After a few days of heavy rain, RAF Cosford Airshow 2019 was ready to present a brilliant program and this, under a beautiful blue sky and bright sun. However, we as photographers, had our work cut out for us and had to fight with backlight and pale light. This was our one and only opportunity with it being the RAF’s only official airshow, the Cosford Airshow.
A tradition for opening the RAF Cosford Airshow was the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team. The Falcons are the UK's premier military parachute display team, based at RAF Brize Norton. The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team is the only centrally funded, professional, military parachute display team in the UK. In their exciting free fall display, which includes advanced manoeuvres, falling at speeds up to 120mph, and their famous unique non-contact canopy stack manages to captivate all spectators. The newest aircraft in the RAF Falcons fleet and their primary jump platform is the Dornier 228. Provided by Summit Air, this dual engine aircraft, with side door exits, provides everything that the RAF Falcons need to produce the exciting show you will see today.
Next in line is for the Grob Tutor T1 display team and in the professional hands of display Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Neil “Ski” Owczarkowski. Neil was born in Frimley, Surrey and was a former member of 457 (Farnborough) Squadron Air Training Corps where he attained the rank of Air Cadet Warrant Officer and completed both gliding and flying scholarships. Since 1999 it has equipped Air Experience Flights, University Air Squadrons and Elementary Flying Training Squadrons. Being easy to handle and fully aerobatic, the aircraft is excellent for teaching the basics of flight. It normally carries 2 crew members sitting side by side, with instructor on the left and student on the right, but for display flying the student is omitted and the pilot flies from the right hand seat. The Aircraft is 96% Carbon fibre, of semi-monocoque construction and is powered by a single 180hp Textron-Lycoming engine, the Tutor cruises at a respectable speed of 135 knots.
2019 is the final year for the Shorts Tucano T1 after 30 years of being used for fast-jet flying training. The Tucano combines the economy of turboprop power with jet-like handling, making it an ideal platform to teach formation flying, low-level navigation, poor weather flying and aerobatic handling. For the final season, Display Pilot Flt Lt Liam Matthews, born in 1992 in Warwickshire, is the qualified Flying Instructor on 72 Squadron.
Next on the list is for the multi-rol Typhoon FGR4 from 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby. The Typhoon FGR4 is a highly capable and extremely maneuverable fighter. It features a canard foreplane to give extra agility, lift and STOL performance. Much of the airframe is made of carbon fibre composite and light alloys. The twin Eurojet EJ200 Turbofans engine’s give the Typhoon a top speed of Mach 1.8 with a service ceiling to 55,000 feet.. The Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s leading air defence and ground attack aircraft with full multi and swing-role capabilities, and has been in frontline service with the Royal Air Force since 2007. All this power was in the professional hands of Flt Lt Jim Peterson.
The little green devil "DR 107 One Design”, designed by Dan Rihn, chief design engineer with Northrop Grumman. The One Design was born in the USA in 1994 as an attempt to level the playing-field in aerobatic competitions. Pilot of the DR 107 One Design is Phil Burgess. A former Red Arrows Engineer, Phil was posted to 5(AC) Sqn in 2013 and is currently the Avionics Trade Specialist on the Sentinel R1 aircraft . Phil’s aircraft has a 160HP engine driving a constant speed propeller giving the perfect balance of power, light weight and relatively low operating costs. During his display at the RAF Cosford Airshow you will see the aircraft flying at speeds of up to 250mph and sustaining a punishing +6, -4G.
A colorful appearance for the Boeing NS2-3 Stearman in his red U.S. Navy livery, or ‘Sweet Sue’.
Miss Helen is a little bit special, even among P-51 Mustangs. Delivered to the US Army Air Force (USAAF) in 1945, she saw active service in World War II with 352 Fighter Group (FG) ‘The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney’, and has several confirmed kills to her name. What’s more, she’s still in flying condition today, and capable of ripping through the skies at up to 400 knots /460 mph!
