RNAS Yeovilton Hosts International Air Day
Blue skies and glorious sunshine set off a glittering line up for International Air Day at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton.
For the second year running temperatures soared at the Royal Navy’s Premier Air Day as thousands enjoyed an annual banquet of aviation.
Bathed in the sunshine crowds at Air Day saw aircraft of all ages take to the sky to satisfy spectators with a breath-taking and exhilarating air display.
The crowds– thought to be over 31,000 – representing all generations flocked through the gates, and the show started at 1100 as it meant to go on. The Sea Fury, a 70 year-old veteran of The Royal Navy’s Historic Flight opened the Show roaring in over the highly expectant crowd.
The magnificent Vulcan B2, the ‘jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber’, the biggest aircraft of the day, took to the sky thundering over the horizon and took spectators breath away.
The impressive line-up included the super-fast F-18 Hornet from the Swiss Air Force. Captain Julien “Teddy” Meister wowed the crowds in the Hornet in his display which combined speed, precision and amazing agility in the jet which can travel at 1,300mph.
Captain Meister said “The build-up to my display is crucial to its success. I listen to my favourite music on the iPod which gets me into the right frame of mind.
“Afterwards, when I sit in the cockpit and perform the final checks, I am quite calm.”
“I like spending the last few minutes before take-off alone.
“I close my eyes and concentrate.
“I fly the display in my mind – manoeuvre after manoeuvre.”
Thousands were bowled over by the display from the Jordanian Falcons and amazed at the agility and skill demonstrated by the Pitts Special whose performance captivated with an acrobatic display leaving the crowd spell bound.
As commentator George Bacon, a Pilot himself, explained “The Pitts Special Pilot has physically experienced in just 8 minutes what a Formula One driver experiences in 2 hours of a Grand Prix!
“It’s like being in a tumble drier!”
The Fleet Air Arm demonstrated their front line capability with displays from the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force including the very latest edition to the FAA family, the Wildcat.
The Royal Navy’s Black Cats Display Team, displaying this year for the first time with a Lynx Mark 8 and Wildcat, left thousands astonished at the agility on these aircraft.
This was preceded earlier in the day by the Army Air Corps Lynx AH7, winners this year of The King Hussein Memorial Sword for best overall flying display at The Royal International Air Tattoo. The first time this has been awarded to a rotary wing aircraft display
Jock Alexander, the Commanding Officer of Yeovilton, was delighted with the day: “It’s a great day and we have the perfect weather for a superb and diverse flying display program for the huge crowds here today to enjoy.
“I’m sure people are loving the show.”
There was also nostalgia with the Dakota, resplendent in D-Day invasion markings, and 2 Spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The Royal Navy’s Parachute Display Team, RN Raiders flew serenely down though the sky and joined the Air Day party.
Thousands visited the many ground displays and attractions including: a life-sized outline of the recently named HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier for the general public to walk around and get a true feel for the shear size of the ship; the Field Gun demonstrations; the Commando Helicopter Force Forward Operating Base; and a musical performance from the HMS Herons Volunteer Band.
Press Release, July 29, 2014; Image: Royal Navy