Saturday, 25 September 2010

RAF Leuchars air show

When my wee brother was up to stay in August we visited the East Fortune airfield and museum and while we were there saw a flyer for the Leuchars air show. It transpired that neither Andy, Theo or I had been to the Leuchars air show and we decided we must go. Andy had been to RAF Fylingdales air shows when he was a wee boy but Theo and I reckoned Leuchars could compete with whatever Yorkshire had managed to put on.

I was looking forward to it but surprised myself by how excited I was to see the planes and the demonstrations. I was also reminded of what it means to have weapons that can destroy hundreds if not thousands of lives.

The Vulcan - which can carry nuclear warheads - was chilling to see up close. Its size and shape were menacing and the sound it made as it flew over our heads did induce fear. I imagined what it would be like if you were hearing that as someone who wasn't in an airfield in Scotland and I have no doubt it would be a terrifying experience.

I was also reminded though of the day to day work of the RAF. I would classify myself as a pacifist but if anything this makes me feel even more strongly about how we support and see our troops. It is governments that decide to go to war - not pilots. The demonstrations by the Red Arrows were fantastic in their skill and the commentary reminded the audience that all of the pilots serve on the front line at one time or another and one pilot who was flying has a partner currently serving in Afghanistan.

I had never seen the Red Arrows live - and it was an incredible display. Andy really enjoyed it too - and I think was a bit tickled by how much I enjoyed it. I am not usually into machines or being enthralled by trains, planes and automobiles but I was gobsmacked by what was on display.

I think that the layout contributed to this - we were incredibly close to the displays. Andy said that he had never been so close at Fylingdales.

My favourite part though was the fly by in honour of the few who fought and won the Battle of Britain.

The Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane were beautiful and the sound they made was such a contrast to the modern machines we had witnessed to that point. I always suspect that we are a hairs breadth away from fairness to fascism - it seems so easy for people, society, governments to lose a grip on being humane [you only need to look at France and its treatment of the Roma]and slip easily into racism, xenophobia and hate. The fly by was a strong reminder that many people, normal everyday people, gave up their freedoms for us to be able to stand at an air show and enjoy our Saturday afternoon.

And, for that matter, enjoy fish and chips and an evening of xbox playing - because that is exactly what we did. We met up with Theo who had gone along to the show with the air cadets he stayed over with us in Stirling. It is great having him to stay and it was really good to hear all his thoughts and comments on the show - I learnt a lot - he has a huge amount of knowledge that helped put what I had seen into context.

It was a great day and would very much recommend it - I would definitley go back as it was something you really could see time and time again.

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