250,000 visitors to this weekend’s Wales Airshow in Swansea were wowed by the RAF.
With aircraft displays, a parade and ground-based interactive activities, the RAF was out in force.
In the air, visitors were thrilled by a nostalgic display from the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The current RAF was represented by the Tucano training aircraft and unique Chinook helicopter. The RAF Tutor, like those used by the University of Wales Air Squadron at MoD St Athan, gave a polished aerobatic display.
The RAF Typhoon, the fastest the loudest aircraft on display, had the honour of opening the show on Saturday and closing it on Sunday.
For many, the RAF Aerobatic Team – The Red Arrows – was the highlight. Their display was particularly special for one of the pilots.
Squadron Leader Mike Bowden, Red 3 with the Red Arrows, said: “Growing up in South Wales l clearly remember my father taking me to an airshow at RAF St Athan at a young age.
“After seeing the Red Arrows that day the boyhood dream had started and I never let go of it!
“I feel incredibly lucky to be here again in my final season as one of the Red Arrows pilots and enjoyed every bit of displaying to the crowds at the Wales National Airshow in Swansea over the weekend.”
On the ground, the RAF Village provided a fabulous opportunity for spectators to meet members of the RAF and interact with a range of equipment and displays.
Speaking on the performance by the the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, Haydn Davies aged 8, said: “I loved the dogs and l liked it when they jumped through the hoops.”
RAF Cadets from Number 215 (City of Swansea) Squadron paraded through the City to commemorate 100 years since a Swansea resident’s world-renowned epic flight.
Cadet Elisa Bonazzi, aged 15, said: “It’s really special and a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a big event and it’s great to be part of it.”
Arthur Whitten Brown settled in Swansea after he, and fellow RAF officer John Alcock, became the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. This incredible feat is being celebrated by a free exhibition hosted by Swansea Museum throughout July.
The Air Cadet Squadron was granted the honour of Freedom of the City of Swansea in 2016.
Trainees from MOD St Athan were also part of the parade which was enjoyed by the Secretary of State for Wales, The Right Honourable Alun Cairns MP, along with local dignitaries and the vast crowd.
The County’s own RAF Reserve Squadron were also on duty over the weekend.
Along with colleagues from Number 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron, Aircraftsman Jack Pritchard, a driver aged 24 from Cwmbran, was part of The RAF Village. “It’s great for me to be here today at Wales’ biggest airshow and represent the Squadron. For anyone thinking of joining the Reserves l would say go for it!”
Sisters Elise and Lili Thomas, along with mum Ceri-Ann, left their Carmarthenshire home early on Sunday morning to ensure they didn’t miss the Red Arrows. Elise, aged 11, said: “I loved the Red Arrows and the shapes they made in the sky.”
“We absolutely loved the Red Arrows display”, added Ceri-Ann.