AirshowsNI 2018 review

2018 was an interesting air-show season to say the least. I saw some absolute brilliant displays but also saw cancellations and delays due to horrible weather.

My journey began in June and a trip to Cosford, however with the Queen’s Birthday Flypast the day before I added an extra day onto my trip in London. I spent the first day at Myrtle Avenue, watching take off’s at Heathrow airport and getting to see the likes of a Boeing 787, Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 up close for the first time.



The next morning I walked from my Heathrow hotel to Hatton Cross with a short stop again at Myrtle Avenue and spent some time watching departures once again as well as having a lovely view of the iconic Concorde parked up on 27L.


Getting the tube into the Centre of London I made my way through Green park with thousands of other people and got a spot along the Mall. We were treated to a fantastic flypast consisting of the A400, 2 Typhoons, an A330 Voyager, a C17, The BBMF Lancaster Spitfire & Hurricane as well as the Red Arrows and other RAF Aircraft on a delightfully warm day. But the highlight for me was a formation of FOUR Tornado GR4 aircraft. Sadly flypast’s end so soon after they begin but it was a fantastic 10 minutes or so.

I left Buckingham Palace and began a journey up to Birmingham where I got a top floor bedroom at a hotel overlooking the Birmingham Airport runway. I sat for hours by the window just watching the aircraft come and go. However as I lay on the bed watching TV I heard a familiar noise, I looked out the window to see a C130 Herc come into land and park up almost right under my bedroom window. Later that evening I took a walk to the multi story car-park and watched the massive A380 come into land.



The next day I took the short trip up to Cosford on a rather packed to the rafters train. Blue skies with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures upwards of 30 degrees greeted me, and guess who had forgotten their sun-cream? Yup, me!! I got a seat in the front row of the Cosford club and the lady beside me was kind enough to let me use some of hers, burning crisis averted!

The morning started with the RAF Dogs displaying a series of exercises in a competition and it was lovely to watch them, they seemed like they were having fun! A winner was declared and soon after the air-show got started!

First up was the RAF Falcons who put on a fantastic opening display with one of the Falcon’s carrying the RAF 100 Rely Baton. When landed the Falcon’s lined up for a handing over ceremony to an RAF commander who took the Baton. Much to my surprise the RAF Commander walked over to me and asked me if I wanted to hold the baton and of course I had to say yes! I got my photo taken with him by the RAF Photographer and it was an incredible experience just to be a small part of the #RAF100 celebrations.

Then the flying got started!!

Cosford provided a wonderful rnge of flying. Starting with aircraft such as the great War Display team and Tiger 9 it showcased the early years of the RAF. Fitting in between early years displays we got a fantastic display from an F16 which came from the Belgium air force.


Moving on to the WWII era we were treated to a magnificent display from the BBMF showcasing their Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota in formation flying as well as the incredible Bristol Blenheim. A salute to the Polish men and women who took part in WWII featured a Mig 29 flying alongside a Hurricane before the Mig 29 roared into a brilliant solo display.




Sadly the age of uncertainty didn’t feature quite as much flying as many Cold War era jets are now grounded however this is where the static display shined, a massive collection of jets was on show, Hunters, F4 Phantoms, Lightning’s, Jaguars, Tornados and Harriers were all on the static line walk.

We did however get flying for this era,   The BAC Jet Provost T5 showcased the trainer aircraft used by the RAF in this era as well as a magnificent helicopter displays from the worlds only flying   Bristol 171 Sycamore, The Gazelle Squadron and a Westland Whirlwind HAR10.

Moving into the new era was quite a treat, opening this was the brilliant RAF Red Arrows who put on a stunning full display in the blue skies of Cosford. We also got a massive flypast section consisting of 4 Hawk T2 trainers, a Belfast built Shorts Tucano, the Grob Tutor and their replacement in the Grob Prefect. Also in the flypast was the new A400M from the RAF which is a fantastic aircraft, but the highlight of the flypast’s was the final ever appearance at Cosford of the RAF Tornado which did one slow flypast and came around for one last swept wing fast flypast. The sound rumbled on long after it disappeared!

The Chinook put on a great display and closing the show was the mighty RAF Typhoon which roared through the skies putting on one of the best displays I have seen in a long time.

International partners included the Royal New Zealand Air Force who showcased their incredible Boeing 757, the Belgian Air Force A109, a Bolkow Bo-105 and the French Rafele which in many peoples opinion stole the show!

Overall the Cosford 2018 Airshow wad one heck of an experience! A well organised and very fitting tribute to the RAF over the last 100 years.


I took a month long break after that, my next trip was once again to London and the RAF 100 Flypast. 100 Aircraft over the skies of London, and what an incredible experience this was indeed!

Making my way to the same spot as I had for the Queen’s Birthday flypast I arrived a bit earlier and got to see the parade. Once it had finished the gates were open and a selection of the crowd were allowed onto the Mall. I got a spot between Buckingham Palace and the Fountain with a view right down the mall.

