Thousands at Yeovilton Air Day 2012
Impressive displays by some of the world’s best military and civilian pilots drew thousands of spectators to RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2012. Themed this year on the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands War, when in 1982 over 1400 personnel and 126 aircraft from the base deployed to the South Atlantic, visitors were able to see some of the aircraft that took part.
Following on from 2011’s award-winning event, the 2012 show was once again an outstanding success, showcasing the Fleet Air Arm and with a comprehensive five hour flying display plus a diversity of static displays. Visitors of all ages enjoyed a thrilling and memorable day-out at this flagship Royal Navy base, with a range of family-themed attractions on the ground complemented by the airborne excitement.
An enthusiast crowd poured through the gates on Saturday to see this annual aviation and fun day extravaganza. Organisers were delighted and an excited Public brought a buzz about the air station. With a greater hands-on approach the traditional Royal Marines Village, supported by the Commando Helicopter Force was a crowd pleaser allowing extra chances for spectators to get up close and personal with the current military Vehicles, the Aircraft on show and the Sailors and Marines who operate them.
The Royal Navy Historic Flight, celebrating its 40th anniversary provided powerful reminders of the service’s achievements during WW2 and the immediate post-war years. With displays from the Fairey Swordfish LS326 and the Sea Fury T20 – a two-seat trainer version of the most potent piston-engined fighters ever built. Royal Navy contributions also included the award-winning Royal Navy Black Cats, who put their two Lynxes through their paces in an intricately fast-paced and newly re-choreographed routine.
Unique to Yeovilton Air Day, was the Royal Navy’s spectacular Jungly Commando Assault. A multi-layered role demonstration, blending flying assets, armoured vehicles, troops and explosions in an all-action set piece that illustrated the vital contribution to the preservation of global stability made by the Royal Navy both 30 years ago during the Falklands War and the present day. “There’s a thrill performing in front of your home crowd. We do many flying displays around the county during the season but Yeovilton is special.” Said Lieutenant Ian Brannighan, This years Black Cat 2 pilot.
Also on the ground in the specially designed Arena were the exciting Field Gun competition between HMS Heron and their rivals HMS Seahawk, from RNAS Culdrose, and the Band of HM Royal Marines, fresh from their recent involvement in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, performed to the obvious delight of the public.
But the really big show stopper for 2012 was the sight of one of the largest aircraft in the world. A Russian Antonov An-124 displaying for the first time in over two decades adding that “Wow Factor” to the sky’s above Somerset.
Commodore Paul Chivers OBE, Yeovilton’s CO said, “Air Day at Yeovilton is all about involving the whole family. This year we enlarged the Royal Marines village to include a greater range of Combat vehicles and Aircraft. The Antonov was very impressive it almost took your breath away. There’s certainly been something for everyone this year.”