Air Show Preview : Royal Air Force Leuchars Airshow 2006
The Royal Air Force Leuchars Airshow has its origins in the 'Battle of Britain At Home Day' airshows, that were once held at many Royal Air Force stations in early September, and is now the only such event held on an operational RAF base.
In keeping with its past the flying display has a heavy UK military bias with some overseas and warbird participation. Attendances in the 40,000-50,000 range maintain the 'at home day' atmosphere when compared with other events, although without the fast jet formations approaching from crowd rear in afterburner , that I remember from the days of the Lightning in the 1960s.
2006 marks the 90th. Anniversary for two of the resident Panavia Tornado F.3 Squadrons, 43 and 56(R), which will be marked by a number of representative aircraft types operated by these units in both the flying and static displays.
As of mid-August the Airshow website shows a marvellous list of both flying and static display aircraft including many which have not previously attended Leuchars and even with only a few weeks to go there remains the hope of even more to come.
The Flying display is scheduled to include all of this years Royal Air Force official and solo and team display types
Although there is no official Panavia Tornado F.3 display this year there will be a flypast by a "Diamond 9" from 43 and 56 Sqns. , a Tactical Demonstration described as being along the same lines as that conducted in 2005 (involved Tornado F.3, Tornado GR.4, Hawk and Chinook) and possibly a single F.3 flypast as part of the traditional closing Sunset Ceremony.
The flying display listing also includes the Royal Navy Historical Flight Sea Fury ; Polish MiG-29 ; Danish Baby Blue Display Team with the Saab Supporter ; Irish Air Corps PC-9 Display Team; F-16 from Netherlands and Belgium ; Netherlands Agusta-Bell 412; Belgian Augusta A.109 and Sea King , Czech Mil-24 as well as a number of "warbirds" including Vampire, Meteor, Hunter and Chipmunk.
In addition to representative Tornado F.3 from the three based units the static display lists a wide variety of current Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army types as well as visitors from Denmark (F-16x 2 and Fennec x 2) ; Germany (F-4F , Transall and Tornado ECR) ; Greece (Mirage 2000) ; Norway (F-16) ; Sweden (Saab 105) ; Czechoslovakia ( Mil-8) ; Poland (An-26) ; as well as a number of warbird, light and general aviation types. Leuchars traditionally enjoys good support from the United Statesand thios years participation will include a B-52H , KC-10 , KC-135, 2 X F-15C , 2 x F15E from the USAF and a US Army UH-60.
Announced recently, a tribute to the 14 British servicemen killed in a Nimrod crash on September 2nd, 2006, will be held. A Nimrod from RAF Kinloss in Moray will fly over RAF Leuchars during the open day.
Public access is to the north-side of the airfield with the large aircraft static area being on the main ramp with the smaller fighter types being displayed to the east along the north taxiway. Traditionally these two areas have been separated by the usual traders and amusements although in 2005 the static display was run as a whole with trade stands displaced to the eastern end of the taxiway. Information from a trader at the show suggests that this year the layout will be similar to 2005. However, in either event to sample the full flavour of all that is on offer at the show involves a lengthy walk along almost the entire length of the airfield. To that end an early arrival is recommended, especially if parking on the airfield.
RAF Leuchars is on the east coast of Scotland with the North Sea at the end of the runway, the show is held in September - be warned. Actually the event enjoys good weather more often than it does bad although even the lightest breeze can have an edge to it. The last two years have been rather cold and overcast so this years should be better - but then again...
The airshow website www.airshow.co.uk was launched during April and is regularly updated with changes/additions to participation.
This preview was written by Des Brennan.