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The airshow at Yeovilton Naval Air Station has been known for decades as ‘Yeovilton Air Day’, from this year onwards they changed it to ‘The Royal Navy International Air Day’.

This is of course to emphasize that the event is the highlight for the Royal Navy. It paid off right away, as the show attracted some delicious participants from both the Italian and the Spanish Navy. For the Aviation PhotoCrew, and the team of photographers joining them in the photoflights, the airfield of operation was once more Dunkeswell airfield. The airfield will provide us maximum flexibility, and is located between the Air Station and the great coastline where we have our photo area.

The photomissions for the Royal Navy are always marked by very unique, rare and exotic participants. The 2019 edition was no exception!

The Spanish Harriers were announced months in advance, and everyone was looking sooo forward to finally catch a Harrier air to air. It is one of the very few types we never got to see behind the Skyvan. Unfortunately no big cigar for us this time, as due to some tailwind they arrived too early in UK airspace and right in the middle of our refuelling….

And so, as there were very few jets present this year, this ‘big’ project became the first one since we started in 2009 that did not feature any military jets. And guess what…they were not missed. Yeovilton lived up to its reputation of attracting some truly incredible aircraft and helicopters.

The Royal Navy itself really spoiled us, by flying for us not 1,2,3… but 8! of their helicopters for us. We had the privilege of seeing a 3-ship with two Wildcats and one Merlin, and incredible 4-ship formation of both the green and grey Merlins, and a Merlin flying home low level along the coast on Monday.

From the historic side, we had the privilege of flying with the Sea Fury in semi sunset conditions ;)

Helicopters and a superb scenery in abundance with the Irish EC-135, Belgian Alouette III, the classic Whirlwind and a world premiere of the newly restored Wessex, the only one flying in the world. What a fantastic looking machine that is!

Each year we also welcome a number of the vintage aircraft and aerobatic performers. It was a challenge with the Auster due to the low speed, but some great photos in the end. Rich Goodwin showed us both his blue Jet Pitts and the red demo biplane. A superb all yellow Stinson also joined the party, and of course our yearly rendezvous with the Avro Anson, while the local new jumpship and a Cap 21 came to say hello on Sunday.

The Lithianian Air Force send the Spartan to the Skyvan for a very enjoyable photoshoot, while the German Navy brought us their classic P3 Orion, always great fun to fly with those guys! More military was there for us, as the Hellenic Air Force presented us with a premiere….their T6 demo aircraft in a special paint and with smoke!
We had another premiere with the Royal Air Force Tucano pair, it was the very first time we got to see this type flying for us….while it would be right away also the last time, as the Tucano went out of service soon after. Everything was there in that special join-up; a bit of clouds, the incredible backdrops, the striking black/yellow colours on the aircraft and some of the best formation flying in years!
Not having any military jets didn’t mean there was no jet-power for us: it came in the form of the incredible Strikemaster duo, giving us an exciting 15 minutes at 1500 feet!! It took a few years before we finally got to see those jets, but is was so worthwhile to wait for them.
We got another two jets, the Paris Jet and Zephyr, who also flew a 2-ship join-up for us. Also both these French jets were a premiere for us. They are part of the ‘Cocarde Marine’ demo at the Air Day, flying a formation with yet another highlight we got to see this year….the unique and ultra-rare Alizé. We got the aircraft for a full 20 minutes, while thousands of pictures were made. It is for super treats like this the photographers like to join our projects again & again & again!
For the first time we had the chance to fly with the Italian Navy, and they did not bring one but two very special aircraft to the Air Day, both were a premiere for the airshow. The P72 arrived ( and departed ) with ideal weather conditions, and great formation pilots result naturally in fantastic photos. And of course a prize for that super special looking P180 Avanti, it arrived in the evening and of course that is how you make it to the Yeovilton 2020 calendar ? See you guys in 2020.

The big prize for this year went to a new Air Force for us, after 11 seasons it becomes pretty hard to find an Air Force that has never flown with the Skyvan photoship before. The Qatar Emiri Air Force brought a C-130 to the static parc….and a C-17! As soon as it was announced everybody hoped it would be that airframe in the splendid colours of Qatar Airways, after a dozen phonecalls we found out it would be that one. But how do you coordinate a photoshoot with a giant like the Globemaster in a tight airframe, along the beautiful coastline, when the C-17 is coming in directly from Doha? Well, another dozen phonecalls and the great support of the Yeovilton airshow team and ATC!!!

One of our magical moments of the 2019 season was definitely the opportunity to have this super beauty flying for us, it went very smooth and the photoresults were so nice that the C-17 will rightfully grace the cover of the Yeovilton 2020 calendar.

Of course the Aviation PhotoCrew will return to the Royal Navy International Air Day in 2020, and you are invited to join us if you have an interest in catching some highly unusual aircraft along the great coastline. We will have the ‘big’ arrivals project on offer, as well as the smaller project for the departures. Send a short email to to receive all the information.
 

 
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