While we waited, Prince George kept the crowd entertained with a game of ‘hide and seek’ behind the curtains of the one of the rooms in the Palace.

Just before the flypast started The Queen, along with the rest of the Royal Family, including Meghan Markle making her first public appearance as a member of the Royal Family.

Starting the flypast was 6 Chinoooks and 3 Puma Helicopters, following this was the new Trainer Juno and Jupiter training helicopters that have entered service recently.

Up next was the historic aircraft and what a treat this was, the BBMF Dakota flew first and this was magnificent to see having not seen her since 2013 in Newcastle. Next up was the Lancaster, alongside 3 Spitfires and 2 Hurricanes that drew massive applause from the crowd and seemed to really please the Queen who no doubt would have seen Lancaster’s in mass during the 1940s.


Next up was the new Prefect aircraft that will replace the Grob Tutor and 3 of them flew past.

Following that was something really special for us Northern Irish folk, 9 Belfast built Shorts Tucano in a Diamond 9 formation. This was very special due to the Tucano being retired from service next year. What a way to send them off, with 9 over the city of London. Hopefully we will get a ‘farewell tour’ from the Tucano in 2019 in NI.

Shadow RI aircraft were up next, only the 2nd time they had flown over Buckingham. Following them was the unmistakeable noise of the C130 Herc aircraft with 2 of them droning over the City, close behind them was the A400 Atlas, which has fast become one of my favourite heavy aircraft.

The C17 Globemaster was next alongside the BAE146 which is used to transport the Royal Family, the Sentinel from 5 Squadron followed.
Up next was the Airbus A330 Voyager, the biggest aircraft on show which is used for air to air refuel as well as troop transport.

An RC135 was next, I quite like this aircraft having seen it at RIAT last summer. Always nice to see it, right behind it was the AWAC E3D Sentry. My first time seeing the aircraft.

Then came the jets! Starting the procession was 9 Hawk T1 in Arrow formation, these were not the Red Arrows however, these were training aircraft out of RAF Valley. Following them in Diamond 9 formation was 9 Hawk T2 Aircraft which is the more advanced version of the T1.

Up next was something amazing, NINE Tornado GR4 in formation over the centre of London. This will no doubt be my final time ever seeing the RAF Tornado as they will be out of service in early 2019, so to see 9 of them together was an incredible sight that will live with me forever. I don’t know what else to say about this… this was just fantastic.


Following them was another aircraft I was seeing for the first time, the brand new F35 Lightning aircraft. 3 of them side by side flew. There is a lovely howl to these aircraft. This was also the very first public appearance of the F35 aircraft. At this time the RAF only had 4 F35 aircraft and 3 were tasked to London for the flypast. I really look forward to seeing what this aircraft can do in the future!


The next was the centrepiece of RAF 100…. An almighty roar as 22 (Yes, you read that right, TWENTY TWO!) of the RAFs front line Aircraft, the mighty Euro-fighter Typhoon with the aircraft forming up to form a 100 in the skies to celebrate the 100 years of the RAF. This was the biggest gathering of Typhoons ever, and what an amazing experience this was.

Closing the flypast was the world famous RAF Red Arrows coming down the mall with their Red White and Blue smoke to massive cheers. That was a remarkable experience. I decided to take in the RAF 100 Flypast instead of RIAT and I do not regret it one bit.


I made my way to the newly re-opened and re-designed RAF Hendon museum, where the BBMF Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes and Dakota had just flown over on their way home. I do have to say, I prefer the old layout to Hendon however it was fantastic to once again walk around a Vulcan Bomber as well as a Lancaster.

Another highlight was the Tornado and F4 Phantom side by side.

August saw the Newcastle Festival of Flight with a revamped line up, a new STEM Village and an RAF 100 Static aircraft tour. On Wednesday the first two aircraft arrived in the Typhoon and Red Arrows Hawk T1..The following day an amazing sight appeared…. A Harrier in Donard Park.


On the Friday the site opened and the STEM tent was a great experience. A highlight for me was the VR display. Starting off in a WWI Aircraft it moved to a Spitfire flying over the White cliffs of Dover before moving onto a Harrier landing on an aircraft carrier, finally a Typhoon roaring through a mountain range. Members of the RAF were on hand to talk to everyone and explain the various displays.

Outside the full RAF 100 National Aircraft Tour was open. A Sopwith Snipe a in a large tent flanked by historical re-enactors. the UAS Spitfire parked across from the magnificent Harrier under the Mourne Mountains and the Hawk and Typhoon proved to be very popular with the crowds.

Sadly Saturday did not go too well. Bright blue skies right up until moments before the first air display was due, suddenly horrible conditions set in. Heavy rain and poor visibility forced the Typhoon to abort his display after doing a quick roar past to check conditions. Rich Goodwin came to say hi but again conditions were too bad for a display.