She was flown by Capt. Raymond Littge as ‘Miss Helen’ and later by Lt. Russell Ross as ‘Miss Nita’. Today wearing the same paint scheme as she did in 1945, she’s the last original 352nd Fighter Group P-51 known to exist. 352 FG flew nearly 60,000 combat hours in just 19 months of WWII, claiming 519 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, 287 on the ground and produced 26 aces for losses of 118 aircraft. Her full name is ‘P-51D-20NA 44-72216’ and when she was delivered to Capt. Littge he already had a kill tally of 10.5, including an Me 262. It’s uncertain exactly how many missions Littge flew in Miss Helen but it’s known for sure that he flew her on a mission escorting B-17 bombers to the marshalling yards in Dresden on April 17th 1945, along with another 51 Mustangs! And now in the professional hands of the Flying Legends in Duxford.
Time for the heavy lift helicopter, The Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook, based at 27 Squadron RAF Odiham, home of the UK Chinook Force. The Chinook is an extremely capable and highly versatile support helicopter that can be operated from land bases or seaborne vessels into a range of diverse environments, from the Arctic to the desert or jungle. The aircraft may be heavily armed and is fitted with a suite of self-defence equipment allowing it to operate across highly contested battlespace. Chinooks are primarily used for trooping, resupply and battlefield casualty evacuation (casevac) but the crews are trained to accomplish these tasks under threat from both ground and air based enemies.
With its triple-hook external load system, internal cargo winch, roller conveyor fit and large reserves of power, the aircraft can lift a wide variety of complex underslung or internal freight, including vehicles. It can carry up to 55 troops or up to approximately 10 tonnes of mixed cargo.
Its secondary roles include search and rescue (SAR), and supporting a wide variety of specialist tasks, including the National Resilience commitment. A Chinook crew traditionally comprises two pilots and two crewmen, supplemented by specialists dependent upon mission requirements.
The Sea Fury T20 was a fighter trainer and is still used today by the Royal Navy Historic Flight to give Sea Fury display pilots much valued access to a trainer version of this most demanding of aircraft types.
A masterpiece of power and performance, the T20 generates great interest and excitement at air shows around the country augmenting the Flight when Sea Fury FB.11 is unavailable and enhancing the Royal Navy’s core collection of classic historic naval aircraft. Sea Fury T20 G-RNHF (VX281) was the second of 60 Sea Fury T20 aircraft built as weapon trainers for the Fleet Air Arm. Delivered to the Royal Navy in 1950 she served with 736 and 738 Naval Air Squadrons at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose before being sold to the West German Government in 1963. Painted in the markings of an F10 single-seat aircraft of 799 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton in 1949, VX281 was acquired from the United States in 2007 and rebuilt at North Weald.
The aircraft is loaned to the Royal Navy Historic Flight by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and is displayed by the Historic Flight under an agreement between the Trust and the Royal Navy.
Mark Jefferies, Tom Cassells, Chris Burkett, Steve Carver, Michael Pickin all British Champions, together they form the Global Stars aerobatic team. The Global Stars team provide spectacular formation air displays or solo air displays. For 2017 Mark has purchased the very latest, highest performance certified aircraft the EXTRA 330SC.
The Extra 330SC (single competition) is the top of the range awesome aerobatic aircraft with +10/-10 G limits. G- IIHI. It is one of the first of its type to be built, its serial number is 008 and it is entirely in a class of its own. It is fitted with the newly certified Lycoming AE10-580 engine which has been specifically developed for high performance aerobatic aircraft. The engine produces an impressive 320hp (580 cubic inches but only turning at 2700 rpm) which when you consider there is no ground resistance, is quite incredible. Its maximum diving speed is 418 km/h and it has an incredibly fast roll rate of 420 degrees per second. If the weather conditions are right, the aircraft can be seen to hover and in the right hands, it really does perform manoeuvres that should not be possible! Mark Jefferies is one of the few pilots that can fly this aircraft to its limits! As well as its sporty paint scheme, the Extra 330SC has a unique smoke system fitted which enables smoke to be “pulsed” out, offering something different to air show audiences.
