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Waddington International Airshow 2012 (Waddington, Lincolnshire)

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Annual air show held at RAF Waddington in Lincoln.

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      16.07.2012 12:28
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      One of the UK's best airshows, well worth a visit.

      ***Introduction***

      For the last four years the family and I have attended the RAF Waddington International Airshow in Lincoln. The show is held annually over the first weekend in July, this year it was held on the 30th of June and the 1st of July. I attended the show on Saturday the 30th June 2012.

      ***Admission and Information***

      This year I was lucky enough to be brought a family ticket as a birthday present. An advance family ticket for two adults and two children (5-15yrs) costs £52, or the tickets can be purchased individually, an adult ticket is £21, child (5-15) £11 and under 5's are free. It is cheaper to purchase tickets in advance as on the gate admission is slightly more expensive and a family ticket is not available. Also buying on the gate runs the risk of there being no tickets left. Tickets can be brought online from November onwards till 2 weeks before the show, and it is worth bearing in mind that there is a postage charge added to the ticket price, I usually buy my tickets from the local branch of Morrison when they go on sale at the end of May as I begrudge paying postage charges, tickets can also be purchased from branches of Santander and HSBC and are on sale up to the day before the airshow. For more information regarding tickets it is best to check out the official airshow website. My information is only valid for the airshow that has just passed, but prices for the last 4 years have remained fairly consistent as have the availability of the tickets.

      There are also tickets available for private enclosures ranging from an extra £6 on top of admission to £170 for a seat in the Lord Trenchard Pavilion, I have never purchased enclosure tickets but from what I can see from the outside you get a seat near the runway where you can watch the planes land and take off and some where to sit undercover in case of bad weather or the sun gets to much. I am hoping that next year I will get a seat in one of the private enclosures as it would be nice to have a place to sit and relax in during the course of the day, tickets for private enclosures can only be brought online from the airshow website.

      Coach and tour operators also do day trips to the airshow, details of the dates, prices and coach operators are available through links on the airshow website. My eldest daughter and her boyfriend travelled down with a local coach company, they had already purchased entrance tickets but it still cost them £25 each for a seat on the coach.

      There is lots of information available on the official website www.waddingtonsairshow.co.uk, so if you want any more information about tickets etc have a look on there, now onto my experience on 30th June 2012.

      ***Experience***

      I prepared a picnic to take in the car as the majority of the food and drink stands at the airshow are overpriced and the food is of very poor quality. We then set off, for my husband and I it is usually an hour and a half journey, we usually use the satnav till we reach the A1 and then follow the signs from there onwards, the airshow is very well sign posted making the whole journey very easy and relaxing. We set off at 7am on a very wet day, hoping that the clouds would break and we would be in for another scorching airshow. When we arrived at 8.30 there were no queues for the car parks our tickets were checked and we were directed onto a large sports field, the gates open at 8am so we were quite near the entrance, which is always a bonus as it makes the journey back to the car for dinner slightly shorter.

      Unfortunately it was still raining so we donned our rain coats, put up our umbrellas and hoped for the best. Upon entrance to the airbase there is a large static display of planes and helicopters, I honestly can not name all the planes and helicopters but that did not stop me from finding them very interesting, especially the Nimrod, it is huge, while walking around the static displays the rain stopped and the sun broke through the cloud cover, things were looking up. There are two large static displays at either end of the base and planes parked all the way up one side of the runway, all the plane displays have qr codes that can be scanned for more information about each specific aircraft, we did not use that facility but I can imagine it would be useful to an enthusiast. Some of the planes on display were a Boeing 737 from the Australian air Force, a F4F Phantom from the German Air Force, and a DA20 Falcon ECM from the Norwegian Air force, there are also many other planes from around the world and from private collectors, the full list is available in the website. Some of the air craft do have walk throughs, but the queues for these range from large to massive and are only worth queuing up for if you are an enthusiast.

      The air display began at 10.30 it usually kicks of with a parachute display, but the weather was too bad for that at the start of the day. The highlights for me were the Typhoon FGR4, it is epically loud and amazingly manoeuvrable. The Red Arrows were also flying; they did some nice tight manoeuvres and made some nice sky drawings with the red, white and blue smoke, unfortunately they did not seem up to there usual standard and were easily eclipsed by the Italian Air Forces Frecce Tricolori, I have to admit they were amazing they flew through the air in tight formation and the sky drawings they did with there white, red and green smoke were really nice and tight. I do think an opportunity was missed to do an Olympic themed sky drawing (sky drawing is my word for it, if anyone knows the right one let me know and I will edit) unfortunately the Vulcan that was scheduled to fly at the airshow had cancelled due to a severe incident involving both port engines, I was really disappointed as I had seen the Vulcan last year and it was one of the highlights of the air display for me.

      My husbands favourite part of the air display is the memorial flight by the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire, this is a beautiful display they do a few fly pasts as a group, incredibly low to the ground (or so it seems) and then the Lancaster splits off while the Hurricane and Spitfire do manoeuvres together, then the Lancaster comes back and flies past with its bomb bay doors open, it is an amazing sight and one the whole family enjoys every year, my husband was most disappointed though as his camera lens was misbehaving and he was unable to get pictures this year. The memorial flight was quickly followed by the Typhoon FGR4 which after the grace and beauty of the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire was a rather deafening slap in the ears, but still enjoyable. There were many other fly bys and displays but those were the highlights for me.