Word started to filter through other displays had cancelled before the news the Red Arrows had also cancelled. While the council were hopeful for some flying, they were soon forced to announce a complete cancellation of the air displays, and that was the 2018 Festival of Flight. What would have been a great day of flying turned into a wet, miserable day. I’ve been going to air-shows for 37 years, this was not the first time weather has forced a show to be cancelled, and it won’t be the last. It happens. But rest assured the council are already working hard on the 2019 Festival of Flight.


My airshow season came to a close with Airwaves Portrush, I only did the Saturday but again weather caused serious issues. Before even arriving it was announced the Sea Fury would not be displaying, the Huey and loach posted on social media they were stuck in England with weather. The MIG 15 soon followed as did the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Sadly it got worse, the Irish Coast Guard, advertised for the Saturday also did not appear nor did the RAF Tutor display. What we were left with was a lot of standing around between displays, sometimes gaps of up to an hour.

What flying we saw though was excellent. The Aerobatic Glider kicked off the display followed by a beach landing. Wildcat Aerobatics arrived with a very high energy display in their 2 Pitts Special Aircraft showing why they have became a favourite UK wide.



Up next was by far the star of the show in many peoples eyes. The Swiss Classic Formation displaying their 3 Beech 18 aircraft alongside their DC3 Dakota. The low passes of the graceful Dakota along the beach made the 7 hour round trip worth it. Such a brilliant display. Following after that was an Autogyro display. I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It can do quite a lot with such a low powered aircraft.


The Global Stars made their debut next and put on a brilliant display of team Aerobatics as well as a fantastic solo display from Mark Jefferies. It’s always great to see them as they put on quite a show with their ‘dotted’ smoke system.

Following on from Global Stars was the Fantastic Catalina flying boat which did a very graceful low display. Only my 2nd time seeing the Catalina display and it didn’t disappoint.


Closing the days action was the RAF Typhoon who roared around the East Strand injecting some much needed noise to the air-show. While the Dakota was my personal favourite, there was no doubt this was the most anticipated display that day with many looking forward to seeing it, and the Typhoon did not disappoint!


Overall it was a mixed year for me at air-shows. Cosford and London provided fantastic displays however weather played a massive part in disrupting displays in Northern Ireland.

I look forward to 2019 with great anticipation. I already have plans to go to RIAT, Duxford’s May airshow & Portrush. Newcastle being my home-town show is a a guarantee, and I hope to go down to Bray also. Lets hope the weather behaves better here next year!


Newcastle Festival of Flight 2019 date revealed!


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The Newcastle Festival of Flight is once again cleared for take off, this time with an earlier proposed date… Saturday 22nd June.

It is unknown as to why the date has changed however it is widely thought that this is due to the RAF Red Arrows going on a 9 week tour of the US and Canada in August & September 2019 which would have seen them be unable to display in Newcastle in the regular August date.

The Airshow is also looking for a new Flight Director for 2019 with the possibility of extending the contract for the 2020 and 2021 Newcastle Festival of Flight airshows. A tender had been put out recently naming 22nd June as the date of the airshow. However, it is too early to confirm any aircraft at this point in time.

According to NMD Council minutes from meetings, despite the cancellation of the 2018 airshow due to horrendous weather conditions, the STEM Village was a huge success and it is possible they may expand on this for 2019!

So, Chock’s away! The Newcastle Festival of Flight returns on June 22nd 2019!

Portrush Aircraft Profile day 5 – RAF Red Arrows, RAF Typhoon and RAF BBMF

Airwaves Portrush is tomorrow and Sunday, so htat means our final aircraft profiles for Portrush! Today we cover the World famous RAF Red Arrows, the mighty RAF Typhoon and the Iconic BBMF.

First up is the RAF Red Arrows who are displaying on Sunday only this year.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, is one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams. Representing the speed, agility and precision of the RAF, the team is the public face of the service. Look out for some new moves dedicated to the 100 years of the RAF in this years display!

They assist in recruiting to the Armed Forces, act as ambassadors for the United Kingdom and promote the best of British. Flying distinctive Hawk jets, the team is made up of pilots, engineers and essential support staff with front-line, operational experience.

Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team.

This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at 65 shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation.

In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,600 displays in 56 countries worldwide

The engineering team that supports the Red Arrows is known as “The Blues” and consists of 85 members who cover all of the various trades in the RAF.

Each season nine members of the Blues are selected to be members of the ‘Circus’. Each member of the Circus works with the same pilot for the duration of the season and is responsible for servicing their aircraft and preparing their flying kit prior to each display. The Circus also fly in the back seat of the jets during transit flights.


The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey, in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems, respectively. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft.

The Hawks used by the Red Arrows are modified with an uprated engine and a modification to enable smoke to be generated, diesel is mixed with a coloured dye and ejected into the jet exhaust to produce either red, white or blue smoke.

