YorkNite 2023 Detachment 2 started on the 4th December with the crew changeover happening on the Saturday beforehand. An Helvetic Airlines flight landed into Teeside Airport as Leeming was suffering with thick fog on the Friday afternoon. This also caused the only flight on Friday, J-5234 to divert to Coningsby as the thick fog moved in from the North Sea rapidly reducing visibility below 300m.
As Detachment 2 are the experienced pilots there is less need for the two seat aircraft with J-5232 and J-5238 returning home on the Monday (4th December) being replaced with J-5017 and J-5236. The diverted jet J-5234 also arrived back from Coningsby on the Monday and departed 24hrs later to make the detachment 2 aircraft sit at 9 with just the 1 twin seat.
Detachment 2 Aircraft
F/A-18C J-5002 J-5003 J-5005 J-5010 J-5011 J-5014 J-5017 J-5021
Our visit for media day took place on Tuesday 5th December and we got the opportunity to photograph J-5010 navigating its way through the northern HAS complex and park up outside its assigned HAS before being pushed in for servicing ready for the next sortie.
Whist that took place we moved over to another HAS to meet the pilot and photograph him and the Detachment Commander with the spare jet. The plan was then to photograph the aircraft as they taxied out for the second sortie of the day under the lights but as we waited in the hanger we heard the bad news that the evening flying had to be cancelled due to the high risk of fog. We therefore had to end our tour early but are thankful to the Swiss Air Force and RAF for hosting us on the evening.
I made the trip up the A1 for a final time on Monday 11th December and was able to capture 7 jets go up in the first sortie of the day after watching J-5003 perform a performance take off for an impromptu air test before taking part in the later sortie. There was also a visit from Swiss Air Force Dassault Falcon 900EX T-785 and the stunning Fliegerstaffel 17 J-5017 Falcon tail art scheme was also thankfully part of the first sortie. The experianced pilots undertake advanced night flying training for the remainder of the exercise both over the North Dea and low level through the Lake District.
The exercise concluded on Wednesday 13th December with the jets returning to Switzerland the next day departing between 11:30 and 14:30 with the exercise already pencilled in to return to Leeming in 2024.