The chances of a Headlining Airshow taking place in Lincolnshire have had a significant change today, but its not quite confirmed yet.
The RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT) has announced that it has reached an agreement “in principle” with the Royal Air Force (RAF) to organise an airshow at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. It’s not the final go ahead, but this will announcement confirms they are planning for an Airshow that the RAF are unlikely to turn down when it becomes crunch time. This is the most positive news to come since the announcement that there would be no Waddington Airshow in 2015 due to runway works, which came before the even more disappointing news that the Airshow would not return there in 2016 or beyond. When the announcement was made about Waddington Airshow being scrapped for good they did also state they were looking into the possibility of holding an Airshow at Scampton instead. However I must admit I was rather sceptical, thinking the chances of that happening were very low indeed and vocalising that opinion whenever I discussed the topic. So I am delighted to say that I may well have been wrong and the odds of a Scampton Airshow are now looking rather healthy as the 2015 MoD review of Airshows concluded that RAF Scampton was an ideal location for an Airshow.
The Charity undertaking the planning also organise the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and in the past 11 years almost £3 million has been awarded to initiatives and projects that promote the Royal Air Force, support its people and encourage young people to be aviation minded. RAFCT Chairman, Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, said: “The East of England is a heartland of the Royal Air Force and has an enormous number of aviation enthusiasts. Bringing a new airshow to the area is an exciting prospect that will involve a lot of planning and support. Our Charity is delighted to rise to the challenge of staging an aviation spectacle befitting an RAF station that was once the base of the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron and is now home to the world famous Red Arrows.”
So how long do we have to wait for the Airshow if it gets the final goahead? The answer could be: “Until September 2017.” This is what RAFCT say is the earliest they can organise a show for and this is consistent with the timetable Waddington used to plan with, as according to them you need at least 12 months to organise an Airshow and given its an entirely new location, September 2017 at the earliest is more than fair.
As for the Airshow being organised by RAFCT instead of the RAF as Waddington used to be, is, in my opinion the correct way to go to ensure longevity and minimise the impact on RAF Operations. I do not believe the Waddington model was sustainable in modern times, it relied upon a lot of operational manpower being available for the Airshow window each year. Also as far as I understand it the RAF can not be seen to profit in any way from an event, so if they took a huge chunk of turnover to cover operational staffing, questions could be asked and transparently calculating the cost to RAF would be quite difficult. Then that calculation would subject to the opinions of a number of different people, each with their own view of what expenses should or should not be reimbursed. There is no question that the revenue was there at Waddington, they have publicly stated many times before that they were able to cover all costs and donate the substantial sum remaining to chosen charities. I have said before that a model closer to that of RIAT would be more beneficial as they can rely on various external sources of manpower and have already established commercial partners with many organisations that can supply people for the time they are required. Therefore I was quite pleased to hear a Scampton Airshow would be organised by the same people and as the Chief Executive of RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, Andy Armstrong, says: “My team has a wealth of experience organising airshows and over the coming months we’ll engage with local agencies and community representatives to deliver a new, exciting and enjoyable day out for the whole family.” They also seem to be quite confident they can bring the RIAT model over to Scampton stating that: “Across Lincolnshire, there’s a great appetite for a new airshow and we are determined to create one whose identity reflects the region’s strong aviation links – past, present and future.” But this is just my opinion, based on third party information and some examples of public record, but either way the RAF have said they can not provide the manpower for an Airshow in Lincolnshire if it is to be RAF run. Therefore RAF Cosford Airshow will continue from their 2015 status as the only RAF Airshow, Waddington being the RAF’s “Premiere” Airshow until their last in 2014.
A spokesman for the Royal Air Force said: “The RAF is pleased to announce its agreement in principle to the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT), who run the Royal International Air Tattoo, organising an airshow at RAF Scampton, the first of which will be in 2017 at the earliest. Work is ongoing to agree the finer details which will be confirmed in due course.”
So, there we have it. Planning for the RAF Scampton Airshow is now underway after the RAF have agreed in principle to RAFCT holding an Airshow there. The plans will need to be given final approval by the RAF, but if that comes we could have a Large Airshow back in Lincolnshire as soon as September 2017.
The full announcement by RAFCT can be read here.