The Hawk T1 version is currently used at RAF Valley for fast-jet pilot advanced training, however this role will increasingly migrate to IV(R) Sqn and the Hawk T2 in the future. The Hawk T1 is also operated by the RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, and 100 Sqn. While the Hawk T1 is used primarily in the advanced flying-training role, it is equipped to an operational standard and is capable of undertaking a war role.

However the Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton and not RAF Valley like the rest of the Hawk aircraft.

Mike Ling, who many of you remember as Red 10 over the last few years returns to the team as Red 3, it’s great to have him back again in the skies all be it in unfortinute circumstances after a tragic crash earlier this year left Red 3, Flight Lieutenant David Stark unable to display as well as the tragic loss of engineer Jonathan Bayliss’s life.

I look forward to seeing the Red Arrows in Newcastle once again. Having already seen them a number of times I can tell you the RAF centenary year display from the Red Arrows is fantastic.



Next up is the RAFs front line aircraft, The Eurofighter Typhoon.

When you see the Typhoon performing on this year’s display circuit it will be the culmination of months of hard work, detailed preparation and concerted effort by the team behind the display. Whilst it is the pilot who displays the aircraft, he cannot even begin to do his job without the unfaltering commitment and backing of the dedicated group of professionals that make up the Typhoon Display Team.

This year’s team, from 29(R) Squadron, comprises a specialist from every aircraft trade along with support and management teams to assist both the pilot and the trades, all of whom work closely together to bring you the dazzling spectacle that is the Typhoon Display.

Every member of the team has been hand picked from what is already an elite cadre of skilled personnel at RAF Coningsby. They have proven themselves in their day jobs and are now privileged and proud to represent the very best in excellence and dedication that the Royal Air Force can offer.

The teams look forward to the unique challenges that a display season brings and the opportunity to showcase the Royal Air Force Typhoon 2018 display to the general public.


The Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities.

It is in service with 6 customers across 20 operational units and has been ordered by a seventh. The aircraft has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, high reliability across the globe in all climates. It has been combat proven during operations in Libya.

Development of the aircraft effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaborative effort between the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Because of disagreements over design authority and operational requirements, France left the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently instead.

A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6 August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27 March 1994. The name of the aircraft, Typhoon, was formally adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were signed that same year.


Every year the Typhoon display gets a new pilot, and this year it is Flight Lieutenant Jim Peterson.

Following flying training, Jim was role-disposed to the Tornado GR4 in 2003. Jim crossed over to the Typhoon in 2006 and took up a position as a ground school and simulator instructor pilot in the Typhoon Training Facility at RAF Coningsby. Jim was posted to XI(F) Sqn in 2009 where he conducted Quick Reaction Alert duties in the UK and Falkland Islands and also flew on operations over Libya.

In 2015, Jim joined 29 Squadron where he is an ‘A2’ Qualified Flying Instructor. Outside of display flying he plays an active role on 29 Squadron teaching student pilots electronic warfare and how to operate Typhoon. In addition to his instructional duties, Jim also contributes to RAF Coningsby’s primary task of defending UK sovereign airspace on Quick Reaction Alert.

Ahead of this year’s display season, which will see Typhoon take to the skies at airshows across the UK and abroad, Jim considers it to be a ‘great honour’ to be able to display the aircraft in what is a milestone year – the Royal Air Force’s Centenary celebrations

Jim designed the display himself to show off the Typhoon’s immense power and acceleration and ensure that the display team’s catchphrase of #BringTheNoise is as appropriate as ever.

I know you will all love the 2018 display, having seen it already this summer I can tall you the Typhoon will #BringTheNoise to Portrush!



Our final aircraft profile is my favourite display, and that is the aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) This year will see the Iconic trio of the Avro Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane with their amazing sounding Merlin engines. I’ve seen the Lancaster multiple times this summer already and I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing her!


The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAFBBMF) is administratively part of the Royal Air Force No 1 Group and operates from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

The aircraft are regularly seen at events commemorating World War II, upon British State occasions, notably the Trooping the Colour celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday and at air displays throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. We are proud to have HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as our Patron.

RAF BBMF commemorate the past of the RAF’s Air Combat Power – Lest We Forget.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre is located at RAF Coningsby in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. A partnership between the Royal Air Force and Lincolnshire County Council, the centre allows visitors an up-close guided tour of the aircraft when not in use, as well as exhibits about the aircraft and other temporary exhibits.

The Aircraft.


The Spitfire was produced in greater numbers than any other British combat aircraft before or since the War, 20,341 Spitfires were built in 22 different variants (excluding the navalised Seafire) and the aircraft remained in production for 12 years. The Spitfire played a major part in achieving ultimate victory in World War Two and truly deserves its place as probably the most successful fighter design ever, and certainly as the most famous and charismatic of all time. The BBMF currently have 6 Spitfire aircraft


The Hawker Hurricane is one of the classic fighters of all time, designed and built for war. It was at the forefront of Britain’s defence in 1940 and it played a major part in achieving the victory of 1945. The Hurricane was the first British monoplane eight-gun fighter, the first RAF aircraft to exceed 300 mph in level flight and the first production fighter with a retractable main undercarriage. The BBMF currently have 2 Hurricane aircraft.


