Show-stealing Saab Draken is latest announcement for the Midlands Air Festival

A surprise announcement from the Midlands Air Festival has revealed the Saab J-35 Draken as the headliner for Sunday’s show on the 4th of June.

Photo: Paul Kolbe

One of Europe’s most sought-after jet warbirds, the Draken is operated solely by the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight. However, post-Shoreham regulations on classic jet displays in the UK means that is has been an extremely elusive participant at British airshows, appearing only at seaside events and making a handful of static appearances in recent years, most recently at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

The Midlands Air Festival will be the first time in many years that the aircraft has performed a full display at an over-land British airshow – albeit the show will likely be non-aerobatic, as swept-wing jets are not currently permitted to fly aerobatics over land in the UK.

It was previously thought that, although nothing prevented the Draken and other Swedish-operated classic jets from displaying at overland shows in the UK, the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight was reluctant to work up a dedicated non-aerobatic display routine just for British over-land events.

The Draken is standing in for the RAF Red Arrows, Typhoon FGR.4 solo display and BBMF Lancaster, which will headline Friday and Saturday’s shows. Other recently-announced highlights, all of which will be flying on both the Saturday and Sunday, include the F8F Bearcat, Gazelle Squadron four-ship display and Vampire T.11.