All for charidee, folks!
Frank Togher was at Shoreham for the annual RAFA airshow held over 28/29 August
Generally speaking airshows have a purpose, be it charity, RAF recruitment or just plain enthusiasm for aeroplanes. The aim of the annual event at Shoreham is to raise funds for the RAFA Wings Appeal that helps ex-Servicemen and their families in times of need - record crowds last year resulted in over £100,000 donation to Wings, bringing the total to £800,000 raised since the airshow began. Now in its fifteenth year, it is hoped that last year's sum will be more than matched by 2004's event.
Serious stuff over…this year's flying display was the longest yet, starting at 11:30 and finishing five-and-a-half hours later. Added to this was the largest static display to date. As always, a good blend of warbirds and fast jets is a good recipe for an entertaining day out and this year was no exception. As might be expected, support from the RAF display teams was good though sadly the Jaguar, Tornado and Red Arrows were again absent. The 208(R) Squadron Hawk in special anniversary colours was displayed to good effect by local boy Flt Lt Jon 'Killers' Killerby, who completed his Flying Scholarship at nearby Goodwood. Other trainers on show were the Tucano and Grob Tutor. The Chinook, Harrier GR7A, Falcons and BBMF completed the RAF line-up, but particular mention should be given to the fabulous Chinook display and marvellous topside passes from the Lancaster.
International participants came in two displays that couldn't have been more different. Christian Moullec with his microlight and eleven white-fronted Geese (unfortunately his Cranes get seasick(!) on cross-channel ferries and couldn't make the journey) gave an extraordinary formation display, though sadly this only took place on the Saturday as strong winds prevented his and others displaying the next day. In contrast, Major Ruud Huisman from the Royal Netherlands Air Force put his PC-7 trainer through a stunning display in windy conditions. This gave an interesting contrast to our own RAF Tucano.
The organisers at Shoreham always try for that 'something extra' and a trio of firsts were planned this year. Unfortunately, as most enthusiasts are aware, the much awaited Fairey Gannet was a no-show due to engine problems in Canada. However the ex-Yugoslavian Air Force Kraguj piston-engined trainer and Air Atlantique's Avro Anson were two welcome firsts for the show.
Warbirds included two very welcome flypasts - B-17G 'Sally B' with a Spitfire and Mustang escort, and a Spitfire trio led by John Romain from Duxford. Post-war jets were represented by De Havilland's Vampire T11 and Sea Vixen, both based at Bournemouth.
For me, Plane Sailing's Catalina was one of many highlights with a superb display including plenty of topside passes. Display flying from the Yakolevs quartet, Utterly Butterly team, WW1 display team, Blue Eagles and Denny Dobson in his Extra 300 completed the line-up. Shoreham is sure to have contributed significantly to the RAFA, long may it continue to do so.