The Lancaster Bomber took her first flight on 9th January 1941 and entered service in February 1942

The Lancaster bomber – PA474, acquired by the BBMF in 1973, is one of only two surviving airworthy examples of the type; the other is in Canada. She was built in mid-1945 and assigned to reconnaissance duties after appearing too late to take part in the bombing of Japan. After various duties, she was adopted by the Air Historical Branch for display work. She appeared in two films: Operation Crossbow and The Guns of Navarone.

Having been flown for much of her service with the BBMF as the “City of Lincoln”, PA474 previously wore the markings of the “Phantom of the Ruhr” and “Thumper”

At the start of 2017 the Lancaster got a new duel paint scheme, on the left 460 (RAAF) Squadron Lancaster W5005, coded AR-L “Leader”, which had nose art of a kangaroo playing bagpipes, indicating the Australian and Scottish backgrounds of one of its crews.

The right side will carry the 50 Squadron code letters VN-T, representing the Lancaster flown by FO Douglas Millikin DFC – grandfather of the BBMF’s current Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Andy “Milli” Millikin, on 27 of his first tour of 30 operations.

Info from Wikipedia & BBMF website. Photo by myself at RIAT 2017.



I really hope you enjoyed our Portrush aircraft profiles over this past week and I hope you all have a great time this weekend if you are heading up to the North coast. It will be a long trek for me, but one that will be worth it with a fantastic line up!



Portrush Aircraft profile day 4 – RAF Falcons, Swiss Classic Formation & Sea Fury T20

Welcome to Day 4 of our Portrush Aircraft profile which covers the debut of Swiss Classic Flight, an RAF Parachute display team and a fantastic Royal Navy historical aircraft!

First up is the RAF Falcons, the RAF Paracchute display team who will display on the Sunday only.

The RAF Falcons were last in Northern Ireland right here in Newcastle in 2014 and jumped from a Cessna Sky Caravan.

The Falcons are the official parachute team of the RAF and are based at based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team is the only centrally funded, professional, military parachute display team in the UK. Their exciting free fall display, which includes advanced manoeuvres, falling at speeds up to 120mph, and their famous unique non-contact canopy stack manages to captivate all spectators.

While in their display the Falcons will use smoke to light up the skies!



Next up is something new, an exciting debut for the crowds as the Swiss Classic Formation will be bringing their DC3 Dakota and 3 Beech 18 aircraft.

The Dakota

The Dakota that will be in Portrush was built in 1943. The DC3 Dakota revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever produced withseveral examples still flying today.

Civil DC-3 production ended in 1942 at 607 aircraft. Military versions, including the C-47 Skytrain (designated the Dakota in British Royal Air Force (RAF) service), and Russian- and Japanese-built versions, brought total production to over 16,000. Following the war, the airliner market was flooded with surplus C-47s and other ex-military transport aircraft, and Douglas’ attempts to produce an upgraded DC-3 failed due to cost.

Post-war, the DC-3 was made obsolete on main routes by more advanced types such as the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation, but the design proved exceptionally adaptable and useful. Large numbers continue to see service in a wide variety of niche roles well into the 21st century. In 2013 it was estimated that approximately 2,000 DC-3s and military derivatives were still flying, a testament to the durability of the design.

The Beech 18

Flying alongside the Dakota will be 3 Beech 18 aircraft which was first produced in 1937.

During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and “mother ship” for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft

In the early postwar era, the Beech 18 was the pre-eminent “business aircraft” and “feeder airliner.” Besides carrying passengers, its civilian uses have included aerial spraying, sterile insect release, fish seeding, dry-ice cloud seeding, aerial firefighting, air mail delivery, ambulance service, numerous movie productions, skydiving, freight, weapon- and drug-smuggling, engine testbed, skywriting, banner towing, and stunt aircraft. Many are now privately owned, around the world, with 240 in the U.S. still on the FAA Aircraft Registry in August 2017.

Between 1937 and end of production in 1970 over 9000 had been produced.



Finally the Royl Navy – Navy Wings will be bringing their newly restored Sea Fury T20 which under went a 3 year resotration to flight after an engine failure on landing at RNAS Culdrose.

The Sea Fury T.20 is a twin-seat trainer variant of the Sea Fury and, unlike the other aircraft of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, which are all registered on the military register, Sea Fury T.20 G-RNHF (VX281) is owned by the Navy Wings charity (Fly Navy Heritage Trust) and is operated on the civilian register.

The Sea Fury T20 was a fighter trainer and is still used today by the Royal Navy Historic Flight to give Sea Fury display pilots much valued access to a trainer version of this most demanding of aircraft types.

