Air Show 2011

Since the first show at RAF Waddington in 1995, when it was an RAF At Home Day, the show has evolved into what is now an Air Show of national and international standing, participation over recent years has been wide and varied – ranging from Israeli aicraft, Indian Su30, USAF B1, F117 and flying display teams from across the world. Since the inaugural Show in 1995 our average attendance has been 125 000 over the 2-days and whilst our visitors used to come from the East Midlands, they now come from much further afield. This year the show was equally as successful and we had 145 000 visitors with 31 000 cars over the 2-days. We are now amongst the largest of the outdoor events in the Central/East Midlands calendar and firmly established in the national air show calendar.

With RAF personnel and assets deployed operationally across the world, that success comes at a time when the Station is at its busiest. The fact that we were able to produce a show that meets expectation is testament to the commitment, enthusiasm and, most of all, professionalism of all the personnel at RAF Waddington. With that success in mind I will share with you 3 of the many similar comments we have seen on the internet or from letters sent to the office:“I’ve been going to Waddington since 1995 and it gets bigger every year.
This year’s show was fantastic on both days. The highlights for me were the Red Arrows, Vulcan and BBMF. Traffic was bad on Saturday, no problems on Sunday. I think Waddington should open their gates at 7am to get everyone in and start the Air”

“Show at 11 till 6. Whatever happens I will be there for both days next year. Well done Waddington. Great show.”

“I was a little concerned during the build up to the Waddington week-end that the displays were going to be limited due to operational commitments. This was not the case. It was an outstanding day out on the Sunday. Highlights were the Apache, The Thunderbirds and of course, the Vulcan. Traffic on the Sunday was not a problem, and the weather was superb. It is fully understandable why certain types were not represented and this was fully compensated with a superb flying display. Even the RAF Falcons Parachute team were spectacular against a clear blue sky.”

I was there on Saturday, never been to Waddington before and for me it was the best Air Show I have been to by a country mile! And I went to my first show with my dad at Finningley in 1971! A very nicely balanced show, from the little Yak to the Thunderbirds. Apparently the latter’s display was quite restrained compared to their US shows! I thought the traffic flow was pretty good, got from home in Mansfield to eating a bacon butty in the Bomber Harris chalet in well under three hours. Can’t wait for next year! Can we pre-book the same weather please!

These comments combined with the results of the Crowd survey conducted this year confirm we are meeting with the primary aim of the Air Show, which is to:

‘Improve the public’s understanding of the Service within the overall Defence context in order to maximise support for the RAF and its activities within the Defence Mission. It also aims to stimulate recruiting and raise money for charity’.

Outside the flying display, the wide selection of ground exhibits ranged from the 70th anniversary celebrations for the Air Training Corps, military bands, 1.6km of trade stalls to a giant LED screen in Hangar 4, which showcased RAF operational capability and live interviews with celebrities (Miss Carol Vorderman and Miss England) and flying display participants. The RAF on Air Audio Visual experience also provided our visitors with an invaluable ‘behind the scenes’ insight into the operational and training activity of the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition Reconnaissance (ISTAR) assets based at Waddington and future RAF capability. Corporate guests were not forgotten, for they were presented with a fantastic opportunity to host clients or staff during a unique but cost effective and memorable event. The net result of these endeavours is that we have shown that we have provided an insight into the important role that air power – and ISTAR in particular – plays in military operations.
This year we will once again add significantly to the £2.7 million already donated not only to the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) and RAF Benevolent Fund, who are our main beneficiaries’, but also local community projects.
Next year at the Air Show, we hope to have features highlighting the Lincolnshire year of Aviation and the Cenral Flying School Centenary. Whilst, there were many challenges this year I am confident we can address them for the 2012 Air Show and have another successful event. An event that takes 14 months in planning, nearly £2 million to stage and has 95 separate projects that involves over 2000 Service personnel. What was, in 1995 a secondary duty, the Air Show has now evolved into a medium scale business, with national and international exposure; it could certainly not have been completed without the commitment and professionalism of Waddington personnel.

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