Another famous RAF display team, the Attack Helicopter Display Team with the Agusta Westland Apache AH MKI from RAF Middle Wallop. The Boeing AH-64D Apache Longgbow attack helicopter is able to operate in all weather conditions, day and night. Equipped with an advanced system that can detect, classify and priorities up to 256 potential targets in seconds. A potent mix of weapons can be carried, including rockets and hellfire missiles. The Smart Onboard Data Interface Module (SMODIM) transmits Apache data to an AWSS ground station for gunnery evaluation. The AH-64's standard of performance for aerial gunnery is to achieve at least 1 hit for every 30 shots fired at a wheeled vehicle at a range of 800–1,200 m. The AH-64 is powered by two 850 Rolls-Royce Turbomeca turboshafts engines with high-mounted exhausts on either side of the fuselage.
After a long trip from their home base Karup in Denmark, we have the Baby Blue the official display team of the Royal Danish Air Force. The Team flies four Saab T-17 Supporter aircraft, all of which belong to the RDAF’s flying school, known as the Flyveskolen based at Karup Air Base. The pilots are al instructors at the flying school and flying on the team is a side job to their other main duties instructing on the T-17.
The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) operates from RAF Coningsby; a Typhoon and fighter base in Lincolnshire. The BBMF operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane Mk 2Cs, a Lancaster as well as a C47 Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training). Today at RAF Cosford Airshow,
the BBMF De Lancaster and spitfire are flying. The Avro Lancaster, the most successful British heavy bomber of World War II, powered by two 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture engines and armed with a mixed load of high- explosive bombs and armed with a powered tail turret mounting four 0.303-inch (7.7-mm) machine guns, a powered twin-0.303 turret on the upper rear fuselage, and a pair of 0.303s in the nose; a few had twin-0.303 belly turrets. Operated by a basic crew of seven, including the pilot, copilot, bombardier, navigator, radioman, and gunners. Many of these young crew lost their lives over enemy lines during dangerous nightly bombings. The Lancaster PA474, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition out of the 7,377 that were built (the other is in Canada with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at Hamilton, Ontario).
The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a 1930s short-haul biplane airliner developed and produced by British aircraft company de Havilland. Capable of accommodating 6–8 passengers, it proved an economical and durable craft, despite its relatively primitive plywood construction. G-AGJG, a DH89A, in the colours of Scottish Airways, is airworthy and in the hands of private owners at Duxford Airfield, Cambridge, England.
The BAC Jet Provost T3, the first prototype of the Jet Provost flew first on 26 June 1954 from Luton Airport with Dick Wheldon at the controls. The aircraft was developed in liaison with the RAF Flying Training Command to ensure that
it incorporated many of their desired characteristics such as easy instructional processes and low cost maintenance. In 1957 Hunting Percival received their first tangiable success for Jet Provost when a production order was received
for 40 T3 aircraft with the increased power Armstrong Siddeley Viper engine, ejector seats and a revised undercarriage arrangement. In total, 201 T3's were built at Luton between 1958 and 1962 although the T4 variant was already underway by mid-1960. The T4 carried an improved Viper ASV.11 power unit and it was very quickly adopted into RAF service by the key training facilities at Cramwell, Little Rissington, Linton-on-Ouse as well as RAF Leeming and RAF Ackington. 198 T4's were built before a further engine upgrade and the addition of pressurisation saw the arrival of the T.5 which first flew on 28th February 1967. The Jet Provost and Strikemasters are now in private hands.
In the same family as the Jet Provost, British Aircraft Corporation(BAC) 167 Strikemaster pair, the Strikemaster first flew from the company’s Warton airfield in 1967.its was essentially a weaponised version of the Hunting Percival Jet Provost T5 trainer then in use by the RAF, with an uprated Rolls-Royce Viper 535 engine, dual ejector seats, a strengthened airframe and wing hard-point capable carrying 4,500 lb bombs. The Strikemasters exported to operators in the Middle East and elsewhere.The strike master did see many combats as in Ecuador, Omen and Yemen, but most were in fact used as a training aircraft.
For British glory the Red Arrows, we have the private own Pitts Special marked his smoke trails in the sky above Cosford.
