Portrush Aircraft profile day 9 (part 1) Wildcat Aerobatics

Day 9 (part 1) of our Portrush aircraft profile are the Wildcat aerobatics team who are making their Portrush, and Northern Ireland debut this weekend!

The Wildcat Team

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.

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.

Over the years, the team has developed a unique and excitingly choreographed airshow act that brings together unbelievably close-formation aerobatics with precision pairs synchronized flying. The display fleet is made up of a pair of iconic Pitts Special biplanes: proven crowd pleasers for over 65 years!

The Wildcat Pitts Special

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.

The aircraft was designed and built by aircraft engineer and keen aerobatic pilot Curtis Pitts – it proved to be so popular that it has been in constant production to this day, the factory now resides in Afton, Wyoming and in addition to building and supporting the S2 Pitts, they manufacture the Aviat Huskey.

The Pitts Special is the world’s leading high performance aerobatic biplane. In the USA the Pitts Special has won more unlimited-class aerobatic contests than any other aircraft type.

Some pilots think about flying airplanes almost every day. They make imaginary flights while driving their car or even at their desk and sometimes imagining can seem better than actually flying but never in a Pitts! It’s an experience that’s almost impossible to describe.

Check back later for another Portrush aircraft profile.

Info from Wildcats website & photo from Airwaves Portrush

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Portrush Aircraft Profile day 8 part 2 – OV10 Bronco

Day 8 Part 2 of our Portrush Aircraft profile is the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco from the Bronco display team. Who are returning to Portrush having last displayed there in 2014

About the Bronco Display Team

The main goal of the OV-10 Bronco Demo Team is to show the Bronco to the public. The Team is available for aviation events both static and flying displays throughout Europe. During the past years the aircraft was displayed at various events from Scotland to the Czech Republic where thousands of people enjoyed the sight and sound of this unique aircraft.

The OV-10B Bronco Demo Team is a group of enthusiastic people who aim to represent the unique aircraft-type to the public. Based at Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport in Belgium, they are centrally located in the hearth of Europe.

The Pilot

The OV-10 Bronco display pilot, Tony De Bruyn, is the driving force behind the project. Passionate about aviation since his early boyhood, Tony has been professionally involved in aviation since leaving school. A CPL(A) holder with over 4000 flying hours to his credit, he loves displaying the Bronco showing the airplane to it’s best advantage; a rugged STOL performer with awesome agility and fully aerobatic.

The Aircraft

The North American Aviation Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s for counter insurgency (COIN) combat. One of its primary missions was as a forward air control (FAC) aircraft in the Vietnam War.

The aircraft was initially conceived in the early 1960s through an informal collaboration between WH Beckett and Colonel KP Rice, U.S. Marine Corps, who met at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, and who also happened to live near each other.

The original concept was for a rugged, simple, close air support aircraft integrated with forward ground operations. At the time, the U.S. Army was still experimenting with armed helicopters, and the U.S. Air Force was not interested in close air support.

The OV-10 has a central nacelle containing pilots and cargo, and twin booms containing twin turboprop engines. The visually distinctive item of the aircraft is the combination of the twin booms, with the horizontal stabilizer that connects them.

The OV-10 served in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy, as well as in the service of a number of other countries. A total of 81 OV-10 Broncos were ultimately lost to all causes during the course of the Vietnam War, with the Air Force losing 64, the Navy 7 and the Marines 10.

NASA has used a number of Broncos for various research programs, including studies of low speed flight carried out with the third prototype in the 1970s, and studies on noise and wake turbulence.

One OV-10 remained in use at NASA’s Langley base in 2009 with 3 additional aircraft obtained from the Department of State formerly used in drug eradication efforts.

Information from Wikipedia and Bronco display team and photo from Bronco Display Team.

Check back later today for yet another Portrush Aircraft profile.

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Portrush Aircraft Profile day 8 – Sioux & Scout Helicopters

Day 8 of our Portrush Aircraft profile is the Historic Aircraft Flight Agusta-Bell Sioux AH Mk1 & Westland Scout AH Mk1 helicopters.

