It's a Family Affair!
During Friday 11th and Saturday 12th June 2010, RAF Coningsby
opened its gates to select members of the public. Whilst the Saturday was the
regular Friends and Families event where (as the name suggests) service men and
women invite close friends and relations to a private airshow; Friday recognised
the air enthusiast as the base allowed 500 photographers on to the airfield.
We got that Friday feeling!
Friday was billed as an "Enthusiasts Day" where the base would open its doors to the select and lucky few who belonged to some of the biggest aviation groups in the country and had won tickets.
Those lucky few arrived to find 29(R) Squadrons hanger open with a number of displays from the bases squadrons and aircraft to crawl all over. In addition to this, a static line-up was available to photograph considering one of every Squadron and type with a few visitors from other airfields. Photographic opportunities were very good with the provision of aircraft stairs at regular intervals allowing for various angles to be used.
Due to the layout of the crowd enclosure, visiting aircraft for the subsequent Families day had no choice but to taxi past and park in the static line-up allowing for further opportunities to get "that shot". These visitors included a HHA Hunter and a pair for F-15C's from RAF Lakenheath.
Where's the flying?
One noticeable item that was missing from the enthusiasts day was any flying! As the gates opened, the number of operational missions dropped off significantly and there were no displays for the crowds. Even when the Hunter wanted to practice its display, it was forced to fly to Scampton to display! The author was told that the reason was that the base had not taken out insurance to allow flying whilst "the public" were on the airfield! Which, considering their was a full air display occurring the following day was a little strange! This was made all the more irritating as the sun shone bright!
Saturdays event benefited from coinciding with the Queens Birthday Flypast which, the base was participating in. This allowed for a launch of three Typhoons to perform a number of flypasts. Not only together but two aircraft returned in formation with the legendary VC-10. Perhaps a missed opportunity came in the form of a pair of Tornado F3's from RAF Leuchars who waited in the overhead at 10,000ft for the Typhoon's to launch before heading to London. They then performed a joint flypast over RAF Halton, but not Coningsby!
Whilst the BBMF had a very limited showing, the based Typhoon display through itself round the sky whilst the RAF Harrier GR9 display performed its unique hover dance for the crowds. The main display ended with the ever popular Blades making an appearance.
A big thank you must go out to RAF Coningsby for providing an event for enthusiasts and acknowledging their presence. Maybe we could have this excellent event next year again please? Perhaps with some flying too? Please?
Andy Evans and John Featherstone would like to thank On Target Aviation, AeroResource/Fighter Control and RAF Coningsby for the photographic opportunities during the weekend. To see Andy's photo's from the event, checkout his Gallery!