Lossiemouth Air Show

Written by Chris Thornton | 26th of July 2023
Lossiemouth Air Show

Air shows were something I grew up with when living in Lossiemouth. My father and grandfather had worked at air bases in Moray - RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss, and I vividly remember all of the air traffic from my back garden, from Sea King helicopters and Tornados to Shackleton's and even biplanes.

Serving in the RAF gave him access to the open days at the bases, which as a family, we regularly attended, and I fondly remember. Sitting in a cockpit or touring through a Nimrod or Awacs was fascinating.

Model Blackburn Buccaneer.
Me in a model Blackburn Buccaneer.

The star event was the air displays. The speed at which the planes flew past was genuinely thrilling; you often didn't even hear the aircraft until they were right upon you screaming past at a low level.

Tornado GR4 on a runway at RAF Lossiemouth.
Tornado GR4 from days gone by.
 
C5 Galaxy
Me and a childhood friend next to a C5 Galaxy!
 
Avro Shackleton MR3
Avro Shackleton MR3
 
Group of Shackleton Aeroplanes over RAF Lossiemouth.
Avro Shackleton MR3s over my home in the 1980s.
 
AWACS at RAF Lossiemouth.
AWACS
 
Steve Thornton with Blackburn Buccaneer.
My dad at our home near RAF Lossiemouth. A Blackburn Buccaneer can be seen in the air.

Lossie Fest 2023

Lossie Fest is the name given to the annual friends and family event for service personnel held on the Lossie airbase. This year's event occurred on the 22nd of July between 1 and 3 pm.

After noticing the event on social media, my mother and I decided to attend and take the short drive from Buckie to Lossie. The West Beach car park was absolutely mobbed with tourists and locals looking to watch the airshow, so we parked some distance away on Stotfield Road and walked to the beach.

Lossiemouth West Beach car park.
The Lossiemouth West Beach car park was very busy!

We made our way to the sand dunes at Lossie West Beach. We were in good company with many other photographers and plane enthusiasts set up amongst the dunes, eager to glimpse the air show. It was a lovely sunny day, and many families played on the beach. Good vibes.

Photographers at west beach dunes.
Some photographers arrived early and got the prime spots!
 
Lossiemouth West Beach coastal defenses. Second World War.
Families play amongst the World War 2 coastal defences.

We sat down, had a wee picnic, and waited for the first item on the agenda, the Poseidon and Typhoon flypast. This was the first time I'd been to an airshow as an adult and had my big camera with me with a 400mm lens; I was keen to see what I could get, despite not being within the actual zone of the display.

Sadly I read on Facebook the Britain Memorial Flight had been cancelled, but as long as the Red Arrows were still coming, I was happy!

Poseidon & Typhoon Flypast

Typhoon FGR4 and Poseidon MRA1 are the two aircraft types currently stationed at RAF Lossiemouth, so it was fitting they were the first in the air. I could only get a couple of snaps as they caught me by surprise.

The Typhoons have been based at Lossiemouth since 2014 after 617 Squadron 'The Dambusters' were disbanded.

Poseidon MRA1 and Eurofighters. RAF Waddington.
A Poseidon MRA1 flanked by two Typhoon aircraft.
 
Poseidon MRA1.
The belly of a Poseidon MRA1.

Typhoon FGR4 Display

This display was next up and looked fantastic from a distance, but all of this display occurred directly over the base. The Typhoon FGR4 seems significantly more manoeuvrable than the planes I observed in my childhood.

TYPHOON FGR4
The best pic I could get of the Typhoon display.
 
A short video clip of the Typhoon..

RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team

Renowned as the UK's leading military parachute performance group, The Falcons make their home at RAF Brize Norton, nestled in Oxfordshire. Their exhilarating shows, spanning across Britain and Europe, are a year-round spectacle that captivates audiences far and wide with an impressive roster of performances under their belt.

Their display here at Lossie was awe-inspiring, with their brightly coloured parachutes contrasting against the bright blue sky.

RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team
RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team.
 
RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team
Spiralling.
 
RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team
The skilled parachute display team.

Red Arrows Aerobatic Display Team

The Red Arrows were by far the most fantastic part of the air show at Lossie Fest, and thankfully they seemed to give a show for all of Lossie and not just the air base.

