The first Gulf war in 1991 promised a long and frankly scary conflict, and it was an unknown future that the coalition air force blasted into on the night of the 17th January 1991.
The reality was very different, with hostilities ending on the 28th February only 100 hours after the ground offensive was launched. War still is war though and the inevitable loss of life was experienced, but thankfully not to the levels that had been expected on that first night.
For the enthusiast, many airframes that had seen active service during the war were winging their way back to Europe and better still, the operating air forces were allowing their aircraft to stay in the schemes they had ‘adopted’ during the action.
Mildenhall was not surprisingly the first show on the calendar to bring together active units that had taken part in ‘the Baghdad air show’, with a victory show that celebrated the swift way in which Kuwait was taken back from its unwelcome guests.
Mildenhall gave us all the chance to see Tornado GR1 ZA447 ‘Mig Eater’, Buccaneer S2B XV352, Jaguar GR1 XZ367 ‘White Rose’, and Victor K2 XM717 ‘Lucky Lou’. These RAF aircraft formed the main part of the RAF static together with Lynx, Chinook, VC-10, Tristar, and many US types. The flying programme also heavily leaned towards all things Gulf, including an excellent Wild Weasel demo providing a memorable low break by the F-4G as I as walking into the base on the Sunday from the Beck Row end.
My next show with Gulf participation was Bournemouth. Stunning weather saw large crowds flock to the south coast venue and gave the chance to see Tornado GR1 ZA491 ‘Nikki’, and Jaguar GR1 XZ118 ‘Buster Gonads’ up close for photographic purposes.
The last show I saw Gulf aircraft at in 91 was to be in deepest, darkest Cornwall at St Mawgan. The weather for the arrival and show days was pretty grim, but departure day brightened up and provided some great pics in the end. Treats on offer were two Buccaneers in he shape of XV863 ‘Sea Witch’, and XX885 ‘Hello Sailor’. Tornado action was provided by ZA465 ‘Foxy Killer’.