      There a lot of trade and exhibition stands dotted around the airbase, my favourite was the vintage vehicle exhibition, I really enjoyed looking at the old cars and my favourite was a pre war Rolls Royce, the owner had done it up to an amazingly high standard, he showed us under the bonnet and it was spotless. There was also a display of military vehicles that was interesting to look at, some were privately owned while others were owned by the MOD, the owners and staff with the vehicles were more than happy to chat about there vehicles, and there uses and how long it took to restore them etc. There was also a small camp of very enthusiastic WW1 and WW2 memorabilia collectors, they were sat outside there authentic looking tents in period costumes surrounded by there collections of guns, grenades, medical equipment, cooking equipment etc and they were also very eager to chat and let you handle the guns etc... The camp was smaller then usual this year but there was still a good turn out of German and British encampments.

      The trade stands were numerous and as long as you were looking for, sun hats, sun glasses, fold out seating, war memorabilia, models of planes and helicopters, army surplus clothing, binoculars and general over priced tat you were covered. Bizarrely there was a cash converters stand too. There are also a lot of food stalls selling the usual over priced burgers, sausages and chips. It was also nice to see fresh fruit stalls selling fruit salads and strawberries and cream. There were also a lot of sweet stalls.

      The exhibition stands were very good and professionally run, if you are not careful you will go home weighed down with free posters, badges, stickers, hats, key rings etc the only ones my husband accepted anything off were the Rolls Royce exhibition where he got a keying, a small pin badge, a clippie thing for his identity card at work, a base ball cap and a small sports bag. He thought this was a good haul as everything was extremely high quality. There are also a large amount of charity stands so make sure you come with a bag of pound coins to donate to the charities of your choice, my advice is set a donation limit and stick to it as there are a lot of stands.

      Another attraction for my family in past years has been the fun fair, this is quite reasonably priced at £3 a ride and looks quite safe, this year we did not spend much time on the funfair as the children are a bit old for this sort of ride, they prefer theme parks.

      Through out the day there was the constant noise of the air show radio which I was unable to hear clearly unless we were really close to the air traffic control tower where it is based. Each flying display had a commentary from a member of the team, explaining all the formations and capabilities of the planes, again this was only really clear if you were close the air traffic control tower.

      The noise from some of the planes is incredibly loud and you can buy earplugs from the programme sale stands for 50p or some rather large ear defenders from trade stands for around £5. I personally don't buy any ear defenders as I enjoy the noise of the planes, but if my children were younger or if they asked for them I would get them ear defenders as I saw some very alarmed toddlers when the Typhoon was flying.

      Disabled access seems very good; the airfield is all on one level and lots of disabled parking is available right in the heart of the airshow, so if you were inclined you could sit close to your car and see all the air displays easily. There was also a massive amount of mobility scooters whizzing around so it is necessary to keep an eye out for these as some people don't think it is necessary to drive around people on foot.

      There is a large medical presence with paramedics driving up and down all day and there are also 4 medical bays spotted around the airshow, so you are never far from help if you have a medical problem. There is also a lost child bay for if you misplace your youngsters, the first year we attended the children were given wrist tags with our contact details on and we showed them the lost child bay in the centre of the air ground to go to if we became separated. This is still a service they provide for families with young children, they announce over speakers if they find your child.

      Souvenir programmes are available for £5 and these give more information on the aircraft displays and a schedule of the air display.

      As visitors to a working airbase we are asked to respect all the property and to not litter as litter can be sucked into the engines of planes and do massive damage. There are plenty of litter bins around and a couple of crews of air cadets litter picking. Smoking is not permitted in the vicinity of air craft and is not allowed inside buildings, although I did see a few people smoking while walking around the stalls, the only litter I saw was cigarette ends, so to all you smokers out there your cigarette ends are still classed as litter, stub it out and bin it.

      Barbecues, windbreaks, gazebos and tents are not allowed on any part of the airbase or parking areas and any one found using them will be asked to remove them, failure to do so will end with you being escorted from the site.

      The toilet facilities are numerous; they are portable toilets and are kept clean and to an unusually high standard for a public event.

      We left the airshow around 4.30 and had no problems exiting, the way out the airshow and through Lincoln is well sign posted. It is recommended that you stagger your departure times to avoid delays, but as you can't tell when the rest of the visitors are leaving I think it is best to use common sense. Although the air display finishes at 5.30 all the stands, toilets and food stalls remain open till 7.30.

      ***Conclusion***

      Overall I think this is a fantastic family day out, it is well planned and all the staff and aircrew are helpful and polite. I sincerely recommend that you give it a go. Some tips that I have picked up over the years are to take a picnic, apply liberal amounts of sun cream as when the sun does come out it is incredibly strong, take plenty of cash as there are lots of stalls (there are cash machines available) have a designated meeting point in case any of your group get separated, wear some good footwear and comfy clothes as the day involves a lot of walking and believe me your legs will ache and most of all Mr H make sure your camera lenses are working before you get to the airshow.


      Thank you for reading, if you have any questions leave a comment and I will do my best to answer you.

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