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Torbay Airshow 2019
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Riviera Guy

Joined: 12 Aug 2018
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:04 am    Post subject: Torbay Airshow 2019 Reply with quote

The Torbay Airshow was held on the 1st and 2nd June 2019 at Paignton – now in its fourth year. It was very much a weekend of extremes as far as the weather was concerned – on Saturday, the sun shone, blue skies and it was perfect air show weather for the massive crowd on the beach and promenade.

However, Sunday was a different story – very low cloud – less than 500 feet - and intermittent rain ruined the day with only the Red Arrows managing two brief formations before disappearing into the murk and to call the display off and head back to Exeter Airport. The Chinook was the only other aircraft managing to put on a display for what was a very small crowd – obviously they had looked at the weather forecast! The Westland Wildcat of the Black Cats then flew in to survey the conditions, and decided that there would be no more flying for the day.

On Saturday, the day opened with the Twirlybatics – a single Pitts Special S-1S flown by Corinne Dennis from Cornwall. Not only one of the UK’s leading female aerobatics pilots, she also built the plane herself, completing it in 2015. The plane has a top speed of 176mph.

This was followed up by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. This comprised of the Douglas Dakota ZA947 and a Spitfire – the Mark MkXVIe TE311 – distinguished by its clipped wings and bubble canopy. This plane was acquired in 2002 and initially allocated for spares, but officially added to the BBMF collection in 2007.

In recognition of the Polish pilots who flew with the RAF in WW2, for the 2017 season, TE311, was due to be repainted to represent TD240. This was the personal aircraft of the Commanding Officer of No 131 ((Polish) Wing, Group Captain Aleksander Gabszewicz VM KW DSO DFC, from April 1945 until he left the Wing in mid-June 1945. However, due to workloads at Coningsby, it completed the 2017 season in black primer! However, it is now resplendent in its new colour scheme and looks amazing.

Next up were the stars of the show - the Red Arrows. They only received Public Display Authority (PDA) on Wednesday and flew in from France to their temporary base at Exeter Airport on Friday morning. Because of intensive training at the Hellenic Air Force base of Tanagra, Greece they had not been at home for 6 weeks. The display marked their first of the 2019 season – the 55th and one of their busiest ever seasons, and will culminate in a tour of North America.

The crowds were then treated to the aerobatics of the Chinook CH47. It is incredible how agile this enormous, versatile helicopter is. A true work horse and plays a vital role in supporting combat troops.

There was a brief interlude from the flying displays when the Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team dropped in landing in the water just off the beach beside Paignton Pier.

Next up was the Tucano T1 which is the RAF’s basic fast jet trainer. Flown by 72 Sqn with No. 1 Flying Training School (FTS), at Royal Air Force Linton-on-Ouse. The Tucano T1 combines the economy of turboprop power with jet-like handling. Students come to the Tucano from the Tutor and progress onto the Hawk T2, but from 2019 the Tucano will be replaced, and the fast jet training progression will be Prefect, Texan II, Hawk T2.

The Black Cats Helicopter Display Team then took to the skies. Although often displayed as a pair, this time, just a single Westland Wildcat HMA2 was put through its paces. The aircrew and engineers are all volunteers from 825 Naval Air Squadron and the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force based at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset.

An old favourite from previous Torbay Airshows was next in front of the crowds lining the promenade – the ex Omani Air Force Strikemaster 82A flown by Mark Petrie. Although old technology as far as fast jets go, developed in 1967, it still makes a great sight flashing across the sky, capable of a top speed of 515mph. A thirsty beast, it consumes 1,200 litres of fuel an hour. The “Strikey” is still used operationally by the Ecuador Air Force. Ex RAF pilot Mark flies a Boeing 787 for his day job.

The Blades were next in the skies. Formed in 2006, the four pilots are all ex Red Arrows. They fly the Extra E-A300. The Team became Champions of the World at the Formation Aerobatic Challenge in China 2017. Their display takes certain cues from their high speed cousins, the Red Arrows, but at slower speeds. A great display of very close formation manoeuvres and passes. All are highly experienced pilots – Mike Ling - Blade 3 - Longest serving RAF Red Arrows pilot; Gerald Cooper – Blade 4 - Highest ever World Ranked British Aerobatic Pilot; Ben Murphy – Blade 2 - Best ever first season result for a rookie in the Red Bull Air Race Master Class series in 2018.

The final plane on parade was the Typhoon FGR4. Simply awesome! With a top speed of Mach 1.8, blink and it is gone! If you struggle to spot it in the sky, you know it is around because of the noise. The pilot for this season - Flt Lt Jim Peterson - put the plane through its paces, including a slow speed, “dirty pass” with its under carriage down giving the crowds an opportunity to get a good look. The display ends when Jim points the nose upwards, and in a split second, it vanishes into the atmosphere, like a rocket being launched. The commentator told the crowd that Jim would have a very big smile on his face – I bet he did.... and so did the crowd!

Hopefully the Torbay Airshow will be back again in 2020.

For a selection of my pics from the event, please visit my Flickr album:
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