Another chapter in the story of a possible new airshow at RAF Scampton was written on 19th February 2016, when the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT) announced that it had reached an agreement in principle with the Royal Air Force to organise an airshow at RAF Scampton.
The last airshow at RAF Waddington was in 2014, following which there was a planned pause whilst extensive work was carried out to the runways. Overrunning work and silence about the return of the show in 2016 lead to suspicions, subsequently confirmed, that there would be no more airshows at RAF Waddington for the foreseeable future.
The RAF Waddington International Air Show, to give it its full title, until 2014 the RAF's major UK airshow, was a two-day show. It ran for 20 years and attracted over 135,000 visitors, raising millions for local and RAF charities. In 2014 alone the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF), the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA), Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and the RAF Museum, each received over £55,000 and another £39,000 went to Station Charities.
The official reason for scrapping the show was that there were significant security concerns and operational risks. Following an MOD review of involvement in airshows, and to confirm their commitment to a show in the area, the RAF said back in September 2015 that an alternative air show may be held at RAF Scampton, but not before 2017 at the earliest. In the meantime the RAF said they would have to sort out significant legal, commercial and infrastructure issues. The RAFCT, were contributors to that review.
Then in November 2015, the Lincolnshire Echo reported that Lord Howe, the Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, had confirmed in a letter to Sir Edward Leigh that RAF Scampton could be the venue for a new Lincolnshire Airshow in or after 2017.
Lord Howe, more fully The Rt Hon. Earl Howe, is also the Deputy leader of the House of Lords so carries some influence.
Sir Edward Leigh is the MP for the Gainsborough constituency, which includes RAF Scampton and is said to be a long-time supporter of RAF Scampton and of the Red Arrows, sometimes credited with helping to make sure they were not axed as part of defence budget cuts.
The letter was prompted by an enquiry from the leader of the local authority, West Lindsey District Council, who support the move of the airshow to their district, especially because of the benefits to tourism in the area.
It was reported on the local Conservative party web site last September that Sir Edward welcomed the possibility that the International Air Show might move to RAF Scampton saying.
“Lincolnshire is great flying country and has a proud RAF history which are the perfect ingredients for an international air show .... Scampton should be a perfect alternative to Waddington and I hope the RAF and locals will work together to make it happen ... It’s a great opportunity for the area and for the county.”
The Lincolnshire Echo article also contains an inference that the aircraft for any show could be based at RAF Scampton whilst, if public access to the base raises security concerns, the public areas could be at the nearby Lincolnshire Showground.
The latest announcement by the RAFCT, which also organises the RIAT (Royal International Air Tattoo) at RAF Fairford, confirms commitment to RAF airshows and leaves the future of the Scampton Airshow in experienced and very capable hands.
The new airshow has its own Scampton Airshow website, on which the RAFCT Chairman, Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, is quoted as saying in February 2016:
"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. Having agreed to stage an airshow at RAF Scampton in September 2017 at the earliest, work will now begin on looking at the finer details."
The Chief Executive of RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, Andy Armstrong, said:
"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.
"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."