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Husky Airways

Day of the Canards

We interrupt the travelogue to say that this weekend was the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. I went on the Saturday, meeting up with RIAT stalwarts silverwindblade, Zee and Anna as well as the welcome addition of wardy.

Star of SwitzerlandI left home a few minutes after 7AM and was on the airfield shortly after 9:30, having parked my bike by the gate where it had a nice view of the Red Arrows. With time to spare before the flying started, I browsed the stalls and queued to look round an immaculate Super Constellation (pictured here with bonus Vulcan), now owned by Breitling and run by the Swiss.

The flying programme was packed: seven and a half hours of it, all enthralling. RIAT always provides a chance to see both unusual aircraft and unusual combinations of aircraft, and we were not disappointed. There was a Gloster Meteor - I've never seen one fly before, although its distinctive shape was familiar from museums and models. Continuing the Jet Age theme, a Canberra in the static park had flown in that morning, having gained its certificate of airworthiness just a couple of days previously; I look forward to seeing it display next year.

Lancaster and TornadoPerennial crowd-pleasers were the Vulcan and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster. It was particularly lovely to see the Lanc flying in company with a Tornado from 617 (Dambuster) Squadron, commemorating the raid.

Plenty of treats for those who, like me, appreciate a good canard foreplane, with a French Dassault Rafale, Swedish and Hungarian Gripens, and Eurofighter Typhoons from the UK and Italy. These last took off in quick succession, punching into the cloud at a steep angle with afterburners blazing, and later gave us a little in-flight refuelling demonstration. Superb.

The weather wasn't quite as scorching as I'd hoped, with some cloud cover, and there were times when I was too cold in my shorts and sandals. But after the last few years, when waterproof trousers have been the norm and the display has been disrupted or even cancelled due to poor conditions, I wasn't going to complain.

BBMF Flight refuelling


Looks like it was a good day. Did you catch last night's C4 programme about the Mosquito?
Yes! Liked it very much.
...though the old video of the previous last-flying plane falling out of the sky was sobering...
Yes, golly. And these things still happen. But it would be silly to pretend otherwise, and downright annoying to stop old warbirds flying on the strength of it.
It was interesting hearing one of the veteran pilots saying you had to give it lots of power and keep a firm grip on the controls or the plane would do its best to kill you. Watching that video in the light of that comment, I did wonder whether the pilot had been told to be gentle with the old bird...