41st Bristol Balloons, August 8-11th 2019. Ashton Court, Avon. Report by Colin and Sheila Coulthard. This annual event is the largest Balloon Meet in the United Kingdom; held at the picturesque Ashton Court Estate every year in mid August. Local manufacturer Cameron Balloons is famed worldwide for developing the modern hot-air balloon and creating many of the 'special shapes' that make these events so visually attractive to the public. In contrast to the recently completed French meeting the essential calm weather stayed away with storm force winds over the weekend restricting free flights to a minimum.
GEMAB19, Chambley Aerodrome, Lorraine, France - 26 July - 4 August 2019 Report by Peter and Kim Davison This, the sixteenth such meet, celebrated thirty years since the first in 1989. Metz born Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier was the world's first aeronaut in 1783 and Philippe Pilatre still coordinates the event; supported by the Region Grande Est with a budget of three million Euros though the estimated local benefit is ten fold. Visitor numbers are estimated at 400,000. Although extremely weather dependent, after a rough start, 2019 brought hot dry days with light winds from Sunday onwards. On the morning of the Grand Line 456 balloons lifted within an hour in still conditions; filling the sky overhead and equalling a previous record. Similar conditions heralded the famous 'night glow' on the Wednesday evening.
Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, UK Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard What a difference a day makes. Friday was almost washed out with very heavy rain and a very low cloud-base. Saturday, however, dawned brighter, not perfect, but fine enough for a full day of flying fully up to global aspirations. The 'special attractions being a joint display from the Red Arrows and Patrouille de France, a British Airways centenary flypast with a retro-schemed 747 leading the reds on their final UK display prior to a three month North America tour. Not satisfied with that, the 70th anniversary of NATO allowed a mixed formation; fairly widely spaced, comprising various NATO aircraft. Add in over 200 visiting aircraft and the show delivered what is widely known as the world's biggest and best military airshow.
RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, United Kingdom, 13th July 2019 Report by Peter and Kim Davison Such is the star quality of this annual Naval celebration that it continues to survive the general reduction in military airshows across Europe. Despite being close to the Air Tattoo the crowds and exhibits continue to converge to celebrate Naval aviation, particularly in regard to rotary and coastal patrol assets. With the co-located Fleet Air Arm Museum and a strong educational agenda it also inspires repeat visits and maritime loyalty from an eager public.
Paris Air Show 2019, Le Bourget, France 17-23 June 2019 Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard Following some rather erratic wet weather in the region it was a pleasure to see some sunshine at this year's show. Well attended despite some gloomy forecasts for the industry and the ongoing problems with some engine safety and the numerous issues at Boeing. No 737MAX to show but a public debut for the long awaited KC-46 tanker in Europe. The commercial highlights fell to Europe with new Airbus types dominant and a star turn from the Russian Beriev water bombing amphibian.
Royal Netherlands Air Force Display, Volkel AB, 14-15 June 2019 Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard The Volkel show always attracts interesting visitors, large crowds and numerous attractions. This year was well up to standard, particularly highlighting the very recent arrival of F-35 Lightnings for the Dutch Air Force. The weather had been wet and changeable but brightened up on cue for Friday afternoon in particular. The based F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons putting up ten aircraft for an airfield attack along with troops and helicopters, flares and pyro-technics.
Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK 2-5th June 2019 Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard As the home of the Imperial War Museum and Duxford Aviation Society the venue need little introduction. This rare gathering of airworthy Douglas Dakotas had been eagerly awaited as the setting off location for a re-enactment of the mass air drop of parachutists in Normandy on D-Day to commemorate the 75th Anniversary on 6th June 2019. This airborne and seaborne invasion enabling the allied powers to secure a presence on the European mainland; thereby assisting in the liberation of Europe and the end of World War Two.