With more than 100 aircraft either on static display or flying and an expectation by the organisers that over 60,000 visitors are likely to attend over the two days, the inaugural Scampton Airshow which will be held at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire on the 9th – 10th September, is set to be a very exciting, interesting welcome event.
As a county, Lincolnshire has a long and illustrious history in the 99 year history of the Royal Air Force and even today boasts no fewer than three active RAF bases. With the understandable decision taken based on ‘increased security concerns’ that the RAF Waddington Airshow which was last held in 2014 would be the last, it is really good to see that the promise that future show could be held at RAF Scampton has been made good.
With the Scampton Airshow run RAF Charitable Trust as opposed to the Royal Air Force itself, as had been the case at RAF Waddington, it is right to here and now recognise that holding the event is made possible by the 750+ volunteers who have and will continue to work extremely hard to make sure that this exciting event will be the success that it deserves to be.
An event for all those who attend to be absolutely thrilled by a unique mix of modern and historic jets and air displays, the Scampton Airshow will seek not only to promote the Royal Air Force and what it does to a wider audience and to play an important part in encouraging young people to consider careers in aviation, science and engineering but importantly, to raise funds for the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
Paul Sall, director of the Scampton Airshow and who was formally responsible for organising the RAF Waddington Airshow reminded recently of the important role that the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, plays in the encouragement in young people of air-mindedness, particularly through the Air Training Corps. “Air shows like Scampton often ignite that spark in young people” and knowing Paul as I do and in once again recognising the importance of the work that RAFCT do, I fully support what he says.
With a unique mix of historic and current military jets on display including an F-4F Phantom, Su-22M-4, Buccaneer S2B and the Hunter Mk.58 amongst some 100 aircraft that will be taking part in the show either as static display or in the flying display the RAF Scampton will undoubtedly be a very enjoyable and worthwhile event.
A total of five hours of flying displays is planned to take place on each of the two days including those from the Scampton based RAF Red Arrows aerobatic display team, RAF Typhoon military jets from nearby RAF Coningsby, no fewer than three Lockheed Martin F-16 Flying Falcons together with the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ which starred in the film Memphis Belle and other international presence the line-up looks very exciting.
In addition, the RAF Falcons, the UK’s premier military parachute team, will also display along with the now very well-known Breitling Wingwalkers aerobatic display team. Hopefully, although a decision must now await actions related to the temporary grounding of the aircraft necessitated by checks required on the Merlin engines, visitors will also be able to see four Spitfires together with the Avro Lancaster from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
The inaugural Scampton Airshow can be regarded as a completely new event on the calendar and one that will over its two days of the show provide visitors with the rare opportunity not only to enjoy a fantastic military airshow event but also to better understand what the RAF does, to provide encouragement for young people to understand the importance and relevance of air power and just to be on one of the most important historic yet still active RAF bases.
Home during WW2 to the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron and whose headquarters/mess buildings are preserved to this day, Scampton Airshow presents a rare opportunity for visitors to experience over 100 years of military aviation history in the UK. With the Royal Air Force itself celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation next year, the inaugural Scampton Airshow event is made all the more poignant.
With an important airshow event such as Scampton designed to please and entertain and also to demonstrate some of what the Royal Air Force does together with the role that it plays and the vital importance that air power plays within defence, it is equally important to highlight other important reasons for holding an event such as this.
Joining the Air Training Corps and/or the University Air Squadrons have long been recognised as ways of potentially encouraging young people to join the RAF. Airshows such as Scampton are also important in that they can open new doors and thoughts for young people and encourage them to consider joining the RAF as a potential career. To that end, the RAF Village at the Scampton Airshow will allow visitors to meet the serving men and women of Royal Air Force, including members of the Red Arrows aerobatic team, and to look at individual RAF trades in more detail and also, to walk around the Techno Zone which is sponsored by Rolls-Royce. Here visitors will be able to see a vast range of free fun STEM (science, engineering, technology and maths) activities to inspire young minds and the spark to create the next generation of aviators and astronauts.
RAF Scampton has a very important history and not surprisingly, houses a heritage centre on site. Known best for the vital role played by 617 squadron under Commanding Office Wing Commander Guy Gibson during WW2, the Heritage Centre is run by volunteers and requires to be pre-booked. A training centre in the immediate period following the end of WW2, RAF Scampton would once again become an important front line base during the ‘Cold War’ period. 617 Squadron had been reformed in 1958 to fly the Avro Vulcan and the base would remain the primary V-Bomber base up until 1982 when the last Vulcan aircraft was retired. During that period Scampton would also be home at various times to Vulcan equipped 83, 27 and 35 Squadrons. For the record, following its role in the immediate post WW2 period as a Bomber Command Training School, from 1953 until 1955 RAF Scampton was home to Canberra equipped bomber squadrons No’s 10, 18, 21 and 27.
Today RAF Scampton is home to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) which is better known to most as the ‘Red Arrows’. No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), an important unit that is maintained at very high readiness in order to deploy worldwide when required, is also located on the Scampton base. 1ACC provides Tactical Air Command and Control (C2) as well as increased situational awareness for air and ground directly supporting National, NATO and Coalition Air Operations; thereby fulfilling the UK’s Deployable Air Surveillance and Control System (DASACS) capability. On call 24/7 1ACC provide resilience to the UK Air Defence System, should there be an outage to the primary system. RAF Scampton is also home to the Met. Office’s Mobile Meteorological Unit.
The RAF Charitable Trust
Formed in 2005, the main source of Royal Air Force Charitable Trust income comes through its trading company, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises. The latter is responsible for organisation of the UK’s largest and most important military airshow event, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) which is held at RAF Fairford each July. Supporting the Royal Air Force family, enhancing the environment of serving personnel and their families, encouraging young people to fly and to initiate and develop within them an enthusiasm for aviation and generate a desire in them to join the RAF as a career, the trust supports a wide range of initiatives and projects that benefit serving RAF personnel, veterans and young people. Importantly, it has and continues to support projects and welfare facilities that benefit those preparing for, or serving on front-line deployments, and their families at RAF stations around the country. Since 2005, the trustees have approved nearly £3 million in grants for welfare-related projects that have included refurbishment of family clubs (recent example of this being at RAF Valley), HIVEs, crew rooms and messes at several bases, as well as supporting the provision of sports equipment facilities.
CHW (London – 17th August 2017)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785