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● The award-winning Balbo of naval aircraft –
seen here at Culdrose – and (left) youngsters
get in the spirit of the Cornish air day next to
a specially-liveried Hawk jet
IT’S always nice to win an award.
“We’re very proud, obviously, especially when
Winning it on your arch rival’s home turf just
we’re celebrating 100 years of naval aviation.”
makes it all the sweeter.
The FAA almost took the Concours d’Elegance
Naval aviators walked (or rather fl ew) away from
(‘competition of elegance’ for non francophones)
the world’s biggest military air show with the top
trophy too for the best static display.
prize, the King Hussein Memorial Sword.
In the end, the RN had to settle for second place
More than 160,000 people attended the two-
with its 771 NAS Sea King painted in its original
day Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford
livery in the 40th anniversary year of the famous
in Gloucestershire.
They saw more than 250 aircraft from nearly two
The Balbo has been a recurring theme in displays
dozen nations performing – from Eurofi ghters and
involving FAA aircraft in this, naval aviation’s
French Rafaeles to the legendary Vulcan.
centenary year.
Two in every 13 aircraft on show at Fairford
We had one over the capital on the birthday
were Royal Navy – and they combined for the most
itself (May 7), one over Yeovilton (July 11), and a
impressive strand of the two-day aerial pageant.
couple at RIAT (July 18 and 19).
Forty-one helicopters, jets and propeller-driven
And the weather for all of them has been less-
aircraft (roughly one fi fth of the Fleet Air Arm’s
than-brilliant. So what hope Culdrose?
strength) grouped together for a mass fl ypast, or
Well, not a lot as it happened – but there was a
silver lining.
The Balbo takes its name from the inter-war
The heavens opened long before dawn on
Italian aviation pioneer (and Fascist, but we don’t
Wednesday July 29. By the time they closed in
like to talk about that bit) Italo Balbo. It remains as
the mid-afternoon, they’d deposited more than an
impressive a sight now as it was seven decades
inch of rain upon the Cornish air station.
But at least it stopped – allowing a shortened
Organisers certainly thought so, for when the
display to take place into the early evening.
hundreds of aviators gathered at the end of the
There was a 28-aircraft Balbo, plus individual
show for the ‘Sunday Night Hangar Party’, they
performances by Sea Kings, Merlins, Hawks, an
singled out the naval fl iers.
RAF Typhoon, and fi nally, with the sun making
The sword which they received is presented
a belated appearance, the wing walkers of the
each year for the best overall fl ying demonstration
Guinot Skincare team and the Royal Jordanian
in memory of the Jordanian king who was the
show’s patron for most of the 1980s.
Pictures: PO(Phot) Shaun Preston and
LA(Phot) Jenny Lodge, RNAS Culdrose
It fell to his son, Prince Feisel of Jordan, to hand
over the sword to the Fleet Air Arm… who had
just returned it; the Hawk jets of FRADU
were the last winners of the title in 2007
(the British summer wiped out the 2008
“It’s fantastic – a surprise more
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than anything,” said 845 NAS’s
Lt Rich Liddle receiving the
trophy on behalf of his
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● Blue skies at last... The Guinot Skincare
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wing walkers fi nally get to perform over
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