RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day is always one of the highlights of the year for me. Thanks to mostly to the Royal Navy, for its huge part of the event. This event includes perhaps one of the best known “finales” on the circuit and often has a surprise under their belt too!
Yeovilton Air Day 2014 though proved to struggle this year. July is becoming increasingly popular for air shows around the country, and while Yeovilton avoided its usual clash with Duxford, the change of date did mean the event clashed with the Sunderland International Air show and East Fortune’s air show in Scotland instead! This had a big affect on local displays at Yeovilton, as there were no Royal Air Force display assets available since they were all supporting events in Scotland and North East England that weekend. However, the RAF did still appear with the Merlin HC3A on static and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 did do a fly past along the crowd line. Saying that, Yeovilton did had a very credible line-up from the Royal Navy, Foreign Military and Civilian participants and the great weather ensured the event attracted a good crowd.
This year had 2 of my favourite classic jets flying, the Hawker Hunter! A Special mention should be made of Jonathon Whaley and his Hawker Hunter F58a Miss Demeanour. Drafted in to replace the Sea Vixen, Jonathon’s display proved to be one of the highlights of the air show. It was amazing to consider this was Jonathon’s first public display at Yeovilton in Miss Demeanour considering he had been based at Yeovilton while flying the Sea Vixen was in service. It certainly seemed as though he enjoyed displaying over the Somerset base. Further more there was the display by the Midair Squadron’s Hunter T7 which gave a solo display in the morning, as the Canberra had gone tech back at Kemble. This Midair Squadron has done really well this year for the flying and look forward to seeing them again next year with their 3 ship formation.
The Commando Assault finale is perhaps the best known aspect of Yeovilton. This year, the finale marked the significant transition that the Commando Helicopter force is going through with just four Westland Sea King HC4s backed up by a pair of Lynx HMA8s plus the Army Air Corps with a Lynx AH7 from Dishforth supporting a Wildcat AH1 from the Yeovilton based Army Wildcat Fielding Squadron. Fast jet support came from RNAS Culdrose based 736 Naval Air Squadron flying a pair of Hawk T1s, though sadly not ones wearing their new squadron markings. Usually it is a spectacular way to end the Day, but I found their new routine to be lacking with many gaps between insertions and not as many pyrotechnics as years before. With that being said the finale was still very enjoyable, just did not match up the previous years.
Yeovilton Air Day 2014 was certainly one of the more difficult events for organisers with a tonne of late cancellations. It was however still a great day of entertainment which showed off RNAS Yeovilton and the wider Royal Navy to the crowd in great style. The organisers have shown they can still make an event great no matter what bad luck is thrown their way and am looking forward to visiting the base again for Air Day 2015!