Report and photography by Iain Ashmore
With the weather during the week preceding the show more suited to species with webbed feet, some were fearful of the implications such prolonged bad weather might have for the RAF Cosford Air Show, with memories of RIAT 2008 still fresh for many airshow enthusiasts. However, waking up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to the sight of clear blue skies filled us with hope that in fact the weather forecasters were again completely wrong.
Using the morning to peruse one of RAF Cosford’s strongest static line-ups for years proved a shrewd move. The RAF Museum had once again been co-operative with the air show organisers and given a rare outing to several of their treasured gems. The Bristol 188 in particular looked magnificent, the metal surface gleaming in the sunlight, and accompanying it outside as part of the ‘Evolution of the Jet Engine’ theme were the Fairey Delta II and Avro 707 (which has been in storage out of public view for a couple of years now), whilst the Gnat T1 was out in the daylight in support of the ‘Training’ theme. Positioned alongside the VAAC Harrier and two of Cosford’s colourful Jaguars, together they made for an impressive static line-up which caught the eye of all who attended.
This year’s operational theme of ‘Training’ was shown to great effect in the main static aircraft displays, the highlight of which was a pair of characterful TB-30 Epsilons from the French Air Force, a type not seen at a UK airshow for nearly 20 years – discounting the aircraft used by the Cartouche Doré display team, of course. Other standout items parked in the training display included a Griffin HT1 adorned in 60(R) Squadron centenary markings and Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-9M. Although not parked with the rest of the training aircraft, 45(R) Squadron’s King Air T1 in its highly anticipated centenary livery was present on static display.
The list of RAF participation did promise much, including the RAF’s new A400M Atlas making its debut at the show, the venerable C-130J Hercules and a special formation flypast by a King Air T1 and the Red Arrows.
Following Sean Maffett’s gaffe-strewn efforts twelve months prior that led him to stepping down, a brand new team was installed to fill the void this year which included, oddly, Sean’s former producer Jonathan Ruffle as the lead commentator. He was supported by Peter ‘The Voice’ Dickson of reality television repute, former ‘Team Merlin’ manager and commentator MACr Gareth Attridge and Absolute Radio DJ Claire Sturgess. This team should have brought enough broadcast and aviation experience to keep the crowd informed of the day’s events, however the silence on any updates to the reshuffled flying programme, including the cancellations of the aforementioned Sea Vixen, Gnat Display Team, RAF Puma HC2, and Peter Teichman’s newly repainted P-51D Mustang, was deafening.
All in all Cosford put on a fantastic Airshow despite natures best efforts to thwart it.
i would keep Cosford in your diary as it is promising to be a fantastic airshow for the 2017 season.