force (Diamond 9 Formation Flypast)|
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 below.
List of Aircraft Departures
|11:26||Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3 s/n 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 228-212 s/n 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 – Army Air Corps|
|13:08||Fokker F-16AM Fighting Falcon s/n 686, and Fokker F-16BM Fighting Falcon s/n 305 – Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|13:15||FFA DH100 Vampire FB.6 SE-DXS, and Federal Aircraft Factory DH115 Vampire T.55 LN-DHZ – Norwegian Air Force Historic Flight|