Leuchars Airshow signs off in style

The synchro pair of the Red Arrows caused some sharp intakes of breath with their close flying.

More than 40,000 people saluted the 65th and final RAF Leuchars Airshow on Saturday.

The sun shone on a captivated audience who enjoyed aerobatic and ground displays celebrating the attack and protect role that the RAF provides for the UK.

The day concluded with a poignant ceremony recognising the Typhoon transition to RAF Lossiemouth next year.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight joined Typhoons from 1 (Fighter) and 6 Squadron on the tarmac to receive the final salute from Station Commander and Air Officer Scotland Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew as a Typhoon of 1 (Fighter) Squadron from RAF Leuchars and a Tornado of 617 Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth concluded the show with an impressive flypast.

RAF Typhoon display pilot Flight Lieutenant Jamie Norris showed off the stunning maneuverability of the aircraft with an exhilarating flying display which was dedicated to the communities around Leuchars.

Meanwhile, perennial crowd favourites the Red Arrows flew with just eight aircraft after ‘Red Nine’ Flight Lieutenant Mike Child was given the day off to be with his wife and baby daughter born just a day earlier.

The Red Arrows’ display of speed, agility and teamwork included a special Lancaster formation to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the legendary Dambusters raid flown by 617 Squadron, now based at RAF Lossiemouth.

The Austrian Air Force gave a spectacular Quick Reaction Alert role demonstration with two Typhoons intercepting a Hercules and ‘forcing’ it to land.

This display was the first time the Austrian Typhoons had landed in a Eurofighter Typhoon partner nation.

With a fuel leak already forcing the cancellation of the popular Vulcan bomber, other last-minute changes included the cancellation of the Breitling Wing Walkers and the RAF Falcons parachute display team due to high winds.

Gallery: 65th and final RAF Leuchars Airshow

But other highlights of a strong line-up of international military and civilian participants included a tribute to RAF Leuchars’ maritime heritage with a display by a Catalina, and, of course, another poignant display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Ground attractions included performances by the Military Wives.

Air Commodore Mayhew said: “This year’s show has provided a fitting tribute to mark the 65th Battle of Britain at home day here at RAF Leuchars and also sadly our last airshow.

“It was fantastic to have had the opportunity to celebrate our history with the many thousands of people who have come to show support for us today.

“We are delighted to have welcomed the Austrian Air Force for their first UK display, showing the different role their Typhoon aircraft play policing the skies in Austria.

“It was very fitting that RAF operational fast jets, the Typhoon and Tornado GR4, were able to conclude the show, underlining the extensive RAF contribution to current operations at home and abroad and the transition of the Typhoon squadrons from Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth during 2014.

“I am especially grateful to all those who put so much hard work into the planning of the airshow and to the emergency services, Fife Council and the transport providers who have helped us make today an enjoyable event for everyone.”

Airshow director Squadron Leader Jonathan Greenhowe said: “We have shown the best of British with the Royal Air Force aerobatic team the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Typhoon multi-role aircraft along with our friends adding some international flavour.

“The Austrians have been a great highlight and, of course, the Swedish Historic Flight with the Viggen. On the static line we had some great displays with the VC 10 from the days of old right up to the future with Voyager.

“I think we have signed Leuchars off in style with the 2013 airshow.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland Fife Division said there had been “minor problems” for traffic leaving the base.

“There were some issues with signage, but no major problems,” he said.