Weather grounded much of King Charles III’s coronation flyover

Miguel Ortiz
May 9, 2023 12:44 PM PDT
2 minute read
king charles coronation

A Chinook flies over London (RAF)


To celebrate the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, the armed forces of the UK prepared an impressive flyover….

To celebrate the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, the armed forces of the UK prepared an impressive flyover. Scheduled to include over 60 aircraft, the aerial display was significantly reduced by the weather. Clouds and rain caused poor visibility and grounded all but the helicopters and the RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows.

Weather grounded much of the flyover, but not the helicopters (825 Naval Air Squadron)

The flypast, as it's known in Britain, was supposed to include aircraft ranging from the Texan T1 trainer to the C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane. They were to be joined by an impressive 18 Typhoon FGR4 and six F-35B Lightning II fighter jets. While these modern aircraft can operate safely in reduced visibility, the low altitude and close formation flying for the coronation would have been unsafe.

The historic Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster did not fly for the coronation (RAF)

Five aircraft scheduled to participate in the flyover that would have been significantly more difficult to fly safely were the WWII warbirds. Two Supermarine Spitfire and two Hawker Hurricane fighter planes, heroes of the Battle of Britain, were slated to salute the king following his coronation. Set to join them was an Avro Lancaster bomber, one of only two in the world still flying and the only one in Britain. Given the weather, there was little doubt that the historical aircraft would not fly.

Despite the weather, helicopters from all three services of the UK armed forces performed the flyover. This included Wildcats, Merlins, Apaches, Chinooks and Pumas. Following the helicopters, the nine Red Arrows in their Hawk T1s flew in formation over Buckingham Palace. The white smoke trailing behind the planes changed to a display of red, white and blue to symbolize the UK's Union Jack. King Charles, a pilot himself, viewed the flyover from Buckingham Palace in his first balcony appearance as monarch.

The Red Arrows fly over Buckingham Palace (RAF)

Interestingly, the weather affected the last coronation too. In 1953, the late Queen Elizabeth II's coronation flyover was delayed by rain and low clouds. It wasn't until 5:15 in the evening that the weather cleared enough for the aircraft to be visible and the flyover to take place.


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