AIR DAY 2015 – PRESS LAUNCH
CELEBRATING Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton’s 75th anniversary Air Day 2015 was launched at theFleetAirArmMuseum.
To be held on 11 July 2015, RNAS Yeoviltons Air Day is among the South West region’s most notable single-day events and is also one of the UK’s longest-running airshows, having been staged most years since 1947. The 21st century’s RNAS Yeovilton Air Days regularly attracts some 35,000 spectators, offering each and every one an entertaining, informative and unforgettable day out.
The theme for Air Day this year is a celebration of the Air Stations 75 years so it seemed only fitting to hold the press launch in theFleetAirArmMuseum’s World War II hangar with a small flying display and static park of aircraft past and present outside.
On 18 June 1940, RNAS Yeovilton was commissioned as HMS Heron. Since then, the base has moved from propeller-driven fighters and trainers through to the ultra-high tech frontline machinery of 75 years later, via several distinctive post-WW2 jet ages. Types from each of these eras will participate in the static display and five hour flying display, alongside a host of other aircraft, vintage and modern, slow and fast, military and civilian.
As a flavour for Air Day 2015 Commodore Jock Alexander Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton alongside his Squadron Commanding Officers and the Army outlined what those attending Air Day could expect in a feast of Flying displays, statics and arena shows for all the family.
Cdre Alexander said;
“I am delighted to welcome you all here today as we celebrate 75 years of RNAS Yeovilton. Air Day 2015 will be a fantastic mix of flying displays past and present and we look forward to over five hours of thrilling flying displays”
Cdre Alexander welcomed the media alongside the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) of Yeovilton past, two Commanding Officers of RNAS Yeovilton from over three decades ago and students fromYeovilCollegestudying Uniformed Public Service and Engineering.
The WRNS from Yeovilton past reminisced about how things have changed over the last 75 years amongst them 93 year old Jean Wills who joined the Wrens in 1939 and was posted to HMS Heron at Yeovilton as an Officers Steward. Jean said;
“I had never seen so much mud as the Air Station was just beginning, there were two cottages at Speckington, with no electricity for the first Captain , Abel Smith and first Commander Rump. Times have changed but it’s a wonderful place and I enjoyed the five years I served.”
Commanding Officers (CO) from over 3 decades ago joined members of the media to discuss the stations years gone by. Rear Admiral Rawbone CB.AFC (Retired) was Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton 1970 -1972 having joined the Royal Navy in April 1942 who qualified to fly as operational fighter pilot at RNAS Henstridge early in 1943.
Captain Mike Rawlinson OBE (Retired) joined the press launch and talked of his time as CO of Yeovilton 1980 -1982. He continues his links with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) as a volunteer in the Curatorial department of theFAAMuseum.
The Bird Control Unit (BCU) celebrates 50 years this year and Brian Bird, manager of the BCU was at the launch with Viper the Peregrine Falcon and will be at Air Day on 11 July 2015 with a stand of 3 falcons. Brian said;
“Today’s Royal Navy Bird Control Units, with its combined programme of pyrotechnics and other mechanical acoustic devices and its trained team of peregrine falcons and bird control falconers, is a vital part of flight safety. Bird strikes are the single greatest cause of accidents sustained by service aircraft”.
Force Commanders advised the Media who would be participating in Air Day 2015 alongside AgustaWestland (AW) who have strong links with RNAS Yeovilton via both its nearby location and ongoing provision of helicopters (and, before them, aircraft).
RNAS Yeovilton’s own Royal Navy Historic Flight plans to field much of its fleet including its Hawker Sea Fury FB11 VR930 in the static display and it’s Fairey Swordfish I W5856 in the flying display.
Commando Helicopter (CHF) Force’s Sea King HC4 retirement date of March 2016 looms ever closer. These enduring and very charismatic helicopters will thus for one final time be the load-lifting backbone of Air Day’s famous Commando Assault. They will be joined by 846 NAS Merlin HC3s to create a combination which Air Day’s explosive finale will never again feature.
RNAS Yeovilton is currently in transition, with its Lynx Mk8 and Sea King 4s very soon leaving service and their replacement Wildcat HM2s and Merlin HC3s already present in strength. All four will have significant Air Day roles.
The very popular Royal Navy Black Cats helicopter display team, now in a two Wildcat format, will put these brand new anti-surface warfare helicopters well and truly through their paces.
Founded in 1915 and celebrating its 100th anniversary is Yeovil based AgustaWestland (AW will be widely seen in the flying display, while the static display will include a special ‘AW100’ section
Royal Air Force participation is headlined by the world-renowned Red Arrows and 75 years on the Battle of Britain, the RAF’s Memorial Flight will pay solemn tribute to those who gave their lives for the freedom we now enjoy amongst other RAF aircraft.
Foreign Flavours to include the French Navy, Czech Air Force, Air Day award-winner, the Spanish Air Force’s Patrulla Águila. The Royal Jordanian Falcons will give another extremely crisp display of formation.
Northern Europe’s only flying MiG-15 will make its outright UK debut and conversely confirmed this will be the last season of airworthiness for the massively popular Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 set to will roar with its earth shaking flying display. The Vulcan will also be present on the ground for guided ‘under-wing’ tours.
The flying display might be Air Day’s centrepiece but there is a huge array of other attractions taking place on the ground, the Bird Control Unit with their Peregrine Falcons, a whole host of trade stands selling everything from military paraphernalia to local produce. Arena performances will include The Band of HM Royal Marines and the hotly contested Field Gun Competition. For the thrill seekers - simulators, fairground rides and helicopter pleasure flights cannot fail to excite.