Cold War survivor joins the stunning display at air day
Superb displays by some of the world's best military and civilian pilots drew thousands of spectators to a special birthday party at a West Naval air base at the weekend.
A crowd of about 30,000 poured through the gates of Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton on Saturday for the annual air day, which also celebrated the base's 70th birthday.
Organisers said they were very pleased with the turn-out, especially during the recession.
Brigadier Mark Noble, Yeovilton's commanding officer said: "I think it has been an amazing success. We have put on an impressive flying display, and from feedback so far I think people have enjoyed themselves. My personal highlight has to be the weather, as the sunshine allows everyone to enjoy whatever they would like to.
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"I think of air day as a village fete but with flying displays, in that Yeovilton is a little town in the community and this is really just an extension of that feeling."
The principle aim of air day is to give the public a chance to get a close look at a working air base. Thousands of families joined camera-wielding aviation enthusiasts on a perfect summer's day.
Highlights included the world's only flying Avro Vulcan V bomber. The sight of the glorious delta-winged Cold War veteran roaring through the sky was even more welcome because last year its first planned flight at Yeovilton for many years was grounded by hydraulics problems.
Yeovilton, whose squadrons played such a vital role in the Falklands War, has a special affection for the Vulcan which saw service with the RAF from 1956.
At the start of the Falklands War, Vulcans flew the longest bombing mission in history – from Ascension Island to Port Stanley – to put Port Stanley's airfield out of action and deny its use to the Argentine invaders.
The great survivor, saved and restored by the Leicestershire-based Vulcan to the Sky Trust, is only kept airworthy by Herculean effort. Those who missed her on Saturday can catch her at next weekend's air show at Fairford, Gloucestershire. Other highlights included three separate displays by fearsome F16s, from Belgium, Holland and Denmark, the Red Arrows, the base's own Black Cats Lynx helicopter display team, military aerobatic teams from Spain and Jordan, and the aerial ballet by the Swift glider and its Piper Pawnee tow aircraft.