Kings Coronation - RAF Benson

06/05/2023

The Rotary Wing was one of only 2 elements to actually make the flypast over Buckingham Palace on May 6th. The entire setup for the helicopters took place at RAF Benson. 

Between the 5th and 6th of May, no less than 22 choppers positioned themselves at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire for the flypast. Those 22 included Chinooks, Wildcats, Junos, Merlins, and Apaches. To see Benson so busy was a sight in itself!

3 Merlins flew to Benson on the 6th, and we arrived only minutes before the first one arrived. After the final one had landed, we awaited a pair of Wildcats which were already well on their way from RNAS Yeovilton. They were quickly followed by 2 Apaches from Middle Wallop. 3 Apaches were planned in but the 3rd unfortunately never made it. 4 Junos and a number of Wildcats and Pumas were already on the deck when we arrived. 

At around 12:40, each aircraft started requesting engine start. A single Juno was the first to call up, and it was also the first to taxi out to the runway. It taxied right down to the very front, and it quickly became apparent that they would be departing in the same formation as they would be overflying London. Over the next 45 minutes or so, another 11 helicopters taxied to their respective positions on the runway. 

One aircraft I didn't expect to see was the Chinook, as I had read recently read that they would be provided by RAF Odiham and not Benson. So imagine my surprise when, stood out in the pouring rain, 3 chinooks came into view in the distance. They then landed and stayed directly out of view from my position, behind Bensons air traffic control tower. They flew in formation with a single Puma as LIFTER flight. 

At around 13:35, the helicopters took off in formation. When they departed, it had not been announced that the vast majority of the flypast was cancelled, although most people certainly expected it. 

Unfortunately, my camera ingested a vast amount of rainwater into the shutter button, which set off the shutter button nonstop! I'd like to think I came away with some decent shots in the end. It was an incredible sight nonetheless and I won't be forgetting the sight of sound anytime soon! All photos from the Brize Norton blog were also taken with sheer luck, I'm thankful my camera continued to focus on the subject even while taking an unnecessary amount of photos. I apologize for the photos I share that don't look very good, particularly the Juno shots.