Farnborough 2006 Page 5

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Complimenting their presence at the entrance the Italian aero industry displayed the next three aircraft — a C27J Spartan, a Tornado with its upgrade package and an M346 prototype. The C27J was an impressive aircraft and its steep angle of approach combined with its flexibility, power cargo ability showed why it is looking to be a sure-fire export success. The Tornado was fitted cleanly and this, combined with a much tighter display routine, resulted in the Tornado display honors firmly falling to the Italians. The M346 was an impressive trainer, looking more like an Alfa Jet than the previous 300 series aircraft. Its close relationship to the Italo-Brazilian AMX may be the reason for this! Following the Italians, a pair of Dassault Falcons normally used to train Fleet Air Arm pilots and crew arrived in close formation from Bournemouth and then produced a series of cross-overs and aerobatics not normally seen in what are usually executive jets! All in all this produced a very bizarre and thoroughly entertaining spectacle.

Earlier in the display I had been asked when would be the best point at which to take a toilet break (this was something that needed to be planned as the organizers had seen fit to produce one block of toilets for the 130,000 attendees!). I had suggested during the next three displays — how wrong I was! First up was the Slingsby Firefly. Although the Firefly is a small aircraft by any standards, its display was incredible! A series of low loops, stall turns, barrel rolls and tumbles allowed the little yellow plane to steal the show for many who were watching — a truly incredible display of airmanship. The Ultimate High team produce fun days out for paying customers. Aside from riding in aerobatics aircraft of varying degrees of severity, the team also arrange “Top Gun” trips (where you get to try to shoot down your friends). For the Farnborough display the team laid on an Extra 300 aerobatics plane and produced a scintillating display for the crowd, claiming to pull a +/- G combination of 12g in one maneuver! Finally in this segment of the flying display was an Extra 300 being used as a glider tug for a Fox glider. Both the tug and the glider went through a series of rolls, loops and turns at low level in front of the crowd before climbing up to release the glider. With red and white smoke trailing from the wingtips the glider produced what can only be described as aerobatic ballet in an awesome display of pirouettes, swoops and whirls before one very low level loop that saw it land inch perfectly on the main runway.

A display of a different kind immediately followed as the Royal Army Air Corps’ display team The Blue Eagles took over. Their display team of four Gazelles has been expanded to include a Lynx which took center stage for much of the display. Despite being a 30 year old design the Lynx is still one of the most capable aircraft in the world and this (completely standard) model was demonstrated to the crowds performing stunts which, until recently, were the reserve of the Lynx alone. After the technical prowess of the Lynx was demonstrated the airmanship of the Gazelle instructors was displayed with several close formation and syncro pair cross-overs being displayed. Of particular note was the upward corkscrew performed by two Gazelles facing each other and the Lynx flying backwards down the display line while in close formation with the Gazelles. The final fast jet of the day was the Mig29OVT. Painted in a garish red, white and blue to reflect the colors of the Russian Federation, this Mig had been fitted with vectored thrust turbofans which also vented through the nose. The result of this (coupled to the MiG’s famously strong airframe construction) was a display of agility only second to that of the Extra 300s seen earlier. The usual tail slides and tight stall turns were thrown off balance by use of the vectored thrust to provide a fabulous display of aerobatics.

Farnborough 2006

Farnborough 2006

The final portion of the show was given over to the regular crowd favorites — the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Caroline Grace’s Spitfire and the Red Arrows. The Plain Sailing Catalina took to the air to demonstrate its beautiful restoration (from active service in World War 2 to being a pretty tawdry water bomber in France and now restored and repainted in the beautiful white service markings of a North Sea rescue plane).

Farnborough 2006

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