About the Historic Aircraft Flight

Formed in 1980, the AHAF were permitted to maintain one example of of each aircraft that the Army Air Corps operated since the formation of the new Corps on 1 September 1957. The six different AHAF aircraft types had a combined regular service of 146 years and it was unique by being the only display team in the world to fly both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

On 1st February 2015 five of the aircraft from the Army Historic Aircraft Flight (AHAF) were gifted and formally handed over to the Historic Aircraft Flight Trust. They will remain at their current location at the Army Aviation Centre, Middle Wallop, Hampshire.

Five of the aircraft, less the Chipmunk T10, are now registered with the civil register

Agusta-Bell Sioux AH Mk1

The Bell H-13 Sioux was a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter built by Bell Helicopter. Westland Aircraft manufactured the Sioux under license for the British military as the Sioux AH.1 and HT.2.

In 1947, the United States Army Air Forces (later the United States Air Force) ordered the improved Bell Model 47A. Most were designated YR-13 and three winterized versions were designated YR-13A. The United States Army first ordered Bell 47s in 1948 under the designation H-13. These would later receive the name Sioux.

The Bell 47 was ordered by the British Army as the Sioux to meet specification H.240, with licensed production by Westland Helicopters. In order to comply with the terms of its licence agreement with Sikorsky Aircraft, which prevented it building a U.S. competitors aircraft, Westland licensed the Model 47 from Agusta, who had purchased a license from Bell.

The first contract was for 200 helicopters. The first 50 helicopters of the contract were built by Agusta at Gallarate in Italy followed by 150 built by Westland at Yeovil. The first Westland Sioux made its maiden flight on 9 March 1965.

The Sioux is a three-seat observation and basic training helicopter. In 1953 the Bell 47G design was introduced. It can be recognized by the full “soap bubble” canopy (as its designer Arthur M. Young termed it) exposed welded-tube tail boom, saddle fuel tanks and skid landing gear. In its UH-13J version, based on the Bell 47J, it had a metal-clad tail boom and fuselage and an enclosed cockpit and cabin.

Westland Scout AH Mk1

The Westland Scout was a light helicopter developed by Westland Helicopters. Developed from the Saro P.531, it served as a land-based general purpose military helicopter, sharing a common ancestor and numerous components with the naval-orientated Westland Wasp helicopter.

The type’s primary operator was the Army Air Corps of the British Army, who operated it in several conflict zones including Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. It was progressively replaced in British service by the Westland Gazelle reconnaissance helicopter, and the larger Westland Lynx battlefield utility helicopter.

Both the Scout and the Wasp were developed from the Saunders-Roe P.531, itself a development of the Saunders-Roe Skeeter. With the acquisition of Saunders Roe, Westland took over the P.531 project, which became the prototype for the Scout (originally called Sprite) and the Wasp. The initial UK Ministry of Defence(MoD) development contract was for a 5 to 6 seat general purpose helicopter.[1]

The first version that met both RN and Army requirement, the P.531-2, flew on 9 August 1959 with a Bristol Siddeley Nimbus engine. A de Havilland Gnome engine-equipped version was also trialled, starting 3 May 1960.

The production Scout AH.1 used a Rolls-Royce Nimbus engine (RR having acquired Bristol Siddeley by then). The engine was rated at 1,050 shp (780 kW), but the torque was limited to 685 shp (511 kW).

Extensive theoretical design and practical testing was carried out to provide an undercarriage that was tolerant to ground resonance. The first Army Scout AH Mk 1 flew on 4 August 1960, a powered-controls version followed in March 1961 and deliveries started in early 1963.
Following trials ranging from Canada to Nairobi, the airframe was released for operations between -26C and ISA+30C

In Northern Ireland, the Scout pioneered the use of the Heli-Tele aerial surveillance system, having a gyro-stabilised Marconi unit shoe-horned into the rear cabin. The Heli-Tele unit weighed some 700 lb (320 kg), although later developments reduced this significantly.

The aircraft was also used for mounting Eagle patrols. In this role, the rear cabin doors and seats were removed and four troops sat in the rear cabin with their feet resting on the skids. Operating with two aircraft in unison, this allowed an eight-man patrol to be quickly inserted into an area and mount snap Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) if necessary. Up until 1973, the standard tail rotor colour scheme for the Scout was bands of red and white.

