RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Wrexham Mackem on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 1:54 pm

Its time for another stroll down memory lane folks, revisiting some old scans of older photos. As always, they've been seen before on the old board, but I hope are fun to see again.

Every September for what seemed like forever, the RAF hosted four 'Battle of Britain at Home Days' in two pairs. Abingdon and St Athan on one weekend, and Finningley and Leuchars on another. The dates flexed around Farnborough every other year, and I can't remember whether the two weekends alternated - somebody please chip in.

I lived more or less equidistant between Finningley and Leuchars, but Finningley being 'the biggest single-day military airshow in the country' meant it was my show of choice. A shame they both had to happen on the same day, but that's another discussion.

My first event was 1984. Much to my annoyance when I realised what I'd missed, especially the legendary '77 event.

Never mind, here's 84 to start.. bear with it as long as its interesting, this may be a long post..

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Taxiway along a section of the crowd line was probably the best feature of the show ground; you'll note from now on there'll be lots of pics of taxying aircraft!
And of course it wasn't unusual to see at least two Herks, here probably demo machine and Falcons dropship
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the great Ken Wallis, when Little Nellie's 007 role was still reasonably well known, showing how to make an autogyro display entertaining
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part of the traditional station flypast, more of which later
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this was full of passengers. Different times!
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back to the static to finish
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and on to 1985
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the late great Brian Lecomber's machine. Together with Vic Norman, Richard Goode et al taking part in an aerobatic competition in the morning flying display. Lecomber won, all subjective as the whole thing was being judged by the station commander.
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Nick Grace in the front, Raymond Baxter in the back, filming for the BBC's coverage of the event
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not rare to see Concordes at airshows back then, but Air France specimens were far more unusual. Finningley was the only place I saw them I think.
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an IAT 81 zap still in place here
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1986
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soft I know, but interesting as the shot shows the Chinook on the grass between crowd line and runway. The runway was a long way away.
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and seamlessly on to 1987.
'87 had an SR-71 flying display programmed, but the weather gradually deteriorated until about mid afternoon and the heavens opened. The flying was then abandoned. A shame, as a Blackbird never came close to returning.

Something tasty, if omnipresent in 87 to start
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1988

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who was to know what the future held in store for this aeroplane at this airfield
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An engine shut-down and swift landing mid display for this Jetstream
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1989 now, and proof that nothing sparkled like a Kodachrome in the sunshine
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No 1990, because me, every man and his dog went to Abingdon as their BoB show of choice that year, but 1991 was great. Gulf war sandy stuff aplenty. And one very very special guest display team.
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the station flypast, which was an ever-present in the Finningley shows I attended. Preceded by a Sea King and Wessex of the SAR Training Flight, and a box of Bulldogs from the YUAS, were these three sets from the rest of the home team
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and that special display team? well, who'd have thought only a couple of years before we'd get to see the Russian Knights over here. Sadly not (yet) repeated.
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And that folks, is all (!) I have for you. Finningley carried on for a handful more years, the unshown highlight being the Blue Angels visit in 1992, although the weather was dreadful, utter clag. Like the Russian Knights but a little more inexplicably, they have also failed to return to the UK since. The airshow of course carried on, moving lock stock and barrel to Waddington, where it went on to expand to two days and from strength to strength.

What nostalgia-fest could be complete without a flick through some programmes, so here is a snap shot or two. Starting with some ace Hardy covers. And 1985!
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(I had the full size poster of the 87 event with SR-71 art, sadly lost in house moves, and never made it to framing and hanging)

the '85 aerobatic competition, results carefully recorded!
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before we all get overcome by rose-tinted nostalgia, I have to share an overwhelming memory of Finningley. For anyone who perpetuates the total myth that RIAT loses crowd line to enclosures every year.. you ought to have tried Finningley! The only way to get a decent spec near the intersection was to pay to enter the seated enclosure. Even on the front row, the barrier height was awkward, which meant having to pop out out your seat like a meerkat to shoot anything passing, often to shouts of "Sitttaaaaahhhhn!!" in a S Yorks accent. As you can see from this map, that may not be to scale, there was very little free crowd line...
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Breitling Wingwalkers inauspicious beginnings sponsored by one of the crappest cars of my lifetime :lol:
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and finally....
its a shame the Kodak Aerobatic Team never developed
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If you're still with me, I hope you enjoyed a long trek down memory lane. Halcyon days :smile:

cheers
Nige.
Last edited by Wrexham Mackem on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby JJC on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 3:15 pm

Thanks for posting these!

