Today is the penultimate day of our Airwaves Portrush 2017 preview and focus now moves to the aircraft most people want to see, the fast and loud jets that will be roaring around the East strand of Portrush in just 2 days time. Today will feature a Soviet Cold War era jet and the worlds most famous aerobatic display team.
First up is the Mig 15 from the Norweigen Air Force Historic Squadron.
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)
Our next display is one of, if not the most famous aerobatic display team, the RAF Red Arrows who have been at every Portrush show with the exception of 2011 after an accident in England saw the Red Arrows sadly lose one of its pilots which paused Red Arrows displays.
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.
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.
Also a special mention to Red 10 Mike Ling who is sadly in his final year in the Red 10 position, and therefore this will be his last trip to Portrush this weekend. He has been great as the voice of the Red Arrows over the years. (Photo our own)
Tomorrow finishes our Portrush preview with the very loud Eurofighter Typhoon display from the RAF.