On 14 September 1973, a soldier died during training at Gosford Castle, Armagh, after coming into contact with the tail rotor blades whilst the aircraft was on the ground. Following this accident, the tail rotor blade colour scheme was changed to the distinctive black and white bands.

Because of the specialist nature of operations in Northern Ireland, a particularly important piece of role equipment was introduced in the form of the ‘Nightsun’ 3.5 million candle power searchlight. Operations at night were greatly enhanced with the introduction of Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), although these missions could still be hazardous.

This was evident on the night of 2 December 1978, when the pilot of XW614, 659 Sqn, became disorientated during a sortie and crashed into Lough Ross, killing the two crew.XW614 was the last of five Scouts written off during operations in the Province.

Info from Historic Aircraft Flight website and Wikipedia and photo from Airwaves Portrush.

Check back tomorrow for two Portrush Aircraft profiles as we get ever closer to Portrush.

Northern Ireland & Ireland Airshows's photo.
Northern Ireland & Ireland Airshows's photo.

Portrush Aircraft profile day 7 – Aerosparx

Day 7 of our Portrush Aircraft profile is the rather unique Aerosparx display team that will ‘ Light up’ Portrush & Portstewart this coming weekend.

While Aerosparx will be doing displays on both days of Portrush, they will also be doing a special night time display at Portstewart on the Saturday night.

Aerosparx are a brand new team who are set to revolutionize the air-show world with a number of new and exciting innovations! Carving through the sky with smooth and graceful aerobatic maneuvers and showcasing the best of our big wings, quality formation flying and spectacular wing-tip pyrotechnics, Aerosparx will paint a remarkable picture in the sky for the crowds in attendance!

The motor gliders we use will be familiar to many British cadets, as the RAF have used the Grob109 as a training aircraft since 1980s. The big wings provide an impressive level of glide performance, and the airbrakes offer excellent landing control.

The team brings together 2 extraordinary world renowned pilots for its first year, Team Leader, Guy Westgate is famous for introducing his dazzling pyrotechnic displays into the UK and thrilling crowds across Europe in his stunt glider, the GliderFX Fox. Tim Dews, is better known in Britain as ‘Mr Grob’, having run a successful business maintaining the aircraft since 1986, and is fast becoming recognized on the circuit as an accomplished display pilot.

The AeroSPARX daytime display is a graceful ballet with 2 motorgliders carving smooth swoops across the sky. This display is sure to ‘wow’ the crowds as the aircraft are often only a few feet apart as they maneuver across the skyline. The evening display adds a sparkle, with wingtip pyrotechnics and the best LED light show in the business.

The Grob is unique amongst airshow types, as it has a special clearance to fly at night. Pyrotechnics are quite unique and special in the half-light of twilight, but at night they really come alive and you can truly appreciate their majestic nature.

Flying with fireworks is not new, but the AeroSPARX team brings together several innovations not seen before at airshow flying displays in Europe.

The wingtip pyrotechnics have taken 5 years of careful development. They are all hand crafted for reliability and consistency and we have a selection of different effects to choose from, to help control the history and trail of sparks, giving the team the unique ability to perform anywhere.

We are also leading the industry with innovations that enable us to fly our formation firework display at night, and coordinate ground-based fireworks with a flying display.

The team are always keen to harness and incorporate the latest technology into their display, and LED Lighting is no exception. The continuing progression of LED Lighting, now means that computers can control each LED colour independently across the aircraft. We also have 12,000 LED lenses over the fuselage and wings, providing an incredible spectacle of ‘painting with light’ for the crowds in attendance to enjoy.

Grob 109 Motor Glider

The Grob109 is a super-efficient motor glider, with impressive soaring capabilities is used in many fields and is a very capable training aircraft. Which has been developed into the perfect day and night aerobatic display vehicle. The Aircraft has a range of 550nm and can fly for 7 hours.

Check back tomorrow for another aircraft profile, information and photo from Aerosparx website.

