With winds gusting strongly, the RAF parachute display team, the Falcons, opened the flying display at the 2017 RAF Cosford Airshow, dropping in from their Dornier 228 and struggling to hold onto their parachutes once on the ground. Light aircraft displays in the shape of the Grob G109 and a four-ship formation of Grob Tutors were up next to be followed by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the BBMF, a unique formation of four of the flight’s fighters (3 Spitfires and a Hurricane at Cosford) has been put together for displays in 2017.
With Battlefield Support as one of its main themes, pyrotechnics played a large part in this year’s RAF Cosford Airshow. After displays by an Avro Anson and Schleicher ASK-21 glider, a pair of BAC Strikemasters were the first act to display accompanied by explosions as they simulated ground attacks. Helicopters also featured heavily in the show and the first of these, the beautifully maintained Westland Whirlwind performed a simulated rescue – the role for which this helicopter is famous.
Aerobatics always entertain the public at airshows and a number of the UK's finest acts were on hand to provide the thrills and spills for the crowd at Cosford. The Blades, made up of ex-Red Arrows pilots, were followed by the Breitling Wingwalkers and Rich Goodwin’s spectacular display in his Pitts S-2S Special before the Red Arrows themselves roared in to wow the crowd. Technical issues meant the RAF Typhoon display could not take place, leaving the crowd disappointed and, as the weather closed in and a heavy rain shower developed, a flypast by the B-1B of the USAF was missed by most people as they quickly sought cover. More ground-shaking explosions accompanied the next display item, the ever-popular AH-64 Apache of the Army Air Corp's Attack Helicopter Display Team, the spectacular wall of flame finale almost warm enough to dry anyone still wet from the earlier downpour.
2017 marked the 70th anniversary of the formation of the USAF and to help commemorate this event, B-17G "Sally B", the last airworthy Flying Fortress in Europe, flew as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by US aircrews in WW2. Sally B's modern counterpart, the B-52H joined the show for a couple of flypasts and for a short time, as Sally B departed the show, the two aircraft could be seen in the distance sharing the sky. Peter Teichman managed to find probably the only patch of blue sky of the afternoon, in which to display his immaculate P-51D Mustang "Tall in the Saddle" and put on a spirited show. The Swiss Air Force PC-7 team demonstrated precision formation flying, despite the increasingly windy weather, before the Italian Air Force provided the only fast jet display of the show with their beautifully painted A-200 Tornado.
The penultimate act, a final round of explosions alongside another Battlefield Support simulation provided by the Antonov AN-2, Bell UH-1H, Hughes OH-6 Cayuse and Ov-10 Bronco was followed by another crowd favourite, the RAF Chinook Display Team, ably demonstrating the agility of the large helicopter for all to see.