Sunday the 11th of June saw the return of the RAF Cosford air show now the only official Royal Air Force show of the year and the biggest public event in the West Midlands with this year’s show concentrating on four main themes, The 60th anniversary of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Battlefield Support, STEM, and International co-operation these themes where all supported both in the air and on the ground with a number of flying and static displays.

 

With RAF Cosford being the home to the RAF Museum the location offers the added bonus of being able to transfer some of its exhibitions outside to be part of the static display for the show. This year saw a number of aircraft brought outside with the most noticeable being the British Aerospace EAP the prototype of the Typhoon and a Harrier GR9 which was representative of the Battlefield Support theme. Alongside these a number of other aircraft where seen on static display including the on-loan BAE Systems Sea Harrier FA2 from RNAS Yeovilton making its second appearance at the show in as many years. Also returning this year was the BAE Harrier T4 from the VAAC project where it was used to test many of the systems for Lockheed Martins F-35B Lightning II but it was the Royal Air Forces brand new transport aircraft which stole the show in terms of static participant in the form of the Airbus A400m Atlas a multi-national, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft marking its first static appearance at the show after making a brief flypast in the 2016 show, making short work of landing on Cosford’s 3,891 ft runway the aircraft really made a presence in the static park. However the Atlas was not the only large aircraft to be static at the show as the Italian Air Force also provided one of their C-27J Spartan’s in support of their Tornado demonstration aircraft which participated in the flying display.

The static park also had a number of Royal Air Force aircraft including a Squirrel HT1 alongside its replacement RAF’s brand new Juno HT1 a military modified EC-135 which made its debut at this year’s show, both aircraft where provided by the Defence Helicopter flying school at RAF Shawbury also seen static was Beechcraft King Air from 45(R) squadrons RAF Cranwell as well as two Shorts Tucano T1’s from RAF Linton-on-ouse of 72 Squadron who this year are celebrating their 100 year anniversary as well as a number of aircraft from the No 1 School of Technical training who regularly provide a number of SEPECAT Jaguar GR1/3 aircraft which are used as ground instructor aircraft alongside the Jaguars a number of Tornados where also provided and were placed around the static park.

This year’s flying display was opened by a 4 ship flypast from the University of Birmingham Air Squadron with their Grob Tutor T1 aircraft each with a Staff cadet in the co-pilot’s seat, following this opening flypast the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team jumped from there new aircraft for this season a Dornier Do-228 to the thousands below demonstrating their precision stack jump in challenging windy conditions.

With the show being the official Royal Air Force Air show naturally the flying display was predominantly filled with RAF Displays including the ever impressive Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 Solo display piloted by Flt Lt Ryan Lawton from 29 Squadron RAF Coningsby but sadly due to a technical issue with the aircraft his display was limited to a single flypast before returning to RAF Shawbury. The Red Arrows also returned mid-afternoon and conducted a rolling display in overcast skies but sadly due to new restrictions on displays after the Shoreham accident there display was moved to a new axis although not really having an impact on how the display looked to the public it did however impact on photography due to the distance away from the actual crowd centre on the airfield this would also have been true for the typhoon if it was to have displayed as that was also moved to this new axis. 

Celebrating their 60th anniversary Cosford saw the first of only a few very special displays from the Battle of Britain who conducted a four ship formation display with three Spitfires and a Hurricane who provided a number of formation passes before breaking up into two pairs performing opposition passes in a display lasting around 20 minutes. The last of the Royal Air Force displays and closing this year’s show was the Boeing Chinook HC4 Display from RAF Odiham in the hands of Flt Lt Andy Smith who put on an impressive display of high energy manoeuvre’s defying belief of what a helicopter should be capable of achieving. The Chinook was not the only rotary display this year as the Army Air Corps yet again provided there Apache Demonstration which put on an impressive display of agility and power with its role demo and full pyrotechnic display.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force Cosford secured two separate flypast from probably the most famous Bombers in the world the first being the Rockwell B-1 Lancer from the 28th bomb wing, Ellsworth Air Force base which performed an impressive flypast with its wings fully swept back and all four of its General Electric F101-GE-102 engines roaring in full afterburner sadly at the time of its flypast cosford was subject to a heavy down pour but that little to take away the awe inspiring sight of the B-1. The second flypast was provided by a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress of the 2nd bomb wing based at Minot Air Force Base which preformed two low and fast flypasts from right to left before returning left to right, although not so much planned during the first pass the B-52 flew past directly in the middle of the B-17 Sally B’s display making for rather a poignant moment as the past met the current in terms of American bomber history.

The United States Air Force was not the only international participation this year as for the first time the Italian Air Force sent there Panavia Tornado display operated by 311º Flight Group part of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo.  Adorned in a special paint scheme the Tornado was one of the stand out flying displays at this year’s show winning the award for ‘Best Presented Aircraft’. Alongside the Italians the Swiss Air Force participated their PC-7 display team who made there debut and demonstrated precision formations flown in challenging winds and for this they won the Hartree Memorial Trophy.

Civilian display acts where yet again well represented in the air with the BAC Strikemaster and Jet Provost pair from North Wales Military Aviation Services Ltd kicking things off with a well-coordinated airfield attack demonstration with a number of formation and opposition passes as well as pyrotechnics on the ground, Making its flying debut at the show as a civilian operated aircraft was the Whirlwind HAR10 demonstrating its former role as the Royal Air Force’s main search and rescue aircraft, The Avro C19 Anson also returned and conducted a solo display showing off the aircraft by providing a number of topside passes showing the aircraft in all its glory, Also returning this year the were the ever impressive Blades however this year at Cosford they where only able to display with three of their four aircraft, the Breitling Wingwalkers also returned along with Richard Goodwin who displayed his ‘Pitts S2S “Muscle Biplane” in probably the most impressive display of the afternoon in terms of acrobatic agility and skill, and As previously mentioned B-17G Flying Fortress also flew in the display in support of the 70th anniversary of the United States theme also adding to this theme was Peter Teichman in his P-51D Mustang Tall-In-The-Saddle painted in its original Red Tails scheme. Rounding off this year’s Civilian displays was a first for Cosford in the form of a historic Battle Field attack scenario in which the UH-1 Huey,OH-6 Loach, Antonov An-2 and OV-10 Bronco all took part and adding to the realism of the scenario a number of pyrotechnics where used on the ground to simulate aircraft bombing and strafing runs.

In summery the 2017 RAF Cosford Air Show was an astounding success both in the air and on the ground with each theme being well represented and received by all who attended, next years show returns on the 10th of June 2018.

Article by Kurt Fairhurst assisted by Paul Atkin with many thanks to RAF Cosford and Squadron Leader Chris Wilson