A masterpiece of power and performance, the T20 generates great interest and excitement at air shows around the country augmenting the Flight when Sea Fury FB.11 is unavailable and enhancing the Royal Navy’s core collection of classic historic naval aircraft.



Check back tomorrow when we cover the final 3 Aircraft coming to Airwaves Portrush! Sea Fury picture from Navy wings website)

Portrush Aircraft Profile day 3 – Mig 15, Catalina & Global Stars

A day late, sorry. Time got away from me yesterday. Day 4 coming later today/

Welcome to day 3 of our Airwaves Portrush 2018 preview which will today cover a Soviet fighter jet, a fantsatic aerobatic display team and and a former Canadian Air Force flying boat.

First up, making a welcome return to is the PBY Catalina flying boat.

PBY Catalina G-PBYA ‘Miss Pick-up’ run by the Plane Sailing Air Displays Limited who are based out of Duxford, England.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft.

The Catalina was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions.

G-PBYA – The aircraft that will fly in Portrush was originally ordered for the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Canso. An amphibian, equivalent to the US Navy PBY-5A. It was built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec and was allocated their constructors number CV-283 before adopting the RCAF serial 11005. It was taken on charge by the air force on 27 October 1943 and initially saw service with 9 Squadron.

After the war she entered a period of storage at Moose Jaw before being converted to a freighter in 1948. Since then she has changed hands quite a few times working as a freighter and even as a water bomber in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2004 she was bought by ‘Plane Sailing’ and brought to Duxford and in November of 2004 her registry was changed from C-FNJF to G-PBYA.

The Catalina is operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Limited on behalf of Catalina Aircraft Limited which is made up of a number of shareholders. The enterprise is supported by its own ‘fan club’ – The Catalina Society. The Catalina displayed in Portrush last year. (Photo and information from Catalina Society Website )



Adding some jet power to the display is the Mig 15.

The Norweigen Air Force Historic Squadron preserve, maintain and operate these historic aircraft and work hard to make them fly for many years to come. The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron has established it’s own Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) authorized maintenance organization maintaining the jets.

They have displayed at all major airshows in Norway. In they are building quite a following having attended many shows in recent years. They displayed the Vampire pair last September in Portrush after the Mig 15 had technical issues.

Their experienced technicians are all voluntary, and help with a vast knowledge and expertise. Some are retired Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) technicians with more than 40 years of experience on fighters including, Spitfires, Vampires, T-33, F-84, RF-84, F-86, F-104, F-5, RF-5 and F-16.

This aircraft is a Polish-built SB Lim-2 (MiG-15UTI), produced by WSK-Mielec in 1952. The aircraft is operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron as a representative of the Cold War ‘enemy’.

Following its Polish Air Force service ending in 1990, the aircraft was exported to the USA, and based at Quillayute Airport just outside Forks, Washington. It was again returned to Europe in the summer of 2014. Experienced ex. Polish Air Force MiG-15 engineers carry out the maintenance of the aircraft.

Given the shared border between north-eastern Norway and Russia, and the many encounters between Royal Norwegian Air Force and Soviet aircraft during the Cold War, the Polish MiG is an appropriate addition to the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron.

The aircraft is painted and marked as “RED 18” to represent Russian-Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s MiG-15. He was the first human to journey into outer space in 1961. Before his cosmonaut training Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was stationed close to the Norwegian boarder and only 40 km from the Norwegian city of Kirkenes as a fighter pilot flying the MiG-15.

The prototype MiG-15 first flew 30. December 1947 and was series produced in the USSR between 1949 and 1959 in 13,131 examples. Foreign license production in Poland, Czechoslovakia and China reached about 6,000 examples. Total production of MiG-15 about 18,000 examples built. (Photo from Norwegian Air force Historical Squadron)



And finally the Global Stars will be making their debut at Airwaves Portrush 2018.

The Global Stars are a team of British aerobatic champions past and present flying air shows World over. All aircraft carry the new “dotty smoke” systems adding to the dynamic nature of the air show. The display is very dynamic with a short solo by Mark Jefferies or Tom Cassells (both British Champions) keeping the action right in front of the crowd.

in 2012 the Global Stars were formed by Mark Jefferies with Tom Cassells as his wing-man.

The Global Stars team provide spectacular formation air displays or solo air displays. For 2016 Mark has purchased the very latest, highest performance certified aircraft the EXTRA 330SC. The team have flown many flying displays and air shows around the World in recent years.

Mark Jefferies has achieved great success and worldwide recognition as one of the most accomplished aviators in the UK; including 1st in Zhengzhou 2015 WAM, 3rd in the 2011 WAM, ranked 8th in the World in 2007 and 10th in the World 2009. Nine times British aerobatic champion (Advanced & Unlimited).

Mark bases his Extra 330SC at Little Gransden, Cambridgeshire (ICAO EGMJ) Gransden is a farm strip and has a main grass runway of 810 meters. The airfield is open to visitors either by road or by air. Gransden is the home of the Global Stars and as such, most likely you will find some aerobatic training taking place. Duel training in the Extra 300L or solo competition/air show training in the Extra 300s or 330sc.

