Day one: Arrivals and practice at RIAT 2017, the largest military airshow.
This year marked the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force and hence a stronger appearance by the USAF was most welcome, with the Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor, F-15, B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress all making a welcome return.
Flying Legends 2017, Europe’s largest warbird airshow, featured fine weather, big crowds, a continuation of the revised crowd line and sadly the closure of the “Tank Bank” viewpoint.
However that disappointment was soon forgotten with superb displays from a formation of nine Spitfires, a great Battle of Britain display with 5 Hurricanes, Blenheim and 2 x Spitfire Mk1’s, a spirited Norwegian Dakota display and a Red Arrows display that had to shift is display line to a diagonal that gave the impression they were displaying over London rather than Duxford.
A great start to the 2017 airshow season, clear blue skies, big crowds and superb displays from the RAF’s Typhoon, The Blades, Shuttleworth’s DH Comet & Mew Gulls, Sea Vixen, French Rafale, MiG-15 and finish the show with a pair of Mk1 Spitfires in close formation aerobatics and the Great War Display Team.
Unfortunately the Sea Vixen’s undercarriage failed to lower on its return to it’s home base at RNAS Yeovilton resulting in a belly landing. Thankfully the pilot was unharmed but the aircraft sustained significant damage and it’s return to flight remains in the balance.
Despite the clear blue skies, unfortunately strong winds resulted in a number of planned displays cancelling. However a number of the larger & heavier aircraft from the collection were able to display including:
The ever popular departures day at RIAT, and although some the star attractions had departed the night before or were scheduled to remain, there was enough variety to class this as one of the best departure days for a couple of years.
My first visit to Yeovilton for an airshow. Whilst initially surprised by a relatively small crowd line which made getting a decent vantage point challenging, I found the show to be very entertaining in contrast to some comments by others on social media.
A bright and sunny day coupled with a first visit by the Red Arrows to Shuttleworth, guaranteed large crowds as this small grass strip. New display lines and regulations have been put in place post the tragic Shoreham crash, which have changed the feel of UK airshows. My hope is that all parties continue to work together and review the requirements and strike the right balance between safety and the viewing experience.