Former RAF Kemble, recently renamed the Cotswold Airport has been linked with classic jet flying for a number of years thanks to a number of resident operators such as Delta Jets. With the demise of this classic jet operator, the Cotswold Airshow has pulled out the stops to provide one of the top airshows in the UK. This years event celebrates 60 years of the Hawker Hunter in style, and with Kemble being the spiritual home of this iconic jet, it is the perfect venue!
If it looks right it'll fly right...
One of Sir Sydney Cams (famous for the Hurricane) masterpieces, the Hawker Hunter can trace its family tree back to the Hawker Sea Hawk. In particular a swept wing version of the Sea Hawk known as the P.1052 which, is now resides in the Fleet Air Arm Museum storage facility at Cobham Hall. The first real Hawker Hunter prototype flew as the P.1067 on the 20th July 1951 from RAF Boscombe Down.
Immediately a success story, the Hawker Hunter went on to fly with no less than 23 different countries totalling a production run of well on 1,900 aircraft. 60 Years after this aircraft first flew, variants of the Hunter are still in active military service in Lebanon and are used for a number of private military training contracts around the world. Particularly in the UK and USA. It is therefore a reasonable statement that the Hawker Hunter was the greatest jet fighter Britain has ever produced.
So why is Kemble the perfect place to celebrate this illustrious fighter? Well for many years, Kemble has been home to Delta Jets who, until recently operated a fleet of privately owned Hunters from the airfield. However, going back further in time, from 1954 up until the 1980's, nearly every Hunter produced for the RAF or the Royal Navy passed through the airfield for maintenance/delivery work.
It was only right that the Cotswold Airshow tipped its hat to this aircraft. Not only were there superb solo displays by Miss Demeanor, the very colourful Hunter owned by Jon Whaley but also the debut display of Team Viper who have recently converted to a full Hunter display.
However, this was all overshadowed by the finale of the show, no less than 8 Hunters in formation, a feet that has not been seen for many years!
Flying Legends of the Jet Age
With the austerity measures biting hard in the UK, there are far less military displays available to go around which, seems to have troubled a number of shows this year but not the Cotswold Airshow.
Kemble managed to have a full flying display packed full of classic jets, ranging from Meteors to Gnats to the mighty Vulcan! The Cotswold Airshow proved to the enthusiast community that you can have an airshow with less RAF participation.
This was completed to such an extent that whilst the "Flying Legends" airshow is always held at Duxford; it is for warbirds only... The Cotswold Airshow can be safely be called the Jet Age Flying Legends!
Variety for the Masses
Being a two day show, it is difficult to attract people back for two days when your display has the same displays. Perhaps a leaf should be taken from Kemble's book for other shows? On the first day, there was the spectacle of the mighty Vulcan where on the second day, this was replaced by an increased RAF presence from the Red Arrows and the Tornado GR4 demo team.
Don't forget the Boys in Blue
No UK airshow would be complete without some form of participation from the RAF, even in the days of crushing cuts! Appearing both days of the show were the two mainstays of the scene in the shape of the Hawk and Tucano displays. This Tucano this year is very striking in a silver and blue scheme made all the more visible with a closer than usual display. Even the BBMF got in on act with a display from the Dakota and Spitfire. On the second day, they were joined by the rest of the RAF display fleet which tried their best to provide value for money to the present crowds.
The Cotswold Airshow has now cemented itself as a "must see" airshow in the calendar. It is arguably one of the top five annual shows in the UK along with RIAT, Waddington, Leuchars and Flying Legends.
Whilst Kemble can continue to attract classic jets en masse, then this show will continue to grown from strength to strength.
RIAT 2011 will take place on the week of Wednesday 13th July to Monday 18th July. I've already got my FRIAT ticket, and hope to see you there too!
If you would like more information on the Cotswold Airshow, please visit www.costwoldairshow.com . There are 40+ photos from this event in our Gallery, please feel free to check them out. Andy Evans would like to thank everyone at Kemble for a job well done and for Paul at UKAR for being an excellent host!