The Folkestone Jubilee Airshow was a particular event that I knew I must attend. This was for a variety reasons. Firstly, this airshow was free to attend. Secondly, the Red Arrows first UK performance was a definite incentive along with the chance to catch a glimpse of the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4. Finally it is the first time in nine years that Folkestone has had an airshow which I haven’t attended since I was very young.
A small note which I hope is read by the airshow organisers. Please take some tips from the people who run Airbourne at Eastbourne. They have good commentary which was virtually nonexistent at your show from what I could hear. They keep us informed which you didn’t as it would have been nice to know that the Breitling Wingwalkers were not going to be performing. I would also like to add that the gaps between display items were ridiculously long.
Anyway, the show was kicked off by the Royal Air Force’s standard training aircraft, the Grob G-115E Tutor T.1. This aircraft is operated by the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell. The display was smooth and calculated as this modern elementary trainer was put through its paces in the painfully bright sky. Unfortunately without any commentary the display seemed duller and not many people noticed the display until after a few minutes after the Tutor started the show.
It has been a very tough year for The Red Arrows since last year’s tragedies that cost Flight Lieutenants Jon Egging and Sean Cunningham their lives in two separate incidents. As a result, the team would be flying ‘The Magnificent Seven’ for the 2012 season. As a tribute to their two fallen comrades, the team will be flying a special formation called ‘Phoenix’ where two of the seven BAe Hawk T.1As deploy red smoke. The formation display of the team was flawless and precise and a great site to behold. The synchro pair was unable to display due to a systems malfunction and headed away from the display area whilst the remaining five jets flew in ‘Enid’ formation whilst performing several rolls and loops. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get a full display from The Red Arrows but it was great to see them back on the display circuit.
A more unusual item to display was the aerobatic marvels of the Yakovlev Yak 55 which was flown by Sam Whatmough. This interesting aircraft performed a varied routine of loops, rolls and complex manoeuvres. I feel this was probably one of the best aerobatic displays I have seen.
Next up was another of the Royal Air Force’s training aircraft in the form of the BAe Hawk T.1A from No. 4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley. This fast jet display truly demonstrated the skills that future Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots need to master. The display routine really did show the professional excellence of the Royal Air Force.
We Have TG Aviation to thank for the next display item. The Boeing-Stearman N2S-4 Kaydet is a classic training aircraft used by both the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Navy before and during the Second World War. The display was very reminiscent of the Fairey Swordfish from the Royal Navy Historic Flight and was an interesting performance despite the lack of aerobatics.
Arriving from RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset was the Hawker Sea Fury T.20 from the Royal Navy Historic Flight which performed a fantastic display along the coastline. This was the last piston powered aircraft to serve in frontline squadrons and is still a popular Warbird and was well suited to appear at this airshow.
The crowds were then treated to a search and rescue demonstration by the Royal Air Force’s Westland Sea King HAR Mk. 3A. This versatile rescue helicopter gave a very good demonstration on its vitally important role over the sea.
One of the Stampe SV.4Cs from the Tiger Club flew in next to demonstrate this trainer aircraft’s fantastically aerobatic manoeuvres. The display was more exciting than I thought it could be and really left a great impression on the crowds.
For the next display item, displaying over the sea was a rarity. The Tiger Club Turbulent Display Team with their four Druine D.31 Turbulents couldn’t perform their usual barnstorming acts but entertained us with some very precise formation flying.
Finally after a long wait with the Breitling Wingwalkers being unable to attend due to bad weather at their home base at RFC Rendcomb Airfield, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight arrived with three classic World War Two aircraft. The display consisted of the Avro Lancaster B.I, a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and a Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE. The Spitfire and Hurricane performed their immaculate displays to the delight of the crowds and then along came the Lancaster for a spectacular display as well as a finishing flypast which was ridiculously close to the beach. This was a truly fantastic display which was defiantly worth the wait.
The Royal Air Force’s multi-engine trainer swooped in on time to display its capabilities. The Beechcraft B200 King Air from No. 45(R) Squadron at RAF Cranwell clearly demonstrated the extraordinary agility of this civilian utility aircraft along with tactical manoeuvres such as the ‘Kasan Approach’. This particular King Air performance was real treat to the eyes and the gentle sound of its twin turboprop engines made the display all the more spectacular.
Shortly after the King Air departed, the Shorts Tucano T.1 from RAF Linton-on-Ouse arrived to perform its display routine. Flight Lieutenant Bond really put this advanced trainer aircraft through its paces by demonstrating the essential manoeuvres that Royal Air Force pilots need to advance to fast jet training.
The Stampe SV.4C returned with two other examples to form the complete Tiger Club display team. The performance was similar to the display before but with added formation flying with plenty of loops and breaks throughout the sky. This display was a true demonstration of classic barnstorming action.
The Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 could be heard in the distance before screaming in for its display which turned out to be particularly intense. This advanced jet fighter hails from 6 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars in Fife. This display offered plenty of noise and afterburners which stunned not just aviation enthusiasts such as yours truly. It was very good to see the Typhoon back on the majority of the airshows in this year’s display season.
To close the show, we were treated to a formation flypast by The Tiger Club Turbulent Display Team being led by the three Stampe SV.4Cs to form the Shepway Salute which was one of the defining display items that the Folkestone Airshow used back in its heyday.
Overall the stars of the show were the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 displays as well as the first display by The Red Arrows despite the radio problems which cancelled part of their display. It was great to see an old airshow resurrected for the public and to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. I truly hope this show will return in years to come.
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