The Red Arrows one of the world’s premier aerobatic display team. Representing the speed, agility and precision of the Royal Air Force, the team is the public face of the service. They assist in recruiting to the Armed Forces, act as ambassadors for the United Kingdom at home and overseas and promote the best of Britain. The team is made up of pilots , engineers and essential support staff with frontline operational experience. Together, they demonstrate the excellence and capabilities of the Royal Air Force and the service’s skilled, talented people. Diamond Nine Shape the trade mark of the Red Arrows and the combination of close formations and precision flying, the Red Arrows have been displaying since 1965. The team is based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
After British glory the Red Arrows we were pleasantly surprised by a simulated attack of the Hispano HA-1112- Buchon followed by taking off the Hawker Hurricane for another amazing display.
High above, in the grey skies over RAF Cosford, the Belgian Agusta A109 Solo Display team take off for his demo. The Agusta A109 is a very agile helicopter which has an impressive manoeuvrability. The painting on the helicopter represents a Wolf as its emblem.
Capt Nicolas”Vincent” Rossier from Fliegerstaffel, performing a thrilling flying display in his F/A 18C Hornet. The Swiss Air Force choose the F/A-18 Hornet after a thorough evaluation was the top performance of this aircraft. The Hornet has a very short reaction time from its alert position, very good aeroplane performance and flying characteristics and is able to accelerate extremely fast, reaching sonic speed within seconds. Its extremely good manoeuvrability in curvilinear flight is important in aerial combat in visual flight conditions and is proven to be of the best worldwide.Its high performance radar allows the F/A-18 to detect and simultaneously engage multiple low flying targets with its long-range guided missiles, by day and night and under bad weather conditions. The Hornet is also well tested in electronic warfare. This aircraft, developed to operate from aircraft carriers, is very well suited for our mountainous regions and narrow valleys as well as our short runways.
Time for a quiet interlude with the performance of two De Havilland Chipmunks followed by the symphony of the Merlin engine of the Spitfire PL983 from the Flying Legends Collection at Duxford.
The Czech Air Force was numerous at the RAF Cosford Airshow, with two L-39 Albatros based at Caslav Air Base and at the end of the show we see a demonstration of the Saab JAS-39C Gripen.
The Whirlwind HAR10 is operated by Historic Helicopters. This organization, founded by Andrew Whitehouse, is home to a pioneering and unique aircraft collection and aims to preserve and restore to airworthy condition of a small fleet of vintage Military Helicopters. The Whirlwind HAR10 is painted in the traditional yellow colour scheme of the RAF Search and Rescue.
A rare appearance at Airshows in the UK is the P-3 Orion. The Lockheed P-3 Orion first flew in 1959, and is itself a derivative of the commercial L188 Electra that took to the air two years earlier, yet upgrades have ensured that the four-turboprop maritime patrol aircraft remains a hugely capable asset. Such is the case with the P-3Cs of the German Navy. It has a force of eight, all acquired from the Royal Netherlands Navy. Service induction in Germany with Marinefliegergeschwader 3 to replace the previous fleet of Breguet Atlantics began during 2006. Since then the Marineflieger's Orion fleet has seen extensive use on multi-national operations, notably European Union-led anti-piracy taskings in the Horn of Africa. The P-3 Orion that we see today is from Marinefliegergeschwader 3, based at Nordholz.
As promised, the end of Cosford Airshow was for the Saab JAS-39C Gripen from 211 Squadron of the Czech Air Force. The Gripen is a multirole fighter aircraft, intended as a lightweight and agile aerial platform with advanced, highly adaptable avionics. It has canard control surfaces that contribute a positive lift force at all speeds, while the generous lift from the delta wing compensates for the rear stabiliser producing negative lift at high speeds, increasing induced drag.Being intentionally unstable and employing digital fly-by-wire flight controls to maintain stability removes many flight restrictions, improves manoeuvrability, and reduces drag. The Gripen also has good short takeoff performance, being able to maintain a high sink rate and strengthened to withstand the stresses of short landings. A pair of air brakes are located on the sides of the rear fuselage; the canards also angle downward to act as air brakes and decrease landing distance.It is capable of flying at a 70–80 degrees angle of attack.
A date to save for the Royal Air Force Cosford Air show is Sunday 14th June 2020.