Loads of memories. Best of all is when I was there as a young Sgt in the ATC with me mate Dave. We went every year starting on the Wednesday to help set up the RAF Town Show then showing VIP’s round on Thurs/Fri and manning the displays on air days. One year, maybe 1996 the Saturdays show was washed out with torrential rain yet oddly the RAF Falcons still decided to jump but not until the Harrier GR7 did it’s bit. I rained so hard many had gone home and the rest had filed into shops, pubs, restaurants and tents just to stay dry...but not me and Dave. We had our fluorescent jackets on over our uniforms and before we knew it we had our own Harrier display. The pilot focussed on us as the centre datum and even asked us to wave over the tannoy/comms link he had to talk to the commentary team. It was awesome. He even thanked me and Dave for watching and said see you later before spinning on the hover then doing that wheels up climb out that used to end every GR7 display. We were covered in wet sand and by now surrounded by the local radio station team who were asking us how we felt having a display to ourselves. Can’t remember what we said as it was probably un-broadcastable.
The outright best display was the flanker though. I’d seen the Russian Knights at Finningley a few years earlier and a few of the Test Pilots Duo displays around the country, Anotoly on his own was amazing though. He had no concept of display line or for that matter principles of flight or physics he just kicked the hell out of the big thing and seemingly did one... off in the distance leaving the crowd woo-ing and the commentator almost speechless. He spieled on about how he had enough fuel on board to get back to Moscow even after the display as long as he kept to the direct heading he was on and had had clearance on across Europe. Then we heard a crack and looked over to the piers he skimmed over them both seemingly by feet and dipped beneath the height of the pier and pulled up mid crowd line and went vertical again, but rolling this time until all you could see was his vapour trail. Even though it was a sunny day you couldn’t actually make out an aircraft shape at the end of the vapour trail he gained so much height. I watched this display stood next to that years Harrier Display pilot handing out FUTURE PILOT wings out to kids while he signed autographs and lifted kiddies in and out of the cockpit at the top of the stairs of the plastic Harrier. He just went, “Sh!t the bed!” , he then looked at me with raised eyebrows and we both reaslised that, a)We’d ignored the kids for the entire length of the display and b) because we’d ignored them didn’t mean they’d gone anywhere and they heard him say what he’d said. Needless to say he was a wee bit apologetic to some of those parents who brought it up but to be honest on the whole they understood his point. Haha!
I always wanted to have a go in the Catalina when it did sea landings. One year we’d been promised a jolly in a Navy Sea King but that very weekend saw a Wessex from RAF Valley horrifically come down and take the lives of some fellow cadets and there was a temporary ban on cadets flying in rotor aircraft.