Grew up attending Waddington shows with my father and older brother, whilst hearing many amazing tales of the Finningley shows. Great to have some of those stories fleshed out!

I know there’s a fair few of those brochures tucked away at home, fabulous artwork!

JJC
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby iainpeden on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 4:12 pm

And we thought they'd go on for ever. The years when you could do 10 big military shows in a season.
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby The Flying Barrel on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 4:48 pm

Ahhhh great memories, was my 'local' show, thanks for sharing.
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby BigClick67 on Fri 27 Oct 2017, 4:55 pm

Very interesting post - thanks for scanning and sharing all these superb slides! :clap:
Unfortunately I never made it to Finningley and looking through these tells me there is another airshow chapter I have completely missed so far. What a shame. :shock:
Concorde shot no.4 is just brilliant! :up:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Westy on Sat 28 Oct 2017, 6:11 pm

Great post :clap:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Big Eric on Sat 28 Oct 2017, 6:53 pm

Westy wrote:Great post :clap:


Yes - it is a great post, however every time someone comments on it then it takes several minutes to be able to read the latest post (due to the huge amount of images that have to load !).

Wonderful stuff - my 1st Finningley show was in 1968. :smile:
Big Eric

Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Finningley Boy on Sun 29 Oct 2017, 6:30 am

Outstanding, for most of my years to 1994 it was the local show. My first, best I can determine, was 1962!

FB :biggrin:
I have danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings!
Finningley Boy

Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby ikarus on Sun 29 Oct 2017, 8:29 am

Happy memories , visiting these air shows , the journey across the country - not too far , but seemed to always be crappy weather for this event , failing daylight , and horrendous traffic control or traffic congestion getting in or out. It was quicker to get from Lancashire than get in or out of the show ! :biggrin:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Oldtower on Sun 29 Oct 2017, 9:13 pm

I noted the Phantom FGR2 in the 88 section, that was the same crew that unfortunetly perished in the crash at Abingdon just under one week later.
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby st24 on Mon 30 Oct 2017, 10:24 pm

Wonderful stuff Nige, another great trip down memory lane. Finningley was an epic day out for sure and come rain (usual!) or shine ultimately enjoyable for the huge crowds - 100,000 on several occasions . That said '84 had decent weather and '86 was a stunner as was '91, the less said about '80, '81, '87 and '92 the better!
The shows did alternate Nige - '84 Fin was on the 1st, then Fbh' 8-9th then Abingdon/St Athan on BoB day 15th. '86 They swapped with Fin/Leuchars on the 20th and Abo/St Athan on the 13th (awful weather) around the Fbh' weekend (lovely weather!). '88 they didn't rotate around Fbh', they followed the 2 weekends after with Fin on the 17th and Abingdon a very late 23rd.. The same happened in 1990 though Finningley was the late one on the 22nd.
You caaan't trust the system... Maaan!
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Wrexham Mackem on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 10:24 am

Yeah, during the course of putting that post together it all came back to me Geoff; that pattern of alternating every other year and also stretching to accommodate Farnborough between the two in even years.

You look back on these things and overwhelmingly you remember the stuff you saw, the likelihood that any event amongst a long season of military shows might turn up something none of the others got. Either through luck, squadron connections, somebody knowing someone etc. It was always worth going.

I also remember the, well, chaos, in the organisation sometimes. Not just Finningley here. But crowds were huge, and compared to today where people moan about absolutely everything like which car park they're in at Cosford or the fact that security at RIAT slowed them down ten minutes in those days it could take hours to get in or out of a show such as this.

Getting in, as now, was a doddle if you got there well before the advertised opening time. Getting out on the other hand..! FInningly was very late in the season but it was common to be still on the airfield queuing in full darkness. Could've got back out of the car and had a night shoot :biggrin:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Tangoringo on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 12:02 pm

Wrexham Mackem wrote:Yeah, during the course of putting that post together it all came back to be Geoff; that pattern of alternating every other year and also stretching to accommodate Farnborough between the two in even years.

