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Leuchars Airshow - September 2010

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  • Leuchars Airshow - September 2010

    B52 on Static DisplayAfter last year's traffic 'fun', we decided to book early and get somewhere on the other side of Leuchars and use the Park and Ride facility in the hope that we enjoyed an easier run of it! Oh how wrong were we! Torrential rain overnight and early on the morning of this year's show resulted in our Park and Ride 'field' being put out of commission. As a result, we were re-directed to the main P&R site and, after some confusion amongst the local Police as to whether that was the site we were to go to or not, we got there and parked up quickly near the exit (as we had pre-booked).

    On to the show and, as a result of the increased traffic, we got caught in the mother of traffic jams. There appeared to be no priority given to the P&R buses which meant having to sit it out with everyone else. After moving around 200 yards in 30 minutes, we decided to take the 'healthy' option and got off at the Guardbridge roundabout and walked, beating the bus by around 20 minutes in the process!

    Once on the base, the initial thought was how light the static displays were this year. There appeared to be a distinct lack of support from some sectors (the Americans sending the customary B52 and KC-135 tanker but nothing else again) however with the decision to spread the static display out further along the taxiway, it gave an increased sense of desolation when walking around. What was good to see though was the ability to get inside a number of the aircraft and get a tour of them, something that was lacking from last year.

    Typhoon on Static displayOn to the display and this year's event was to focus on the Battle of Britain at Home given this year's 70th Anniversary of the BoB along with the Past, Present and Future defence of Britain's skies. There were many aircraft representing the RAF's involvement in the campaign and air defence but probably one of the most eagerly anticipated was the ceremony to mark the reformation of 6Sqn - as the Squadron Standard was saluted in a ceremony near the beginning of the show, a Spitfire, Tornado (the current inhabitant at Leuchars) and Typhoon (taking up station at Leuchars with 6 Sqn) performed a flypast together to mark the three eras of air defence.

    This year's show had a very good mix of aircraft on flying display from the old favourites, the Red Arrows, through to some not seen in a few years - Harrier GR9 (see video below) to some classic old aircraft such as the WW1 SE5a fighter and the rare Swedish J29 Tunnan and SK60. The Vulcan Bomber continued to wow the crowd after getting through some last minute repairs to arrive later than planned and go straight into it's display. The Blades aerobatic team always set a high standard and this year's display was no exception, throwing their Extra 300's around the sky with what seems no fear of the potential consequences!


    Harrier GR9 performing it's 'party tricks' (2m 13s). Double click to view on YouTube

    After the weather which greeted us en route to the show, it was a delight to get some blue sky through the day again and the couple of rain showers that did appear didn't 'dampen' the enthusiasm on the base - the fact that they lasted all of 2 minutes helped! It was only after the show that the troubles began - again!The bus trip back to the P&R was uneventful and we got there around 5.40. Unfortunately, for the next hour and a half, we never moved (nor did any in the queue of traffic in front of us - the queue nearest to the road) while the bottom end of the car park seemed to be emptying quite quickly. No private traffic management staff, no RAF personnel and no police to be seen, only cadets.

    Leuchars based RAF Sgt Taff Morris then appeared along our queue speaking to everyone. After myself and another motorist spoke to him regarding opening the eastern most exit and allowing cars to depart to the east, he headed off to speak to the Police to try and resolve the queue at the top end of the car park although the idea was vetoed by the officer there. In fairness to Sgt Morris, he came back along the queue (twice) and spoke to everyone offering his apologies for the situation - the only person to be seen doing so. He advised that a number of base personnel were on their way to tackle the problems as the private management company would not deal with anything beyond the queue at the exit point only!

    As soon as the RAF personnel turned up, the 'free-for-all' that had been taking place was given a sense of order and within 20 minutes (8.20) we had made it out of the field and on our way home - still westbound....

    While I accept that the show is a military show and that parking is not the responsibility for the police but their unwillingness to get involved in helping calm down an increasingly antagonistic situation didn't exactly endear them to those who were stuck in the P&R alongside us. Similarly, the lack of any sort of management by the traffic management company was, quite simply, disgraceful. While nothing can be done about the weather and the subsequent closure of one of the P&R sites, there seemed to be a lack of contingency on the part of the Police and Traffic Management company over what should be done and what needed to be done during the arrival and departure times. What also seemed strange to me was that while encouraging people to use the Park & Ride sites, the buses coming from them have no priority over other traffic allowing them to get stuck and, in effect, make them part of the traffic problem.

    For next year, I've already taken the chance on when the show will be and have managed to book into a B&B in St Michaels and will be walking to and from the show. Let's hope that the weather repeats this and last year's shows and that the airshow team put together another fine programme of flying for everyone to enjoy.
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