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Portrush aircraft profile day 6 – BBMF Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane

Day 6 (and a day late) of our Portrush aircraft profile are the aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) who have been regulars at Portrush over the years!

As you know, the Lancaster was due to return to Portrush last year, however an engine fire had grounded the aircraft until after the Portrush show.

But this year Portrush will see the BBMF Lancaster ‘Thumper’ return and bring with her the BBMF Spitfire & the BBMF Hurricane.


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 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 – 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”, a Lancaster that flew 121 sorties (a so-called “ton-up” Lancaster).

Originally assigned to 100 Squadron in June 1943, the original “Phantom” was transferred to 101 Squadron in November that year and finished the war as part of 550 Squadron at Ludford Magna.

The Lancaster currently carries the markings of ‘Thumper’ for the 2014 display season, an aircraft which served with No 617 Squadron after the Dams Raid. Some of the specially-modified Lancasters, which survived the Dams Raid, remained in service with the squadron afterwards.

However, these aircraft were not suitable for all operations and they were replaced with standard Lancasters, one example being B Mk1 DV385. PA474 displays the markings of bombs for operations over Germany, ice-cream cones for operations over Italy and poppies when she releases poppies during exhibition flights. During the 2008 RAF Waddington Air Day, PA474 was flown in formation with the recently restored Avro Vulcan XH558 in a historic display of two Avro “heavy metal” classics.

Info from Wikipedia & BBMF website. Photo from ourselves at Newcastle 2016

Check back later today for another Portrush aircraft profile

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Portrush aircraft profile day 5 – Huey & Loach

Day 5 of our Portrush aircraft profile is the Helicopter Duo the Huey and Loach, who will display both days of Air Waves Portrush and on Sunday will close the show with the traditional Poppy drop.


This was manufactured by the Bell Helicopter Company in 1972, and purchased by the US Army in the same year where it served in Vietnam until 1973. The move to the United Kingdom is the start of another adventure for this famous flying machine,” The Huey”.
In 2000 it 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.

After finishing service it changed hands before being put into storage.

Phil Connolly found the unit in storage in Seattle and having conducted the research with the aircraft records regarding the battle damage in 1970 he decided it would be the ideal fit into his helicopter activities and business in the UK.

Phil’s decision at this time was to return OH-6A 69-10611 back to its original US Army livery which was quite an involved project and the interesting part of this was when the civilian paint scheme on the aircraft was removed it uncovered all the battle scars from its early life in Vietnam displaying a multitude of bullet holes and patches which had been put on the same at the Hughes Tool Company.

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.

Check back on Monday for another aircraft profile for Portrush!

Northern Ireland & Ireland Airshows's photo.
Northern Ireland & Ireland Airshows's photo.

Portrush aircraft profile day 4 – S92

Day 4 of our Portrush Aircraft profile is the Irish Coast Guard S92 helicopter that will be doing the search and rescue display on the Sunday only.

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 S-92 features an active vibration control system, using vibration sensors and structurally mounted force generators to increase flight comfort and lower acoustic levels to below certification requirements.

A 2008 study by Norway’s Flymedisinsk Institute found that the S-92’s vibration levels were 42 percent above that of the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma; Sikorsky disputed this finding, saying that the study hadn’t used their latest anti-vibration technology.[14] In February 2011, the noise and vibration levels were reportedly subject to health concerns, allegedly causing tinnitus and heart problems.

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 five S-92’s have registrations EI-ICG, EI-ICU, EI-ICA, EI-ICR, EI-ICD – with the last letter of each registration spelling out “GUARD”

While EI-ICG was delivered as “factory new” from Sikorsky in the US, the other S-92 aircraft are ex-UK Coastguard equipment.

As of July 2013, the final S-92 aircraft, with registration EI-ICD, was reportedly undergoing repainting and fitting at Shannon. However as of October 2013 two of the S-92 aircraft (EI-ICD and EI-ICU) remain in the “retro” livery of the UK Coastguard – but sporting their Irish registrations.

Information from Wikipedia and photograph from AirshowsNI admin taken at the 2015 Newcastle Festival of Flight.

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