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Cosford's latest role

Kieran Lear reports on Cosford's 2007 airshow

In the days leading up to Cosford's Airshow, weather forecasters had foretold of gorgeous weather, with clear sunshine and soaring temperatures. Sadly, this was not the case with most of the day burdened with low cloud, restricting pilots to do their flat shows, disappointing for those keen to see different displays blend into a perfect background of blue sky with the odd cloud.

On going into the site itself, two Tucanos were parked up, both in special display schemes (perfect for the aviation enthusiast) plus the Chinook was resting in a spot near to the station along with all the usual display aircraft parked in front of the limited runway (Huey, Blue Eagles, Vigilants, Tutor, Mustang and Kittyhawk, just to name a few). It was rather interesting to see the rare Huey parked next to an AAC Gazelle, with the Huey being a fair bit larger in size.

Cosford clips

So on to the flying itself! The display programme officially got underway with the RAF's solo display Hawk, Flt Lt Mike Child giving us his flat display. It was particularly tricky to capture the special colour scheme the Hawk was wearing in the awful conditions but nonetheless, it proved to be a great display item with plenty of fast, tight passes, vapour and noise. Next up was the unmistakable sound of the Packard Merlin engine roaring down the runway in the shape of P-51D Mustang Jumpin' Jacques'. Although his display was limited, Peter Teichmann showed off quite clearly just why the Mustang was considered one of the best fighters of the Second World War, plus putting in plenty of low passes as well as a couple of knife-edge ones, pleasing for us photographers.

Then a loud thumping noise could be heard - roaring into life, the Huey got airborne and went straight into its display. After the Huey came the specially painted Tucano, the Chinook, the arrival of the Blades and the brand-new Team Guinot, who in your scribe's point of view, puts on a better display than the previously painted 'Utterly Butterly' Barnstormers - helped largely by the eye-catching pink colour scheme! After these barnstorming antics came the beautiful whistling noise of the Hispano HA-112 (or Messerschmitt Me109), flown elegantly by Cliff Spink, who is Chairman of the new company Spitfire Ltd, who the Buchon is based with.

New for this year is the RAF's Role Demonstration, replacing the solo displays of the Harrier GR7, Hercules C5 and Tornado GR4. It involves two Tornado F3s, two Tornado GR4s (although there was only one at Cosford), Chinook, two Hawk T1s (the bandits), a Hercules and an E-3D Sentry. The display starts off with the E-3D coming in at low level before the Tornado F3s appear at centre and cross over and do a few flypasts, inspecting the area, followed by the Chinook racing in to drop troops off with strafing attacks surrounding it. The Tornado F3s circle around the area before two Hawks appear out of nowhere, which the F3s race off to intercept. The Hercules then comes in to the airfield and drops off jeeps and resources before back-tracking the whole length of the runway before lifting off. As all this is going on, the E-3D is circling high above, keeping watch below. With everything out of the way, the F3s keep looking for the Hawks as they come across the runway but a Tornado GR4 comes in at low level for a high-speed pass with almighty explosions - it wakes the crowd up! When the airfield is 'secure', the mass flypasts appear starting with the E-3 then Chinook, Hercules, Tornados and the Hawks before the Hercules gives a very short tactical demonstration! From the people I talked to, they liked the Role Demonstration as it provides plenty of action and suspense - it was certainly a popular act among the rest of the crowd and positive for the RAF.

Next came the crowd favourites, the Red Arrows, although unfortunately also doing their flat show. Typically, the clouds started to lift straight after they had finished. Their display was not uneventful - after the split into two groups, 'Enid' and 'Gypo', Red 8 came along the runway preparing for the 'Goose' but suddenly broke off to the right behind the audience as Reds 1 to 5 came back on the display line, then proceeded to circle around the Cosford area. The commentator, Sqn Ldr Andy Robbins, reported that a microlight had got into the area and the Reds could not continue - they circled the microlight trying to make him turn back. Fortunately he did, but moments after another appeared in the area! With fuel limited, the Reds had to abandon their display. They finished with the traditional 'Vixen Break' before heading back to RAF Shawbury, where most of the aircraft participating recovered. Credit must go to Red 1, Sqn Ldr Jas Hawker, for handling the situation with perfect consideration and safety, although I doubt the microlight pilots will escape unscathed - a huge embarrassment for them, they deserve every punishment they get.

By two o'clock the skies had cleared but it was incredibly hazy up above, and displays after the Reds were the Sea Fury, Skyraider (flown by John Beattie), a powerful routine by Jim Walls in the new Typhoon F2, the Royal Navy's Black Cats, a Bucker Jungmann, Extra 300 and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire and Hurricane AB910 and PZ865.

After the graceful displays of the Spitfire and Hurricane, eyes peered to the skies as it was the turn of the RAF Falcons, but they didn't jump from their usual C-130K/J - instead they borrowed the BBMF's Dakota ZA947, which then did a solo display after the Falcons had landed safely. Displays followed with the RAF's Tutor, AAC Blue Eagles and the Sukhoi Su29/31, followed by the wonderful new RAF Role Demonstration (see column left).

It was now time for the penultimate performer in the hands of Stu Goldspink, the Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk with that tiger scheme on the nose - Stu really does know how to show off in a warbird with plenty of loops, rolls and topside passes. We should then have had Air Atlantique's Canberra B2/6, but that had gone unserviceable, so its replacement, Peter Vacher's Hurricane R4118 was due to appear, although sadly they couldn't get her to start too, so we were left with a big gap after the P-40 before the last team of the day, led by Andy Offer, the incredible Blades took to the air. The team fly modified Extra 300 aircraft, the 'LP version, and the solo display pilot for this year is Myles Garland, who produced an excellent display - you could tell all the team were former members of the Red Arrows.

After the flying had finished there was a chance to look around the static and the museums. On static was Team Merlin's Merlin HC3, unfortunately not in the flying programme due to operational constraints, plus there were a lot of Jaguars, an Royal Navy Lynx, Jetstream, a plastic Typhoon and a lot of museum exhibits dragged out for the day.


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