RNAS Yeovilton will be opening its doors to the public on Saturday 7th July for the annual International Air Day. Air Day is the change for the Royal Navy to showcase the Fleet Air Arm past and present to up to 40,000 people. The 2018 Air Day promises to be a truly international event too with a number of UK firsts both in the sky and on the ground. RNAS Yeovilton and the Air Day organisers launched the 2018 event to the press on the 24th April.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography as by the author.

RNAS Yeovilton remains one the UK’s busiest military airfields supporting not only Royal Navy operations, but also units from the Army Air Corps. Air Day is a chance for the public to get on base and see the Royal Navy and its international partners in action through ground displays, simulators, industry exhibitions, static displays of aircraft plus a dazzling give hour flying display.

2018 is the year of Engineering and Yeovilton is helping to celebrate that with an enhanced STEM hangar sponsored by Lockheed Martin. Several players from the Defence industry will be participating with various exhibitions and activities including a change to make and test your own rockets plus virtual reality flight simulators. There will also be a display of military vehicles, Classic Cars, the Sporting Bears will a collection of amazing Supercars all fronted by the Transformers, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee!

The Royal Navy will also be showing off many of its own traditions with a Fleet Air Arm Field Gun competition pitting RNAS Yeovilton against their old rivals, RNAS Culdrose. Also present will be The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines showing off their musical excellence and marching. Other musical interludes will include Yeovilton’s own Military Wives Choir and the HMS Heron Volunteers Band.

The aircraft static displays will celebrate over 100 years of naval aviation. Representing some of the earliest days of Royal Naval Air Service operations will the Bristol Scout. At the other end of the spectrum the current day Leonardo Wildcat HMA2 and Merlin HC4s will sit alongside other iconic aircraft such as the Sea Fury, Sea Vixen and Sea Harrier.

Lithuania will be participating at Air Day for the very first time with a Mil Mi-8 ‘Hip’ helicopter and a L-39 Albatross jet trainer in the static display. Joining the international flavour of the static display will be the Canadian Air Force with a CC-130J Hercules II and a Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 Extender. Organisers hope to add to the list of international ‘heavies’ with further announcements in the next few weeks.

Yeovilton will also help to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force in the flying display. Both services have worked closely together over the past century and that bond will come even closer with the introduction into service of the F-35B Lightning which both will operate from the new aircraft carriers. Leading the RAF100 tributes will be the Red Arrows who will be joined by the Douglas Dakota and two Supermarine Spitfires of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 from 29[R] Squadron. The RAF’s rotary heritage will also be celebrated in the flying with the Austrian based Flying Bulls collection making their Air Day debut with their unique airworthy Bristol 171 Sycamore which will make for an interesting contrast with the current Boeing Chinook HC6!

As an aside from the all the military might will be some truly colourful and jaw-dropping aerobatics antics with the return of Rich Goodwin and his Pitts S-2S Special plus the Flying Bulls incredible MBB Bo105C aerobatic helicopter.

The Royal Navy will of course taking a leading role in the flying display. Opening the display will be a venerable Westland Sea King ASaC7 from RNAS Culdrose. This is the last variant of the Sea King in service with the UK armed service and will be making a farewell flypast alongside a pair of Wildcat HMA2s and the RNHF Sea Fury as it is soon due to retire from service. This year will also see the Royal Navy Historic Flight make a welcome return to the Yeovilton flying programme with both the Fairey Swordfish I and the Hawker Sea Fury T20. The latter will be seen alongside the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTi which will be a rare chance to see both Korean War types in the air together as a tribute to the famous 1952 encounter between the types.

Air Day regulars will welcome the return of the ‘Junglies’ to the flying programme. Yeovilton based Wildcat HMA2s and Merlin HC3s will be involved in a smaller scale version of the famous Commando Assault that will feature the usual amazing pyrotechnics. Plans for the ‘Assault’ are still be worked on and full details will be announced in due course.

There will be a very special contribution from the French Navy which for the first time at any UK show presents a display celebrating both its heritage and current prowess – the ‘Corcardes Marine.’ This will see examples of the Fouga CM175 Zephyr and Morane Saulnier MS760 Paris classic jets join with two Dassaut Rafale Ms and a Breguet Atlantique II from the current French Navy for a special flypast before splitting into solo and duo routines.

Returning to Air Day for their first appearance in decades will be the Royal Canadian Air Force with their CF-18 Demo Team. The team are making a rare trip across the Atlantic for the RAF100 celebrations both at Air Day and the Royal International Air Tattoo and present a dramatic and dynamic routine of flying in the CF-18 Hornet. Joining the Canadian will several other international fast jet displays. The Hellenic Air Force participates at Air Day for the first time with their F-16C Fighting Falcon solo display ‘Zeus.’ Fans of the F-16 won’t be disappointed as there will be two more chances to see the type in the air with further solo displays from the Belgian and Danish Air Forces. Completing the jet line with be the welcome return of the Czech Air Force with the SAAB JAS-39C Gripen and Aero Vodochody L-159 ALCA.

Current aircraft participation as of 24/04/2018

Royal Navy – Flying

  • Swordfish I – Royal Navy Historic Flight
  • Sea Fury T20 – Royal Navy Historic Flight (New update)
  • Sea King ASaC7 (New update)
  • Further aircraft to be announced in due course

Royal Navy – Static

  • Swordfish II – Royal Navy Historic Flight
  • Sea Fury FB11 – Royal Navy Historic Flight (New update)
  • F-4K Phantom FG1
  • Sea Harrier FA2
  • Further aircraft to be announced in due course

Royal Air Force – Flying

  • Chinook HC6A (New update)
  • Typhoon FGR4
  • Hawk T1 x 9 – The Red Arrows Aerobatic Team
  • Dakota III – Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
  • Spitfire x 2 – Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Foreign Military – Flying

  • CF-18 Hornet Demo Team – Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Rafale M x 2 – French Navy
  • Atlantique 2 – French Navy
  • JAS 39C Gripen – Czech Air Force
  • L-159 ALCA – Czech Air Force
  • F-16C Fighting Falcon Demo Team ‘Zeus’ – Hellenic Air Force
  • F-16AM Fighting Falcon – Royal Danish Air Force
  • F-16AM Fighting Falcon – Belgian Air Force
  • Extra EA330LX x 4 – Royal Jordanian Falcons Display Team

Foreign Military – Static

  • Mi-8 ‘Hip’ – Lithuanian Air Force
  • L-39 Albatros – Lithuanian Air Force
  • Lynx HAS4 – French Navy
  • NH90 Caiman – French Navy
  • Falcon 50M – French Navy
  • CC-130J Hercules – Royal Canadian Air Force
  • KDC-10 Extender – Royal Netherlands Air Force
  • AS532U2 Cougar – Royal Netherlands Air Force
  • NH90 NFH – Royal Netherlands Navy

Classic Jets & Cold War Era Types – Flying

  • Bristol 171 Sycamore – The Flying Bulls
  • CM.175 Zéphyr – Cocardes Marine (New update)
  • MS.760 Paris – Cocardes Marine (New update)
  • MiG-15 – Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron (New update)

Classic Jets & Cold War Era Types – Static

  • Auster AOP9 – Private
  • Auster AOP6 – Private
  • 0-1A Bird Dog – Private
  • Sea Vixen FAW2 – Naval Aviation Ltd

Civilian – Flying

  • Bo105C – The Flying Bulls
  • Pitts S-2S ‘Muscle Biplane’ – Rich Goodwin

Further information and Tickets for RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day are available from https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/yeovilton-airday priced £24 for adaults, £7 for Children (5-15).