You look back on these things and overwhelmingly you remember the stuff you saw, the likelihood that any event amongst a long season of military shows might turn up something none of the others got. Either through luck, squadron connections, somebody knowing someone etc. It was always worth going.

I also remember the, well, chaos, in the organisation sometimes. Not just Finningley here. But crowds were huge, and compared to today where people moan about absolutely everything like which car park they're in at Cosford or the fact that security at RIAT slowed them down ten minutes in those days it could take hours to get in or out of a show such as this.

Getting in, as now, was a doddle if you got there well before the advertised opening time. Getting out on the other hand..! FInningly was very late in the season but it was common to be still on the airfield queuing in full darkness. Could've got back out of the car and had a night shoot :biggrin:


Even getting in was a prob too. Spent many an ( Un ) happy hour stuck in an old Saab 93 in traffic in the middle of Bawtry whingeing at my dad that we should have left earlier!!
Some of those images have brought back such great memories and Finningley is one of the main reasons I got in to aviation and my current job. Funnily enough, one of the Rothmans/Marlboro’ team ended up being one of my sim instructors when I was studying for my CPL.
The photo of the Mig 15/Lim 2 also got me thinking as the first time I saw it, it was underneath a Chinook being lifted from a military collectors base ( Budge construction? ) in Retford to the airshow. I believe it then went on to the FAA museum at Yeovilton? Must try and find my photos of the underslung Mig.
Anyway, thankyou Nige for posting. You’ve brought back many fond memories from your selection.
ATB
PS Notice there are no photos from the airshow that never was. The fogged out one in the mid 80’s :lol: Rememember being so gutted that day as the skies were clear about 5 miles further W.
Tangoringo

Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby st24 on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 1:32 pm

Wrexham Mackem wrote:I also remember the, well, chaos, in the organisation sometimes. Not just Finningley here. But crowds were huge, and compared to today where people moan about absolutely everything like which car park they're in at Cosford or the fact that security at RIAT slowed them down ten minutes in those days it could take hours to get in or out of a show such as this.
:

This. Have discussed this widely with others and the fact that everything has to be instantaneous, clinical and ordered these days. Social media has a lot to answer for in that anyone can instantly tell anyone anything about the slightest tiny inconvenience and it suddenly becomes global news. "we had to wait..." "we were asked to follow some rules.." "we were only told a thousand times not to do it but did anyway.." you know that kind of crap. Back in the day we just got on with it knowing full well that thousands, nay tens of thousands of other folk are in the same boat. Consequently events are petrified about bad press and we end up with advance tickets, over marketing, airshows selling out a year in advance and capped attendance so that everyone has their own toilet, their own over priced burger, their own customer satisfaction agent and only have a 10 minute wait to get in or out to ensure a seamless joy filled day that we can tick a smiley or frowny face satisfaction survey...
Progress eh?!! :grin:
Keep em coming Nige, take us back to carefree days!!
You caaan't trust the system... Maaan!
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Wrexham Mackem on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 2:53 pm

Well, exactly. Facebook would have been in meltdown in them days :grin:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Spiny Norman on Wed 01 Nov 2017, 6:11 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post these, great stuff. Worth it alone for that fast-moving Buccaneer.
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Spock on Fri 03 Nov 2017, 11:25 am

Brilliant post!
I was at most of them except 1985 as was down the Falkland Islands.

I worked on the show days, but managed to get some photos of my own, will have to have a scout around in the loft for the old photos.

Thanks for sharing, bought back some great memories.

Trev :clap: :clap:
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Arthur Tee on Fri 03 Nov 2017, 1:05 pm

Those 'Flamewinders' on the F-16 (well there was definitely more than smoke) - bloody good shots! :clap:

Arthur
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Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby Reddog111 on Fri 03 Nov 2017, 3:12 pm

Superb post, thank you so much for sharing these gems.

It takes time to scan and upload these, much appreciated.

I might have to scroll through these again, it's worth it.

Want more!
Reddog111

Re: RAF Finningley Airshows; 1984 - 91

Postby SCARECROW 451 on Sun 05 Nov 2017, 10:54 pm

Great shots, my first one was 79, but in the late 80's early 90's we use to do there on the Friday night then drive to Leuchars for the Sat !!
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