#5 Flanker flare dump (Saturday 17th August): I've seen the Ukrainian Su-27P Flanker solo display several times, but at Gdynia AeroBaltic in Poland this year, it caught me unaware with a surprise flare dump at the end of its show.
#4 Team Raven inside the box (Friday 31st May): Team Raven's display with five RV-8s is pretty entertaining in any conditions, but at the Portugal Air Summit I was able to watch from under the show box at sunset, with probably the best lighting I have ever seen at an airshow.
#3 Daks formation (Wednesday 5th June): This was close to home - literally a 5 minute walk from my house. When I heard the Daks Over Normandy formation would be passing over, I had to find a good spot nearby to watch. Amazing to see so many Dakotas appear on the horizon.
#2 Hurricane 7-ship (Sunday 7th July): The Shuttleworth Military Airshow was an all-round great show, but top marks particularly to their historic formation display of seven Hurricanes, the largest in the UK since 1946. 20 minutes of near perfection, including formation elements, solo elements, tailchases and more.
#1 Tiger at Sunset (Saturday 21st September): My undisputed highlight of the year was the Spanish Air Force's Eurocopter Tiger solo display at sunset during Festa al Cel. Brilliantly flown, and easily the most exciting helicopter demo I have seen, which I had the privilage of watching from the top of the control tower.
Here's my highlights compilaiton from the season, look out for 5, 4, 2 and 1 from my list.
Looking forward to seeing what you all got up to!
Aerobatic team ground crew
Editor of thisisflight.net
1. - Germany Navy P-3C Orion at RAF Cosford
My highlight of the UK show season this year. Flying displays from MPAs are incredibly rare these days and the last time an Orion had made a UK flying appearance was 2011 (ok, that was a CP-140 but you get me). The Orion was due to display at Cosford in 2015 before eating one of its engines while departing Nordholz en-route to the show, so it was neat that the German Navy made the effort to return to the show and fly in 2019.
2. - Spanish Air Force E/F-18M Hornet at Šiauliai
Easily THE most impressive fast jet demo that I saw all year. I was really impressed by the Finnish Hornet at RIAT, but the Spanish blew it out of the water a week later at the Lithuanian Air Force's 100th Anniversary Show. The display was punchy, tight and close.. very close. Fly it like you stole it is how I'd best describe it.
3. - Hellenic Navy P-3B Orion at Tanagra
I wasn't planning on doing Athens Flying Week until I realised it was on over the weekend that I'd already booked a holiday to Athens with the missus. She still doesn't believe me that it was a total coincidence. Anyway, the Hellenic Navy Orions were WFU back in 2009 before a U-turn in 2014 when it was decided to re-activate and upgrade them. The first upgraded aircraft was handed over earlier this year so it was a nice surprise to see one listed to fly at Tanagra. The aircraft made a handful of passes, every one being relatively low and close.
4. - Evening helicopters at Airpower19 rehearsal day
Zeltweg's AirPower was a washout over the show days but the arrivals and rehearsals were blessed with glorious weather. The Wednesday evening before the show saw a rehearsal of a large helicopter presentation and display with a handful of civvies, modern mil Austrian rotary types and a Slovakian Mi-17 Hip in glorious evening light. What made it even better is that the AirPower spotters package allows you go to one of many locations all over the airfield, so we'd placed ourselves right in the middle of the field for the rehearsal. One of those 'this couldn't get any better' moments.
5. - German Air Force CH-53G at Faßberg
I've got a soft spot for CH-53s but since the helicopter moved from the German Army to German Air Force command I've struggled to catch any around Europe. I decided that I'd have to bite the bullet and attend one of the Tag der Bundeswehr to get a CH-53 flying, although it was a bit of a gamble as there are numerous simultaneous events and the participation lists don't detail what the aircraft will be doing - flypast, solo display, role demo etc. Anyway, I went to Faßberg and caught the CH-53 taking part in a couple of role demos but also putting on a solo display and it did not disappoint. Easily the most impressive military helicopter display in Europe, just a shame it only does a handful of displays every year.
I initially came away from the 2019 season feeling a bit deflated and meh about the whole year. On reflection it's been a decent year with plenty of highlights and my feelings are actually driven by the UK scene, where I feel like I've reached saturation point. Need to continue heading in to Europe in 2020 - there's a Starfighter that I'm yet to photograph!
Great to read your assessment of the Spanish EF-18 by the way. I went on the "wrong" day to RIAT 2017, and while I finally got to see it this year, it was at a venue where the high speed line was a full 410m away - not conducive to a particularly gripping fast jet demo. You got me Googling its display in Lithuania and it's safe to say the EF-18 is now up near the top of my must-see list.
