Our next week of displays started with a right royal knees-up as the team flew in for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Picnic at Burghley House in Lincolnshire as part of the official Diamond Jubilee Tour.
The first of two visits that The Blades will be making to Burghley this year, some 10,000 people gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion and see if they could catch a glimpse of Her Majesty at the prestigious event.
In addition to the Queen other guests included dignitaries such as the Lord Lieutenants of Lincolnshire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. The pilots flew straight in after the Red Arrows performed their signature flypast meaning all eyes were well and truly on the sky for the display.
We’ll be returning to Burghley later in the season for this year’s Battle Prom.
After performing at the Diamond Jubilee Picnic we began preparing for a full weekend’s work with three displays at various locations around Lincolnshire on Saturday and the first major RAF air show of the season at Cosford on Sunday.
Preparing for shows includes everything from making sure the aircraft are clean and ready and planning where to re-fuel and re-smoke, to securing entry to events for the ground crew and PR team and carrying out press interviews.
The PR team set off bright and early on Saturday morning to RAF Coningsby weighed down with cans of smoke oil and other aircraft paraphernalia.
We regularly display at RAF friends and families day, particularly those that have raised money for our service charity partner, the Royal Air Forces Association’s Wings Appeal, and we are always honoured to be have the chance to support the Royal Air Force wherever we can. It’s an extremely important part of our heritage as a team and it will always be a big part of what we are all about. Coningsby also happens to be the home station of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight so there was time to drop in on a few old friends, some of whom flew with a few of the team when we were on the Red Arrows, before heading off to our next display.
Despite the weather blowing a gale we managed to fly our first display of the day and then headed over to Wickenby Wings and Wheels for the second. Unfortunately the strong winds meant the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfire couldn’t fly in but hopefully our full display was enough to keep the crowds entertained. We were met by a couple of very special spectators afterwards, Merlin the ambassador dog for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and a bride-to-be who wanted her photo with the pilots before her wedding day!
Our final display on Saturday was at the Spitfire Proms at Belton House. Proceeds from the event went to the Wings Appeal and despite the wind and rain, the crowd rose to the occasion in spectacular style and the team flew in to the emotive sounds of the Dambusters March!
A tiring day but the sight of the crowds waving their Union Flags as we flew down the display line was quite simply fantastic and makes it all worthwhile. It is what it is all about.
To finish a busy weekend of displaying, we flew in to close the show at RAF Cosford on Sunday. The RAF’s first big air show of the display season, we completed what was a stunning afternoon of flying from everyone from the RAF solo display teams, including the Hawk, Tucano, Tutor, Typhoon and Tornado to the Red Arrows and RAF Falcons.
That left just enough time for us to get our feet back on the ground (literally!) before getting ready to take on our next week of displays.