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Yeovilton Air Day, one of the biggest and best air shows in the UK happens just across the water in the sleepy Somerset village of Yeovilton. Sleepy that is apart from the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) that resides there.
Also known as HMS Heron, RNAS Yeovilton is home to the Fleet Air Arm, as well as the impressive Fleet Air Arm Museum, and for one day a year to an airshow that attracts air display teams from across the world in addition to displays from the home forces of the British Army, Royal Air Force and of course, The Royal Navy.
This years Yeovilton Air Day got underway with a stunning display from Richard Goodwin in his Pitts Special Muscle biplane who took off, literally on a knife edge. His dynamic display set the standard for the exciting afternoon that was to follow.
Then came the crowd favourites, The Royal Air Force (RAF) Red Arrows with the rolling 9 ship-display. Thanks to improving weather the crowd were treated to the full display from the Reds who were led by the team leader, David Montenegro who is in his 3rd and final year as Red 1. Following the display involving all 9 aircraft, they broke off into their 2 groups Enid & Gypo for displays including the synchro pair’s heart-stopping passes.
The afternoon saw more fast jet action including a rare appearance by a Danish Air Force F-16 along with a pair of French Navy Dassault Rafale aircraft, one in the snow tiger colours for this year’s NATO Tiger meet.
The British forces were well represented with displays from the Royal Air Force Typhoon Display Team, British Army Apache Helicopter Display Team and of course, with it being a Royal Naval base, Royal Navy 2 Lynx Wildcat HM2 and a Merlin HM2.
Classic aircraft were not to be outdone though with displays from a P51 Mustang, Chipmunk, Westland Whirlwind and a Harvard 3. The crowd also treated to the return of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster, albeit in a limited display accompanied by a Spitfire. Sadly the Hurricane was unable to make it.
There was also lots to see on the ground including with highlights including a US Air Force Boeing C17 Globemaster from Charleston AFB taking pride of place amongst static helicopters, aircraft and trade stands. There were also activities and fun galore to keep the younger (and young at heart) ones entertained.
Whilst the day started off cloudy that soon broke into a blue sky and scorching sunshine making for an extremely hot afternoon which was made much more comfortable by the organisers ensuring there was plenty of free water for everyone to stay hydrated. Just one of the many examples that showed how well organised Yeovilton Air Day 2017 was.
The day ended with the Patrouille Suisse, the official Swiss Air Force jet aerobatic display team and their Alps inspired display. The elegant and dynamic display, reminiscent of the USAF Thunderbirds, was flown in the teams Northrop F-5E Tiger II aircraft and was a fitting end to 5 hours of flying that the large crowds enjoyed on the day.