I have been lucky enough to have attended nine airshows in the UK this year and seen hundreds of different aircraft perform. I feel there have been some displays worthy of recognition and have thus categorized what I consider the best performances of the 2012 season.
The Best Display by a British Military Aircraft was the Royal Air Force’s gravity defying Boeing Chinook HC.2 which hails from RAF Odiham in North Hampshire who put on a stunning performance at the Royal International Air Tattoo in the hands of Flight Lieutenant Justin Shaw.
The Best Display by a Foreign Military Aircraft was the Polish Air Force’s awesomely powerful Mikoyan MiG-29A ‘Fulcrum’ from 1 ELT which performed an excellent display at the Royal International Air Tattoo in the hands of Captain Adrian Rojek.
The Best Display by a Military Aerobatic Team was the Republic of Korea Air Force’s smashing debut of the 239th Aerobatic Squadron, The Black Eagles who fly eight KAI T-50B Golden Eagles and put of an amazing performance at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
The Best Display by a Civilian Aerobatic Team was the aerobatic marvels of The Aerostars who fly a formation of six Yakovlev Yak 50s and performed flawless routines on both days of the Duxford Airshow in September.
The Best Display by a Classic Jet was the legendary Avro Vulcan B.2 which is operated by the Vulcan To The Sky Trust and put on an impressive and noisy performance at Airbourne.
The Best Display by a Rotary Aircraft was the unique Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey from the United States Marine Corps which put on a very different type of demonstration at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
The Best Display by a Warbird was the incredible Lockheed P-38L Lightning operated by the Flying Bulls and sponsored by Red Bull which put on an impressive display at Duxford Flying Legends.
The Best Display by an Aerobatic Aircraft was the vintage CASA 1-133C Jungmeister which was flown by Gordon Brander in an exciting aerobatic routine at the Duxford Jubilee Airshow.
The Best Role Demonstration or Set Piece at an Airshow was the epic Commando Assault Finale which bought the RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day to an exciting and explosive close. This demonstration featured a pair of BAe Hawk T.1s from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, a number of Westland Sea King HC Mk. 4s from the Royal Navy, a Westland Lynx AH Mk. 7 from the Royal Marines and an Agusta-Westland WAH-64D Apache AH Mk. 1 of the Army Air Corps.
The Best Formation at an Airshow was courtesy of the Royal Norwegian Air Force with a pair of Lockheed-Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcons and a De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.52 and De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55 from the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Norwegian Military Aviation at the Duxford Airshow in September.
The Best Static Aircraft on Display was the United States Air Force Global Strike Command’s Northrop-Grumman B-2A Spirit which made quite a presence at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
The Best Painted Aircraft on Display was the German Air Force’s Panavia Tornado IDS from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 “Immelmann” which was painted in a terrific ‘Arctic Tiger’ scheme at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
But all in all, the Best Overall Display of the Year was the Republic of Korea Air Force’s smashing debut of the 239th Aerobatic Squadron, The Black Eagles. The team having already scooped the top award at Waddington and also another two awards from the Royal International Air Tattoo, their appearance in the UK marked the first time the team has been seen in this part of the world as well as the first time the aircraft they use has been seen. I certainly hope they return to the UK again very soon.
And finally I feel that the best airshow of the 2012 season was the Royal International Air Tattoo which featured a wide variety of airshow favourites as well as some long awaited returnees and two new national aerobatic teams making some of their first UK appearances.
For more photos from the 2012 season you can check out the albums on Flickr
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