I got a wide variety of shots of the Red Arrows as they flew much closer to the beach than the other planes. This display showcased many of their signature moves, including the impressive detonator and corkscrew.

Amazingly the Red Arrows also flew over Dornoch to the north and Peterhead to the east on the same day.

Three Red Arrows aircraft.
The legendary Red Arrows!
 
Rear view of Red Arrows display team.
The 400mm lens came in handy!
 
The Red Arrows
The Red Arrows.
 
The Red Arrows leaving smoke trails.
Smoke trails.
 
Side profile of the Red Arrows.
Side profile.
 
The Red Arrows python.
Python.
 
The Red Arrows corkscrew.
Corkscrew.
 
Red Arrow Display Team on blue sky.
You can see the pilot in this shot!
 
The Red Arrows.
The Red Arrows.
 
The Red Arrows flying head on.
Flying head-on.
 
Red arrows, heart and spear.
Red arrows, heart and spear.

F-35B Lightning II Role Demonstration

Considering this aircraft's technology, I was slightly underwhelmed with the F-35B. Again this display was held entirely over the base, so it was hard to get a good photo from the beach - I wish they had really opened it up and flown directly over our heads!

The most amazing thing about this aircraft is its ability to take off vertically and hover; it looked a little like a UFO on the horizon, particularly with all the flaps open.

F-35B Lightning II
F-35B Lightning II hovering motionless.

FAQs on flying displays in Lossiemouth

Here are a few frequently asked questions about air displays in Lossiemouth:

How frequent are air displays over Lossiemouth?

Typically just once per year, but the planes can regularly be seen at Lossiemouth while carrying out training and active duties. Keep an eye on the official website news page to see what's coming up.

What jets are at RAF Lossiemouth?

Typhoon FGR4 and Poseidon MRA1 are currently stationed at RAF Lossiemouth and are part of the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) system.

How long is the RAF Lossiemouth runway?

The main runway (05/23) is 2,764 m /9,068 ft long, and the secondary runway (10/28) is 1,850 m / 6,070 ft long.

Where is the best place to view the air displays at Lossiemouth?

If you are active personnel within the RAF, physically on the base is the best place. Failing that, the beach dunes to the north of the base are a good place; I would also consider Duffus Castle as a vantage point, too, if you fancy the south instead.

Remember that there will be road closures and waiting restrictions leading up to the air display, so it's best to reach your chosen vantage point early.

Red Arrow low level flying.
One of the Red Arrows flying low over Lossiemouth.

Is ear protection required?

I took earplugs just in case, but the planes weren't too loud as most of the action was limited to the airbase. I would wear ear protection if you are lucky enough to get on the base.

Where else can I see the Red Arrows this year?

You can still see a Red Arrows air display in many places. Check this page for the latest display dates. The next date is Old Buckenham Airshow in East England.

What can I do in Lossiemouth before or after the airshow?

There is so much to see and do in Lossie and the surrounding area, but the best thing you can do is visit the east side esplanade, purchase ice cream from Miele's and cross the new bridge to the stunning Lossie East Beach.

If you are interested in the heritage of the airbases in Moray, I highly recommend travelling to Morayvia Aerospace Museum in nearby Kinloss.

The Red Arrows
I was enthralled with this display.

Key information on air displays at Lossiemouth

  • Lossie Fest is the annual event that holds an air display.

  • Lossie Fest is not accessible to the public but can be seen from various viewpoints near Lossiemouth.

  • The Lossiemouth West Beach dunes to the north of the base or Duffus Castle to the south are good places to see the action.

Lossie West Beach and town.
Walking back to the car after a great airshow.

Conclusion

Despite being some distance from the best of the day's action, I was still happy with some of the photos I could get with my 400mm lens.

I realise that the airshow is a special day for service personnel considering many of them are posted worldwide, but it's a shame the show can't also be for the local population. Why not have part of the flight path over the water or at least fly over the beach? It felt very enclosed in a small area over the base, particularly the Typhoon and F-35B display.

The Red Arrows made the day worthwhile as an outsider viewing the show. If they return next year, I would highly recommend visiting Lossie to take in the aerial acrobatics.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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