Sometimes wet but always wonderful
Typhoon take-off at Farnborough Airshow 2016
Farnborough Airshow, the biggest trade airshow in the UK, is held once every two years. It lasts for a whole week. The first four days, Monday - Thursday, are trade days when £billions of international business is transacted. Friday is 'Futures Day' when youngsters are encouraged to attend and learn about aviation and associated sciences. At the weekend it becomes a public airshow.
The show hosted the second appearance in the UK of the F-35 Lightning II jet, following its début at RIAT. The US Marines Corps brought two F-35B jets, the US Airforce two F-35As and one British F-35 came to the UK for displays, but only the F-35B has been seen at Farnborough. One of them performed a flypast with the Red Arrows when the show was opened by the Prime Minister at 10.30 on Monday 11th. The mixed flypast with the Red Arrows was not repeated during the week but the F-35 did display over the public weekend, including the Friday's 'Futures Day'.
As well as the flypast with the F-35B to open the show, the Red Arrows flew with the Airbus A350 and twice with the Airbus A400M. They also parked up very close to the Grandstand over the public weekend and interacted with the crowds who could chat with them and the 'Blues' and see at close quarters the preparations for flight.
On Friday and Saturday they also made a flypast break to land, but on Sunday they flew direct from their Flypast with the A400M back to Scampton.
Some in the crowd had not realised, despite the publicity, that the Red Arrows would not be making a full display, and seemed somewhat disappointed that the displays had been reduced to flypast only. Although the mixed flypasts with Airbus aircraft were welcome, it was a little surprising that they had not made more than one flypast on each day.
The reasons for the lack of the dynamic part of the show were understandable in the post-Shoreham caution but perhaps a few formations from part one of their normal display could have been offered to the substantial numbers who came from the exhibition areas to the crowd line especially to see them fly.
Weather was certainly the topic on the opening day, when flights had to be cancelled early, and the showground closed down, because of torrential rain, flooding and water ingress to several buildings, which affected the electrical circuits, causing the power to be turned off.
A huge effort over Monday night, including not only water clearance but necessary repairs and even carpet renewal, meant that the show was ready for business on Tuesday although there was further rain both then and on Wednesday, including a lightning strike close to the commentary position. Thursday was the first all-dry day but Friday returned to low cloud by airshow time and then rain stopped the displays again just after 16.00. On Saturday and Sunday the cloud threatened but the rain stayed away.
As well as the F-35 and the Red Arrows, weekend highlights included a phenomenal display by Rich Goodwin, complete with colourful pyrotechnics and the BAe Typhoon (not the RAF one). Another highlight for classic aircraft fans is the first displays away from its home at the Shuttleworth Collection's Old Warden airfield since its restoration in 2014, of the De Havilland DH.88 Comet, a striking red inter-war racer that won 1934 England to Australia Air Race, for which it was designed, in 70 hours and 54 minutes.
See the table below for a full list of the flying displays
For the first time in 2016, the UK Drone Show was held alongside the Farnborough Airshow. The latest drones and drone technology were on show to airshow visitors. There was a focus on the safe use of drones, careers in the drone industry and CAA drone regulations. As always at Farnborough, products are on display and there are presentations, exhibitions and speakers to further knowledge and awareness of this rising technology, hobby and business.
On Friday, astronaut Tim Peake was on the platform to talk to visitors and on the stage in the Space Zone to open Futures Day and answer questions from children. These were his first public appearances since returning from space.
He was back on the Live Stage on Saturday and mixed very freely with the crowds seeking his autograph..
On Friday there were due to be 2 mixed flypasts. The Red Arrows flew with the Airbus A350 as planned but The Blades flying with with the Oil Spill Response 727 was one of the weather casualties. On Saturday and Sunday The Blades repeated their flypast with the 727 and the Red Arrows flew with the Airbus 400.
|Aircraft listed to fly at the weekend
||Airbus A350 (Fri only)|
||Airbus A380 (inc Fri)|
||Airbus A400M (inc Fri)|
||Apache AH-1 (inc Fri)|
||Boeing B-17G 'Sally B' |
|Boeing 727-200 Oil Spill Response (inc Fri)|
||Boeing Defense P8 (inc Fri)|
||Breitling Wingwalkers (inc Fri)|
||Bronco (cancelled Saturday because time ran out. Flew Sunday).|
||Calidus Autogyro (Fri & Sat)|
||Catalina PBY-5A (Sunday only)|
||Curtiss P40M Kittyhawk 'Lulu Belle'|
||de Havilland Comet|
||Dornier Do328 (inc Fri)|
| ||Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF) CANCELLED|
||Eurofighter Typhoon Role Demo (BAe Systems) (inc Fri)|
| ||F-16 CANCELLED not able to validate|
|Global Stars (inc Fri)|
|Goodyear Corsair FG-1|
|Great War Display Team (inc Fri) (listed by operator but not on FIA Saturday list)|
|Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat|
| ||King Air Display Team (RAF) CANCELLED|
|Lockheed Electra ( Fri & Sun)|
|Lockheed Martin F-35B (+Fri)|
||Mustang 'Red Tail' (was 'Jumpin Jacques')|
|North American B-25 (RNAFHF) |
|Rans S-6ES (Build-a-Plane) (Friday only)|
|Red Arrows (RAF) (inc Fri. Flypasts only)|
|Red Devils (Friday only)|
|Richard Goodwin Pitts S-2S Special (inc Fri)|
|Spitfire & Hurricane (BBMF) |
|Starduster (Fri & Sat)|
|Yak 3M |
|The Blades (inc Fri)|
|Additionally the following were listed for static display during the public weekend|
|Antonov AN-2 |
Dakota (Ace of Spades)
de Havilland Devon
Gnat Display Team
Spartan Arrow G-ABWP
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX
The British Army Balloon School was established at Farnborough in 1905 and on 5th October 1908 the UK's first powered flight was made here by Samuel Cody in 'British Army Aeroplane No 1'. The airfield has been involved in aviation ever since, making it the first and the longest-established active airfield in the UK.
The airfield was owned and operated by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) throughout the two World Wars and the Cold War, being used for flights, manufacturing and research & development. It was eventually declared surplus to military requirements in 1991.
TAG Aviation took over the running of the airport under contract in 1997. Under the brand TAG Farnborough Airport Ltd they have since taken over the freehold of the estate which, as well as remaining an operational airport, has become a centre of business aviation and home to some of the UK's largest aviation businesses as well as the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport.
Getting to the Show
Farnborough Airport is on the A325. There are signposted routes from the M3 and the A31. Use sat nav GU14 6AZ to get near but ignore the sat nav in favour of the show direction signs as soon as you pick them up.
There is very little reserved parking on the airport itself. The vast majority of drivers, including everyone who has not reserved a space, will be directed to an off-site free car park with a free shuttle bus to the airport.
The National Express coach service between Fareham and London passes through Farnborough and also visits Southsea, Portsmouth, Petersfield, Farnham and Aldershot. You can book seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site.
There may be special services to the show. See the show's 'getting there' page and local coach service providers for any details.
Accommodation near the show
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.
Between them, Expedia and LateRooms list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.
Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates and, if necessary, change the number of rooms and people staying.
Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
Although there is a Holiday Inn in Farnborough, you are most unlikely to get a room during the airshow. The International Hotels Group also have a Holiday Inn in Guildford, about 11 miles away and two in Reading, slightly further out. Premier Inn have two hotels much closer, one at Farnborough West and one at Aldershot, both within three miles of the show, and another three at Fleet, Sandhurst and Bagshot, all between four and seven miles from Farnborough.