Video and pictures: A look back at the Midlands Air Festival in Warwickshire
THE Red Arrows' tribute to the NHS drew grateful applause from the 4,000-strong crowd at the Midlands Air Festival 2021 staged at Ragley Hall last weekend.
The three-day event was blessed with brilliant sunshine, blue skies, ice cream, sun cream and families who couldn't wait to get outdoors into the beautiful countryside. They were entertained by a procession of aircraft which have to be classified as national treasures, from the supersonic RAF Typhoon Eurofighter to the iconic and unforgettable Spitfire.
Saturday was best summed up by squadron leader Adam Collins who said, over the public address system during the Red Arrows display as he welcomed the crowd, "this is not Zoom, this is real life with real people. Is everybody ready to see the Red Arrows?" To which the crowd roared "Yes!"
Eight Hawk T1 jets took to the pure blue skies above Ragley reaching heights of 6,000 feet and were never more than 100 feet apart as they performed a faultless sequence of formations including a rolling swan and a tornado, leaving behind streams of red, white and blue smoke in their wake. Perhaps the most touching moment was the creation of a perfect heart in the sky in tribute to NHS key workers and frontline staff.
How good it was to see children playing on the immaculate lawns at Ragley Hall, their antics briefly paused to shout, "that was cool" or "that's amazing" as the model aircraft bomb attack on an "airfield" took place.
How good it was to see tradespeople doing a great business selling ice cream, drinks and burgers after months of lockdown. How good it was to see rows and rows of cars parked in the grounds as people departed with their picnics to the show site observing social distancing throughout.
In terms of hardware there were acrobatic biplanes, a Flying Fortress, Spitfires, a Bell 47 helicopter, a Westland Scout and an extremely graceful Catalina flying boat which served as a search and rescue plane for the Americans in the Pacific during the Second World War.
It was with great anticipation and perhaps a bit of trepidation that the dot on the treeline closing in fast on the expectant crowd below was the long-awaited RAF Typhoon jet which within seconds soared into the sky with a thunderous roar.
Having taken off from RAF Coningsby, it sported a new livery called Black Jack which was the Union flag painted on the body of the aircraft. It performed loops, twizzles, a cork screw, several 9G turns and a slow speed pass - if such a thing is possible.
This perfect day in the sun was made complete by parachute display from the RAF Falcons and the launch of many hot air balloons, which included shapes such as a panther, a dinosaur, a ladybird, a coffee jar and Wallace and Gromit.
After so many months of lockdown it was good to be reminded of how great it is to be outdoors with other people.