Farnborough International 2004
|Dates||24th - 25th July 2004 (Public Days).|
|Weather||Bright and Sunny throughout most of the weekend with clear air that provided ideal conditions for good photography.|
|Comment||As shows go these days not bad value for money but the flying display came in for a good deal of criticism that in my opinion was fully justified. We now live in a 'nanny state' where there is far too much emphasis on safety over excitement and entertainment. Farnborough used to be at the forefront in providing the most exciting displays but not any more. Most of the fast jet displays were acceptable and the display by the South African Airways 747-400 was worth the admission price alone. That was in complete contrast to the rest of the very lacklustre display, especially the USAF contingent whose participation was a complete joke. If there's one organisation that has a fantastic aircraft (the B-1) but hasn't got a clue about displaying it well, then it's these guys. Quite what the point (and expense) of putting a B-1, B-52 and F-117 into the air for just one very distant flypast is hard to understand. On one of the trade days, despite its sophisticated navigation equipment, the B-52 couldn't even manage to reach the right airfield, doing its flypast at nearby Blackbushe instead!! A PR disaster for the Americans. Then again, it was the American influence that has resulted in the 'blame culture' in which we now live and the reason why there are now so few exciting displays.|
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The fast jet displays generally escaped the criticism levelled at other flying participants. There were good performances from the USAFE Lockheed-Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon, Swedish Air Force SAAB JAS-39C Gripen , Italian Air Force Panavia Tornado MLU, the superbly presented U.S. Navy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and a somewhat limited display by the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon T1.
Two classic jets from a bygone era, an ex-Red Arrows Folland Gnat and a Hawker Hunter.
The 60th anniversary of D-Day was represented by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and several warbirds on static display including this Spitfire and Mustang.
RAF Lockheed-Martin C-130J Hercules C5.
Lockheed-Martin/Alenia C-27J Spartan.
It was good to see at least a little imagination in the flying display that included this air refuelling simulation from an RAF TriStar and VC10.
Airbus supported the show as usual, this year displaying the A318 and A340-600.
Quite simply with the possible exception of the Antonov AN-225 that displayed at Farnborough '90, the performance by this South African Airways Boeing 747-400 was the best display by a large aircraft that I've ever seen. It was awesome, culminating in a spiral climb out that is something I've not seen since being performed by the Vulcan bomber many years ago. All was fully appreciated by the many spectators who gave spontaneous applause at the end, that in itself being very unusual.
With doubts being expressed over the futures of both the Farnborough air show and the Red Arrows, was this perhaps the last display at Farnborough by the world renowned aerobatic display team - who knows? What a tragedy it would be if that were to happen.
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