The skies over Hampshire, England, may have been resolutely overcast, but there has been nothing dull about the spectacle of the biennial Farnborough International Airshow taking place in them this week. Crowds composed mostly of media, military and millionaires endured airport-style security checks to observe aerial displays from ear-piercing fighter jet fighters, enormous airliners and aeronautic display teams of dubious sanity.
Jet fighters and training aircraft were undoubtedly the loudest things in the sky this week. Between the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen, F-18, Yak-130 and Korean T50B, there was no shortage to choose from.
The nimble aerial display put on by the RAF Typhoon was particularly impressive, not to mention loud - the sound literally penetrating the rib cage if you stand close to the runway. The Eurofighter Typhoon program continues apace, with the announcement this week that Typhoons are to gain electronically scanned array radar, Meteor air-to-air missiles and Paveway IV guided bombs.
There was no shortage of larger, in fact massive, aircraft. News that the Airbus A400M Atlas was unable to fly was perhaps the disappointment of the week. Still undergoing flight-testing, seeing the four-engined military transport in flight would have been a treat, but attendees hankering for larger aircraft were by no means short-changed, given the display flights of an Airbus A380, 787 Dreamliner, and, for those that kept their eyes peeled, Lancaster and B52 bombers.
Helicopters were ably represented with aerial displays from the implausibly nimble Eurocopter EC175 (being launched this year), as well as the close-formation flying of the AgustaWestland helicopters.
As ever, the presence of a Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey (the M-designation signifying this is a US Marine Corps vehicle) was a point of some curiosity, not least because of its distinctive sounds, which shift between those of a jet airplane or helicopter depending on rotor position.
All eyes were on the Blades aerobatic display team when its distinctive blue Extra EA-300s took to the air. The Blades' 15-minute display contains more than 30 maneuvers. Death-defying may be a cliche, but it applies in spades to the team of ex-RAF jet pilots, all of whom are former Red Arrows.
There was plenty more on display in the air, on the ground, indoors and out, including robots, UAVs and bleeding-edge technology aplenty. Take to the gallery for a flavor of this year's Farnborough Airshow.
Words: James Holloway
Photos: Noel McKeegan
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