Toast and jam
Glenn Beasley and Gary Parsons were at Elvington for this year's Great Yorkshire Airshow.
Now a permanent airshow fixture in August, the Yorkshire Airshow at Elvington presented an entertaining and varied event for both the general public and enthusiast alike. Held over a delightfully warm and sunny weekend, toasting the crowd to a turn, Elvington isn’t the biggest airfield in the country, but this works in the show’s favour as the public is given the chance to get up close and personal with many of the aircraft and their crews taking part.
Obviously staging the show in the middle of the school holidays, the organisers are looking to attract families looking for a good summer’s day out. The airfield is also of interest to the enthusiast with the resident Yorkshire Air Museum presenting an interesting selection of airframes. With good support from most of the RAF frontline display teams and a mix of historic and civilian performers there is the recipe for an entertaining day for all.
The static line-up had been surprisingly bolstered the night before the opening day by the appearance of Dutch Air Force F-16B Fighting Falcon J-064. The day's flying participants were also in easy reach of the photographer's lens and combined with the compact nature of the showground area gave the show a very refreshing atmosphere compared to larger scale events, such as Waddington.
Saturday's early morning cloud broke to give a very pleasant and warm afternoon in which full displays could be conducted by all. The ever-popular Red Arrows got their full display in, commentator Steve Underwood bringing along Andy Robins, his replacement for next season, to learn from the now highly-polished master of ceremonies! Sunday's display was truncated due to three infringements of the Reds' Temporary Restricted Area (TRA), something that has plagued Elvington in the past - one hopes that it won't count against the show in the future, despite it not being the fault of the organisers.
Opening the show were the fast taxi runs of the resident Victor and Buccaneer. The sound and sight of these two RAF veterans brought back many happy memories of the late eighties and early nineties, particularly as the Victor, ‘Lusty Lindy’, still retains her 1991 Gulf War markings. The Buccaneer’s appearance can only fuel enthusiasts' hopes that we may see the type return to UK skies soon. The nose section of another Buccaneer from the gulf conflict could be seen in the museum grounds. An unfortunate missing item was Elvington Events' Hunter T7 XF357/G-BWGL, grounded for the weekend at Scampton with mechanical gremlins.
The RAF support consisted of the Falcons, Tornado GR4, Hawk, Chinook, BBMF, Harrier, Blue Eagles and the Typhoon. The Typhoon seemed to be well and truly over its RIAT mishap and back on form with a scorching display in the afternoon heat. There was some disappointment that the RAF’s newest kid on the block did not operate from the airfield, however it still was the undoubted star of the show. The aircraft requires an ISDN line to download information to the central computer - how different from kicking the tyres, checking the oil and swinging the prop!
The Harrier made a somewhat dirty landing on the Elvington strip and impressed with a typically awe-inspiring performance, again being the upgraded GR7A, as debuted last year here at Elvington. There are certainly no signs of the public's love affair with this aircraft ending yet. The specially painted Hawk display aircraft shows up well in good summertime conditions and it is especially pleasing to see two aircraft painted in the same scheme. All too often reserve display jets are left in their normal day-to-day RAF livery.
The BBMF made a rare landing at the show, the Lancaster particularly concerned about the blustery breeze across the airfield, having a look at both ends before choosing a spot for landing. Another historic participant, the Douglas Skyraider, certainly got the commentary team confused with what seemed to be an extended display complete with ‘bombing runs’ which made a real bang on the tight enclosed flightline. The planned pyrotechnics failed to ignite properly on Saturday, but it enabled a double-dose on Sunday with some spectacular fiery scenes!
The Royal Navy Sea Hawk and Sea Fury made the trip from Yeovilton and performed a welcome flypast together. This had seemed highly unlikely only minutes earlier when a technical problem appeared to have ruled out the Sea Hawk’s presence. Both flew spirited displays. Unfortunately the Shuttleworth Collection's Westland Lysander was not so lucky and did not make it into the air on the Saturday due to a magneto problem.
Civilian performers came from Denny Dobson in his Extra 300 and the much travelled Utterly Butterly Wingwalkers. It’s fair to say that Dobson and Will Curtis are fighting it out these days for the title of aerobatic champion of the sky in Britain and judging by the gasps drawn from the Elvington crowd, Denny is pushing Will Curtis all the way. Some of his ‘sideways’ flying, for want of a better description was truly stunning.
Although there were no foreign flyers in this year's programme, the aerial element of the show was well marshalled by all those involved. Some of the commentary was inaccurate, the ‘supersonic’ Harrier had one author chuckling to himself, but their enthusiasm was clear for all to hear. It will be interesting to find out if the switch from the usual Bank Holiday weekend slot will have made much difference to the attendance figures - certainly the car park and crowdline looked as busy as ever, the weekend's glorious weather no doubt assisting the headcount. Elvington can certainly claim to be the North of England's biggest land-based airshow, and deserves to prosper. What would be the icing on the cake is some participation from nearby Leeming's Tornado F3s...before they go.
With the demise of so many airshows over recent years, events such as Elvington can only be applauded for putting together such a quality event. The commencement of flying at around 13:00 on each day of the show allows spectators to arrive at their leisure, avoiding the big traffic problems which are now synonymous with so many of the shows today. However, getting out is still a problem, with ineffective traffic management leading to lengthy jams from 17:00. The organisers need to investigate the possibility of a two-lane exit to the B1228 with associated Police traffic control - the existing single-lane arrangement is simply inadequate and the slow exit may deter visitors in the future to what is otherwise an excellent event.