RNAS Culdrose 24th July 2013

Culdrose returned to the circuit and as much as the weather tried to ruin the occasion, it failed to do so. The show was a great mix of Naval aviation and warbird entertainment. The only unfortunate part of the day, the Red Arrows having to cancel their show due to a cloud base middling between 400 and 600 feet. It’s true, after the loud speaker stated the conditions weren’t suitable for a fast jet display, and the Sea Vixen arrived on her wing tip five minutes later, some Naval personnel had a few inter service choice words to be said aloud, but I suspect flying an all weather fighter on it’s own in comparison to 9 hawks wing tip to wing tip is somewhat different!!

There was plenty on the ground to keep the crowds happy prior to the flying display: –

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The show kicked off with the patriotic sight of three Sea kings and three Merlins fast and low to the tune of Rule britannia, followed by the ‘balbo’ coming back to hover the length of the runway in front of the crowd, providing the photographers with great opportunities to capture the participants at close quarters. The four Hawks that also launched were supposed to be over the top of the main formation but for whatever reason came through after the initial flypast: –

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Next up Peter Teichman in the P-51D ‘Jumpin Jacques’. A great display as ever, but unusually lacking much in the way of howl / screech / scream / Whistle (delete where appropriate).

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The blades followed Peter in grey skies, followed by the first of the Navy’s history in the form of the RNHF Sea Fury T20 VX281: –

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Catalina next, the big flying boat standing out well against the grey skies: –

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Next up the Dutch, and the awesome helicopter that is the Apache. Spending most of it’s display inverted or as near as it could, the Engineering officer next to me from 849 NAS was in awe, and didn’t wish to try any such antics in ‘the bag’!!!

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Back to FAA history, and one of my lifelong faves, the Swordfish (LS326), coincided with a little sunshine to give her great display. Watching and thinking about going into battle in one of those makes you think, particularly wearing the silver rudder of the other spare back at Yeovilton : –

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Wing walking was next on the agenda, followed by the 10 minute ‘will they, won’t they display’ Red Arrows slot. The team were seen as they popped through the cloud some way from the field, but eventually the decision was made, and it was the correct one going by the cloud at the time.

So enter the Sea Vixen, and recent transfer to the Army, Major Matt Whitfield produced a great disply that you really couldn’t take you’re eyes off of. Great aircraft and great to see it back again on the circuit: –

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The Navy theme continued with the Skyraider, and John Bettie’s first display of the day saw him throwing the big prop about the sky in a similar way to the way he handles the Wasp later on!!!

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A local Classic Air Force aircraft in the form of the Meteor T7 WA951 was next, getting up and completing a great close turning display in front of the VIP tents: –

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Huey and Lynx followed, and the ability to get a great picture of the Huey airborne during its display against a grey backdrop was beyond me. Such a pity as the restoration work on this aircraft is amazing. Lynx demonstrated it’s ability to work like a trolley, leaving me wondering if you have to put a pound into it on the flight line at Yeovilton before you depart, then get it back when you bring it back…..

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Culdrose’s latest (formally arriving with the Squadron the day prior to the show) aqusition gave a great performance next in the shape of the Merlin HM2. The only external difference between the HM1 and HM2 externally being the addition of another pitot head on the port side cockpit side. That said, the airframe was thrown about with all the confidence they’d have had in a Mk 1.

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And so to the finale, and Pirates had infiltrated the Culdrose runway needing the immediate action of 849 and 820 Sqn. A fitting end to an enjoyable day for the first show at Culdrose for a while.

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