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Rolling hills in land from RAF Leuchars..
Smokey Joe! Polish MiG-29
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Tucked away neatly on the eastern coast of Fife in Scotland is RAF Leuchars, a home to the Royal Air Forces three Tornado F3 Squadrons, 43 Squadron, 111 Squadron and 56 Operational Conversation Unit (OCU). Every year the only fighter station in Scotland hosts a battle of Britain Air Show. Attracting aircraft visitors from all over Europe to participate in the celebratory activities. The weather can be very changeable in this part of the world so I had my fingers crossed that, the weather did not turn against us!

 

Static aircraft displays were varied and interesting, some of the first fighter aircraft to

appear and break the peace an quiet, were a pair of Single seat F-15C Eagles from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. Air traffic control were competent at tucking the Eagles away

to ensure arrivals went smoothly. A short time later a Single Seat Eurofighter Typhoon

belonging to 3 Squadron of the Royal Air Force appeared, gleaming in the sunshine as it rolled down the runway after landing. Followed by a pair of Norwegian F-16 Fighting Falcons from 331 Squadron, a Single and Two Seater from the unit both had mock weapon loadings giving the F-16’s a familiar appearance as they would be seen during their day to day operations in Norway. Norwegian Falcons have a noticeably one tone light grey scheme as apposed to the more commonly seen Fighting Falcons, looking superb in the afternoon sunshine. But we dare reach for the sunglasses just yet,  and tempting fate with the so far, beautiful weather!  Various RAF Tornado GR.4’s swept over the field, after landing then taxiing off to hide in the Hardened shelters, which we would be there beds for the weekend, because they will be taking part in the Role Demo during the show. Other foreign static aircraft on display included, a Greek Air Force Mirage 2000BG from 332Mira, a German Air Force Tornado ECR from the unit JaboG 32.

As you would expect to see, they were also based Tornado F3’s on display, one of which was from 56 Squadron sporting a special ‘Flaming’ tail paint job.

 

F-16 Fighting Falcon presence was strong in the

flying display with both, Belgian and Dutch F-16’s rattling the hangers while performing high

energy manoeuvres! The Dutch Viper team have

always made the most out of their display slot and

this was just another day in the office for Gert-Jan Vooren, nicknamed "Goofy". Powering his

machine within close quarters to the small group that had accumulated in media area, providing

great pictures opportunities of the F-16’s glowing

orange afterburner with display smoke trailing behind on the light breeze!

The 2006 Eurofighter Typhoon display machine was provided by 29 Squadron of RAF Conningsby, Lincolnshire. With fluffy clouds a few over head, the Typhoon demo Pilot Squadron Leader Matt Elliot had plenty of  space for what can only be described as aerial ballet. The take off was an impressive short run down the runway and after rotation, pulling up into a vertical climb in full afterburner. Making full use of the length of the air field for every pass. The picture perfect blue sky provided some great opportunities to capture images of the Typhoon turning hand and pulling 9G’s!

 

2006 marked a very special occasion for both 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron as both wings were celebrating their 90th year of operational “stand up”. Although many aircraft types have come and gone in the years, Leuchars decisively decided they would do something during the days flying activities. In the heat haze of the eastern end of the runway, we could see Tornado F3’s emerging from behind the trees and various hardened shelters and occupying the holding areas short on runway 27; we were in for a treat! Their was a mixture of single air frame full after burner take off’s, pairs take off’s and also what is very rarely seen, a three ship! in total ten Tornado F3’s were launched low and fast into the blue sky; creating a spectacle as nine of the Tornado formed a

diamond nine formation with the tenth machine spotting, more than likely the base commander enjoying the best of aerial views. After performing such an impressive formation pass all Tornados returned and followed one after another during an airfield pass before breaking into the circuit for landing.

 

One of the 111 Squadron Tornados was sporting a celebratory scheme of the units colours black and yellow, with the Squadrons emblem on the tail and a lightning bolt protruding from the air intakes and pointing forwards to the tip of the nose.

 

An unfair match, but the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon display, had rivaled some aerial competitiveness.

This was in the shape, of a twin tailed, engine smoking, Russian Built Mikoyan Gurevich  MiG-29 from the Polish Air Force. Capt Artur Kalko from

the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing was not going to let the lack of computer wizardry get in the way of his perfection in the sky! A fellowphotographer said casually “Which end do you think he will take off from?” as it lined up on the 09 end of Leuchar’s now sun warmed Scottish runway... After a blast of dirty black smoke from the rear end of the cold war jet. I simply replied “There’s your answer!”. F-16 aircraft will in the majority of times use smoke pods, or smoke winders on the outer wing tips to emphasise their manoeuvres. The MiG’s tail pipes smoke was more than enough! We were treated with a satisfying low approach and after cleaning up the gear, accelerated quickly into a full reheat climb!

Happy 90th Birthday 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron!

 

Special Thanks :

 

The Corporate Communications Officer and all the personnel involved at Royal Air Force Leuchars.

LEUCHARS FIFE SCOTLAND UK 2006