The Aircraft

Extra 330sc

Extra 330SC (single competition) is the top of the range awesome aerobatic aircraft with +10/-10 G limits. G-IIHI, it is one of the first of its type to be built, its serial number is 008 and it is entirely in a class of its own. It is fitted with the newly certified Lycoming AE10-580 engine which has been specifically developed for high performance aerobatic aircraft. The engine produces an impressive 320hp (580 cubic inches but only turning at 2700 rpm) which when you consider there is no ground resistance, is quite incredible.

Its maximum diving speed is 418 km/h and it has an incredibly fast roll rate of 420 degrees per second. If the weather conditions are right, the aircraft can be seen to hover and in the right hands, it really does performs manoeuvres that should not be possible!
Mark Jefferies is one of the few pilots that can fly this aircraft to its limits! As well as its sporty paint scheme,

the Extra 330SC has a unique smoke system fitted which enables smoke to be “pulsed” out, offering something different to air show audiences.

With the latest technology cameras fitted to the aircraft, live footage can be transmitted to trackside screens giving the audience a bird’s eye view of the event. Cameras can be fitted anywhere on the aircraft, including inside the cockpit which gives a very interesting perspective of the world. Footage can be given directly to TV news channels to report on and promote the event or can be used later for promotional material.

Extra 300L

The Extra Flugzeugbau EA300 is a two-seat aerobatic monoplane capable of Unlimited category competition. It was designed in 1987 by Walter Extra, an award-winning German aerobatic pilot and built by Extra Flugzeugbau.

Design of the Extra 300 was based on the Extra 230, an early 1980s monoplane having a wing made of wood. The Extra 300 has a welded steel tube fuselage covered in aluminium and fabric.

The mid-set wing has a carbon fiber composite spar and carbon composite skins. A symmetrical airfoil, mounted with a zero angle of incidence, provides equal performance in both upright and inverted flight. The landing gear is fixed taildragger style with composite main legs and fiberglass wheel pants.

The engine is a fuel-injected Lycoming AEIO-540 which produces 300 horsepower (224 kW). The first two-seat Extra 300 made its maiden flight on 6 May 1988 with German type certification following on 16 May 1990. The single seat Extra 300S flew on 4 March 1992. The Extra 300 is stressed for ±10 G with one person on board and ±8 G with two.

Cap 232

The CAP Aviation CAP-23x family is a family of high-performance aircraft designed for competition aerobatics. The CAP 230 airframe was a direct development of the CAP 21 competition single seater strengthened to cope with a 300 hp 6-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-540 engine instead of the 200 hp original 4-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-360.

The CAP 230 was primarily developed in 1985 for the French Air Force. From the basic CAP 21 airframe, trailing edge apex triangular surfaces were added to the basic trapezoidal wing. The CAP 230 keeps a full wooden construction and certified to cope with +10/-10 G-forces. The CAP 231 was developed in 1990.

The fuselage design remained unchanged and only leading edge triangular apex surfaces were added to reduce buffeting during high G pullups. The CAP 231 was world champion in 1990. To increase performance, in 1991, a carbon-fiber wing taken from an EXTRA 260 (thus the -EX name) was adapted to a few CAP 231 airframes.

The CAP 231EX evolved in 1994. While the fuselage construction retained wood, a carbon-fiber wing was specially designed for durability and light weight. The design has won the World Championships in 1998, 2000 and 2007, as well as a number of other national-level competitions. With a roll rate of 420° per second and a climb rate of nearly 3,300 feet per minute, the CAP-232 is still well suited for the aerobatic circuit.



come back tomorrow for yet more aircraft profiles in the lead up to Airwaves Portrush

Portrush aircraft profile day 2 – Huey & Loach, Wildcat Aerobatics and Irish Coast Guard S92