Aerobatic team ground crew
Editor of thisisflight.net
I attended nine aviation events this year, three of which were negatively impacted by weather. I could probably do a top five just from Oshkosh, but that feels like cheating and a disservice to the fun I had elsewhere this year. Here are my top five:
1. Evening activities at Oshkosh.
The Monday night beatup by the F-22s and F-35s during the concert was legendary and walking through warbirds near dusk is always a highlight. I unfortunately didn't see the amount warbird flying I was hoping to this year (I was only able to attend Monday through Wednesday), but having close access to the XP-82 and getting to meet Tom Reilly Tuesday evening was a nice consolation after following the restoration so closely for years. Arrivals and departures in the evening light are also fun to watch and photograph. The XP-82 and the F-22s/F-35s were the best of the evenings though.
IMG_3917 by , on Flickr
IMG_4400 by , on Flickr
IMG_3863 by , on Flickr
2. Red Arrows in Chicago.
I wouldn't have otherwise attended this show, but the Reds made sitting through a couple weather delays worth it.
IMG_5405 by , on Flickr
3. Corsairs at Thunder Over Michigan.
Awesome display of 11 Corsairs and a well-choreographed flight. The Collings Foundation F4U-5NL is an all-time favorite of mine.
IMG_5144 by , on Flickr
4. F-100 action at Toledo.
This was easily the most flying I've seen by the Hun at a single airshow. There were plenty of solo fly-by's and seeing it in the air with the P-51 and F-16 in the lineage flight, and later with the MiG-17 was a great way to get the most out of the aircraft's appearance.
IMG_3057 by , on Flickr
5. Vintage jets at Waukegan.
This one is an annual highlight, but the variety at this show is always enjoyable. This year's highlights included the A-4, F-5, T-2, T-33s and a T-37.
IMG_0200 by , on Flickr
Looking ahead to 2020, I plan to make my first trip to Chino for the Planes of Fame show and it looks like I will finally be able to attend Oshkosh for close to the full week.
The 'meh' weather across the UK this summer really didn't help either. There's a massive limit on how much you can enjoy watching a Spanish Harrier display when you're absolutely drenched.Adam wrote: ↑Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:48 pmSomewhat jealous of your season, @DeanW! I totally agree with you about the UK scene. I did five UK shows this year (not counting the Daks flyover), and aside from glorious Shuttleworth, I don't recall a single "wow" monent at any of them. There's certainly more fun to be had on the continent. Having worked at a few medium sized European shows in the last two seasons, I'd really like to attend one of the big ones under my own steam next year.
Hopefully the RDAF anniversary show will be a big event next year. I'm really hoping the rumours of the Kecskemet show returning are true too, although I'm not holding my breath.
2. Corsairs at Thunder Over Michigan - 11 Corsairs nearly double what the last Corsair gathering I attended in 2002 had. Very well orchestrated from start up to shut down.
3. Red Arrows at Spirit of St Louis - My first time seeing the RAF demo team. They were worth the 1,000 mile round trip I drove to see them.
4. F-22 and two F-35s in a turn and burn duel at Oshkosh - It's rare that everyone at Airventure stops what they are doing to pay attention to one thing but that's what happened. Oh and no one turns inside a Raptor.
5. RAF warbirds at Oshkosh - Rod Lewis' Mossie, Capt Eddie's Fairey Firefly, Spitfire MK959
4. Watching the only airworthy JU-52 in the US fly at Warbirds Over Monroe. It's hard to pick a favorite moment from the show, as there were so many that gave me goosebumps. But this was the rarest plane at the show, and watching it creep though the air so slowly is kind of mind-warping. It wasn't necessarily on my bucket list of planes to see, but I'm glad I could check it off anyway.
3. T-45C High Performance Pass at Melbourne Air and Space Show. This show was incredible, and had so many great performers, including many that I have never seen before or haven't seen in years. Additionally, the trip though Florida was incredible. I got to appreciate the beauty of a place I had never seen before. It makes me want to take more trips to Flordia for air shows next year. I pick this as my favorite moment because it was not technically a part of the show, and it was my first time seeing a T-45C fly in person.
2. DC-3 overhead takeoff at Cheraw, SC. An unexpected result of having to park off site that turned an annoyance into an experience I will never forget. I did have to wait a while at the end of the runway to get to see it however, which drew the attention of the police officers nearby.
1. Unrestricted F-35B Demo at MCAS Beaufort. The first one at a public air show that I'm aware of, and a total surprise to me. I thought it would have been less maneuverable because of the extra hardware, but it's just about as capable as the F-35A.
1. RAF Red Arrows at New York International Air Show
2. Skip Stewart at NAS Oceana Airshow. The smoke ring at the end of his performance was incredible.
3. C-5 Galaxy Demonstration at Dover AFB. Very rare to see a C-5 Demo or Flyby.
4. Justin Lewis and the FLS MicroJet at the Pocono Raceway Airshow.
5. Matt Chapman at he New York International Air Show. Glad I got to see Matt perform one last time before his retirement.
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