Pirates of Culdrose

Lewis Gaylard reports from England’s most Westerly air show, the RNAS Culdrose Air Day 2013. All images by the author.

11 days later it was the turn of Yeovilton’s sister base in Cornwall, RNAS Culdrose, to open its arms to the public. After a year’s absence it was fitting Culdrose returned in this 60th year of Royal Navy Search and Rescue (SAR).

Despite the unfavourable weather, a large crowd of holidaymakers and enthusiasts witnessed what was a most enjoyable airshow. On static display was nice mix of modern and vintage aircraft which included a German Navy Sea King MK 41 from Marinefliegergeschwader 5, a rare appearance of a Dutch Navy NHIndustries NH90, a Dutch Air Force AH-64D Apache and a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina from the Catalina Society.

Although the RAF pulled a couple of display aircraft due to operational requirements, they did however delight the crowd by sending a 15 Sqn Panavia Tornado GR4 and a 6 Sqn Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4, which performed a couple of circuits before taking its place in the ‘live static’.

[img src=6781 align=full]The air display commenced with a salvo of Culdrose based aircraft which consisted of AgustaWestland Merlin HM1 and the new HM2, Westland Sea King ASaC Mk7 and MK5 along with a four-ship formation of 736 NAS Hawk T1As.

Amongst the many excellent displays were a couple of real gems. The Dutch Apache Demo team, having charmed the crowd on the ground with their static aircraft and trailer, put on a terrific display which, accompanied by many flare releases, was quite spectacular with many roles, loops and ‘hammerhead’ turns.

[img src=6787 align=left]With the sad cancellation of a display by the RAF ‘Red Arrows’ due to the low cloud base the crowd was thrilled by the explosive arrival of an old FAA legend. Making its 1st air display appearance of the season, the mighty deHavilland Sea Vixen FAW2 roared into the display circuit and in the hands of Matt Whitfield it performed a powerful display.

Amongst the other displays was the Vietnam veteran Bell UH-1 or ‘Huey’ which was dramatically displayed, Gloster Meteor T7 of the Classic Air Force, a Westland Wasp HAS1, flown by John Beattie in his second display of the day, the Blades Display Team and the Breitling Wing Walkers.

The airshow finished with Culdrose based aircraft performing an Anti-Piracy Demo which included a Sea King ASaC7, Merlin HM1 and some ‘Swashbuckling’ Pirates! Well done to all those who helped to produce two very different but highly entertaining air displays.

[img src=6788 align=full]

Posted in Features