With only a few days before Airwaves Portrush 2018 we continue or Aircraft profile countdown!
First up on day 2 is the Huey and Loach display who have become a very regular fixture in Portrush over the last few years.
The helicopters are most famous for their service in the Vietnam war and both of these helicopters that will be on display actually saw service in Vietnam! They will also be joining the Wildcat on Static when not displaying!
In 2000 The Huey was sent to Arizona for storage until 2003 when it was brought out and underwent a full restoration. It is now the only Huey flying in Europe that served in Vietnam.
The aircraft has been restored back to Vietnam combat livery as it would have appeared with the 129 Assault Helicopter Company. We are working to get a more complete history of the aircraft.
Helicopter OH-6A 69-16011 was manufactured in 1969 and was number 470 off the production line of the Hughes Tool Company. The aircraft was shipped direct to Vietnam where it served in the 20th Transport Company.
The aircraft technical records show that at 250 hours from new on the 17th August 1970 whilst serving in this Unit, the helicopter was on a recon mission and came under fire at a flight level of 100 feet and 80 knots in South Vietnam and took 11 hits from small arms and automatic weapons. The majority of these hits were on the underside of the aircraft causing damage to the fuel system and some aircraft components. Luckily the armour plating proved effective protecting the flight crew and out of the three crew on board, only one was wounded in action.
The work started on the OH-6 in the Summer of 2008 returning the aircraft to its original Vietnam livery. It now flies with the Huey after a full restoration.
Next up is the fantastic Pitts Special Display Team known as Wildcat Aerobatics. The team put on a fantatic display and it will be great to see them again.
Formed in 2010, Wildcat Aerobatics was created with the aim of promoting the amazing world of aerial sport flying and the more extreme elements of the leisure aviation industry.
It does this primarily through the delivery of a crowd-thrilling formation aerobatic display that entertains hundreds of thousands of spectators every year at shows across the length and breadth of the country ranging from large-scale public events to much smaller private celebrations.
The team use the Pitts S2 aircraft. The S2 has been used by teams in the US, Europe, Africa and the Far East and is a proven air display favourite. The biplane has a special appeal to airshow crowds and has been displaying in various guises since it’s unveiling at Homestead, Florida in 1946.
In addition, as a minor part of the overall activity of the team, Wildcat Aerobatics also provides introductory flights to people eager to experience the thrills of flying formation aerobatics. Through these exclusive activities, we aim to promote the team, its sponsors and attract new pilots to this most demanding and exciting of extreme sports.
Our final profile for today is the Irish Coast Guard S92 helicopter, The Sikorsky S-92 is a four-bladed twin-engine medium-lift helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the civil and military helicopter market. The S-92 was developed from the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter and has similar parts such as flight control and rotor systems.
The Irish Coast Guard had previously used the S61 Helicopter until replacing them with the S92. The first S92 was delivered to them in January 2012 and given the registration EI-ICG with the callsign ‘Rescue 115’
The S92 Search and Rescue Demo is very popular at seaside airshows throughout Ireland, North and South and is a regular attendee. This year the S92 will be displaying on Saturday only!
Check back tomorrow for another aircraft profile in the run up to Airwaves Portrush.

Portrush Aircraft Profiles day 1 – Auto Gyro, Grob Tutor & Aerobatic Glider

Portrush Aircraft Profiles day 1 – Auto Gyro, Grob Tutor & Aerobatic Glider

The 17th annual Airwaves Portrush airshow once again returns this weekend (1st & 2nd of September) to close the 2018 airshow season throughout the island of Ireland and is packed full of fantastic displays, some of which have not been seen in the skies of Portrush before.

Returning to Portrush, having become a regular over the years is the AutoGyro from Gyro Air Displays who have been granted a crowd line exemption in 2017 to come closer to the crowd than most displays.

Autogyro’s were invented by Juan de la Cierva, only 20 years after the Wright Brothers first flight, they marked a departure from conventional fixed wing aircraft in an attempt to invent an aircraft that couldn’t stall. The name autogiro was a Trade name for Cierva’s make of aircraft, nowadays, they are also known as gyrocopters, gyroplanes, and autogyro’s and just Gyro’s, they were the first rotary wing aircraft to fly successfully under full, safe control.

The pilot, Peter Davies has been flying for 33 years, and been flying Gyroplanes for 23 years. First issued a Gyroplane Display Authority (DA) in 1991. Peter became an Display Authority Evaluator (DAE) in 2012. Has displayed aircraft at several major shows including – Paris Air Show, Biggin Hill, Farnborough, Blackpool and Manchester.

The most simplistic view of the AutoGyro is that it’s a flying windmill or even a rotating parachute, think of a sycamore seed gently floating down as it spins.


Also returning to Portrush, having displayed last year is the RAF Grob Tutor display. The Tutor is used for training cadets througout the Armed forces and the display this year is operated by No 6 Flying School. The 2017 RAF Tutor Display Pilot is Flight Lieutenant Andy Sell

The Tutor is constructed mainly from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which combines high strength with light weight. Like its predecessor, the Bulldog, the Tutor has side-by-side seating but, unlike the Bulldog, the primary flight instruments are on the right-hand side of the cockpit. This allows the student to fly the aircraft from the right-hand seat with a right-hand stick and a left-hand throttle so that future transition to fast-jet aircraft is made easier.




Another aircraft Returning to Portrush is the Aerobatic Glider The aircraft will be coming from the Ulster Gliding Club who are based in Limavady.
Gliders use the same air currents that birds use and they have been designed with aerodynamic efficiency that enables top speeds of up to 170 mph. Distances of over 200 miles have been covered from Bellarena in one day and heights in excess of 20,000 feet have been achieved




The Glider photo is not our own, from the Ulster Gliding Club/Airwaves Portrush page.

Check back tomorrow for more aircraft profiles in the lead up to Airwaves Portrush 2018!