The RAF Waddington International Air Show
It was in early 1916 that Waddington was established as a training station specifically for flying. However, just four years later in 1920 the station had to be closed due to neglect. Seventeen years passed before Waddington re-opened on 12 of March 1937 as a bomber base, and in November of 1940 it became the first base to receive the famed ‘Avro Manchester Heavy Bomber’.
During the Cold war from 1945 to 1990, RAF Waddington became the new base for the Vulcan bomber. At present Waddington is home to: No. 5 Sqn – ASTOR/Sentinel R1, No. 8 Sqn – Sentry, No.23 Sqn – Sentry, No. 51 Sqn – Nimrod R1, No. 26 Sqn – Ground Based Air Defence, No. 2503 Sqn – RauxAF Force Sustainment as well as acting as the predominant seat for the ‘Air Warfare Centre’. Nonetheless there is another side to RAF Waddington and that is the arrival of the RAF Waddington International Air Show.
Finningley Station served as the first location for the RAF Air Show. Unfortunately, in April of 1995, Finningley Station was formally closed and the RAF Air Show, considered one of the greatest events in the aviation calendar, had to be relocated to its new home in Lincolnshire. Although the Lincolnshire facility was originally believed to be comparable Finningley Station, it soon became apparent that there its location between the A15 and A607 roadways would pose a public safety concern. With safety an issue, and with parking availability and similar logistical considerations, event organizers felt that the Air Show should be moved and renamed the RAF Waddington International Air Show.
Amongst other improvements to the Air Show was the idea of creating a two day event. Today, the RAF Waddington Air Show attracts over 100,000 spectators and the Show has become legendary. Visitors have remarked that the event is not solely to showcase the history and future of aviation, but with the support of a non-profit organization, its main purpose is to raising money for charities. Proceeds from the Air Show are distributed to three entities: The RAF, The RAFA Benevolent Fund and The ‘RAF Waddington Charity Committee’- the latter serving as an independent body from that of the actual show and which selects local charities deemed worth of recognition and support.