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Vulcan takes breath away

IN CLASSICAL times, the festival of Vulcan was traditionally celebrated on August 23. In 2010

tremendous roar of her engines drew a hushed respect from the watching crowds of 30,000 as the delta- winged veteran of the Cold War arced gracefully across the blue heavens. Many of the audience had hoped to see the great bird in action last year but hydraulic problems had stopped the bomber from getting aloft; this year there was no disappointment, only delight. As one spectator commented as the veteran pulled off an astonishing display: “It was rather like watching Bruce Forsyth take to the floor again for one more dance.” Although she may be a little offended by the comparison, as the Vulcan is only in her 50th


Of course, the Vulcan was not the only draw for the throng, who filled the Naval Air Station’s grounds, with fixed-wing and rotary-wing displays running throughout the day. Yeovilton’s own Black Cats Lynx helicopter display team showed off the agile nature of their craft; and the Red Arrows did what the Red Arrows do best, leaving the sky streaked with lines of coloured smoke and the audience admiring. There was also plenty down on the ground to vie for visitors’ attention, with static displays of aircraft native and foreign, old and new. In one case very new as the Lynx Wildcat made its first public appearance at Yeovilton.

force overhead – if you missed the Belgians, next up were the Dutch, and if you somehow were looking in the wrong direction (and deaf) when their fighters roared overhead, the Danish contingent wasn’t far behind.

The jets of the F-16 Falcons were out in

the Volcanalia definitely took place on July 10. The great Avro Vulcan V aircraft took to the skies over Somerset on Yeovilton Air Day; and the

year, ear-defenders are always a good idea. The roar of the aircraft was often greeted by an echoing wail of infants; which was rapidly dampened by the sight of the aeronautics overhead.

And by the way, if you’re a parent thinking about taking little ’uns to Yeovilton Air Day next

But as loud as the jet engines might be, it is the explosive finale of the Commando Helicopter Display that demands full attention. The Commando Helicopter Force joined with their Fleet Air Arm brethren to show off with full pyrotechnic dazzle, and pull the day to a dramatic conclusion. Brigadier Mark Noble, Yeovilton’s Commanding Officer said: “I think it has been an amazing success. “We have put on an impressive flying display and from feedback so far I think people have enjoyed themselves. My personal highlight has to be the weather, as the sunshine allows everyone to enjoy whatever they would like to do.” For the Brigadier the event was a double success, as it also celebrated his respected air base’s 70th birthday and position within its local community.

Pictures: LA(Phot) Vicki Benwell Heron heralded

SEVEN decades of aviation deeds – and sacrifice – were remembered in June when the Navy’s largest air base marked its 70th birthday. It is 70 years since HMS Heron was formally commissioned as a fighter station for the Royal Navy’s air arm. Since then the air base has grown to one of the largest and busiest military airfields in Europe. It’s presently home to in excess of 100 aircraft, including the Lynx and Commando helicopter forces, plus more than 4,000 personnel.

Yeovil on Thursday June 17 (one day short of the actual 70th birthday).

Some 250 of the latter marched through the streets of

It was the largest parade by military personnel in the Somerset town since Yeovilton sailors and commandos marched in 2007 to mark the 45th anniversary of receiving the freedom of Yeovil. “June 18 doesn’t just mark the air station’s birthday, it also marks 70 years of a very strong relationship with the community,” explained the air station’s executive officer Cdr Tim Ferns. “Right from the very start in 1940, when the first personnel arrived and were billeted with the local vicar, HMS Heron has enjoyed fantastic support from the people of Yeovil and surrounding areas, who have not only put up with their noisy neighbour, but have welcomed, helped us and worked with us, either on the airfield or in the local industries that support what we do. “We hope this relationship will continue on for many

years to come.” Personnel from the Commando Helicopter Force, many

recently returned from Afghanistan, marched in desert combat kit. They were accompanied by the Band of the Royal Marines from CTCRM in Lympstone and a platoon from the Sea Cadet Corps.

After a short service led by the Rev Howard Davenport and a flypast of Yeovilton aircraft, the platoons, led by Brigadier Noble stepped off. The Guard was inspected by the Mayor, Cllr Phillip Chandler and the air base’s CO Brig Mark Noble. Brig Noble said: “The air station has played host to many

squadrons and aircraft types over the decades and to the men and women that fly, service, repair and support them. “It is now the size of a thriving small town in its own right, with some 4,400 uniformed and civilian staff working together, but it has always been a key part of the local community.

He continued: “I am very proud of the close bonds we have formed with the people of Yeovil over the years. Many of my people have made their homes in Yeovil and the local area. “Wherever they are in the world, the men and women of RNAS Yeovilton are proud to have local support and an event like the Freedom Parade gives us the opportunity to show our thanks.” After the parade there was a reception for all participants, including police and town councillors, followed by a buffet lunch.

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