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Duxford Flying Legends 2019

 

   

 

As July arrives we hit peak Airshow season with Flying Legends hitting the mid month slot with it’s warbird extravaganza.

The Fighter Collection, delivered another show of Piston power, this year with added jet action courtesy of the Red Arrows who displayed on the Saturday show day with a 12pm opening routine. The Reds performed on a more central display axis than previous Legends visits, where in the past they had displayed exclusively at the western end of the airfield.

The main body of the flying display opened with a 12 Spitfire Scramble and formation displays, a speciality often witnessed at many Duxford based airshows. A relatively frequent occurrence seen at the historic Duxford airfield these days, however one must remember that only a short time ago this kind of thing would be relatively unheard of in such numbers.

In total the weekends shows saw a total of 15 Spitfires display including 3 Mk I’s, which took part in a Battle of Britain tribute display alongside other aircraft representing the summer of 1940.

 

Following on the Spitfires the crowds were treated to a fantastic sight of 5 Hispano Buchons for their “Movie Stars” element, which undertook a simulated airfield raid before a series of tail chases representing air battles between RAF and Luftwaffe Steeds seen other the British countryside.

For many the massed gathering of five individual Buchons was quite the event. Last years Flying Legends event saw a display from four air frames, this year’s addition of a fifth airframe was simply sublime. A paperwork oversight on Saturday meant the crowds didn’t get to see a 5 ship flypast, thankfully Sunday’s show rectified the previous day’s issue and the crowds were privileged to an awesome sight of the 5 Luftwaffe liveried Buchons, including the sole airworthy two seater example.

 

A Duxford based airshow wouldn’t be the same without an appearance of resident B-17 “Sally B”. The sole airworthy Flying Fortress in Europe took to the skies with her fighter escort, dedicated to all the aircrew who lost their lives over the skies of Europe in World War Two.

The weekends show also saw the first public display appearance of the Ultimate Fighters. The new Sywell based display team comprised a four ship display routine comprising of P-47 Thunderbolt, TF-51D Mustang, Supermarine Spitfire Mk VC and Hispano Buchon. The team put on an impressive and dynamic display, and it was clear that all the hours of practise had paid off in full! The team comprised of Richard Grace in the HA-1112-M1L Buchon, Dave Puleston in the Spitfire LF VC, Andy Durston in the TF-51D Mustang and Jon Gowdy in the P-47D Thunderbolt. Four very different airframes, each with their own different flying and handling characteristics, all expertly flown producing a tight flawless display.

The weekend saw challenging conditions for photographers, with consistently dull grey skies on Saturday making it a little tricky at times, however Sunday did manage to produce some patches of blue sky.

Four of The Fighter Collection’s stalwarts displayed in the form of a Curtiss Quartet, including two stunning P40’s, a C & an F along with the the P-36C and the ultra rare Hawk 75. The four performed a rather brief display on both days that was over a little too quickly.
It has to be noted that the flying schedule held no Hurricanes, which was looked upon as a bit of a missed opportunity when put into context of the Battle of Britain Tribute, that displayed with Blenheim, Lysander and three Mki Spitfires. One couldn’t help ask the question why none of the 4 flying airframes sat in hangars on site took part. Maybe the September show will rectify this?

Fans of vintage Naval Aviation were well catered for in trio of radial fighters in the form of 2 seat Sea Fury and The Figheter Collection’s Corsair and Bearcat giving an ever impressive display of radial power, with the Bearcat showing just how powerful that little airframe is with some incredible high speed power climbs reaching above the cloud base.
Other noted display acts throughout the day included the classic formation in their Silver C47 and accompanying Beech aircraft and a gentle nod towards D day with a three ship of C47’s, including an odd addition of a civil liveried example, carrying markings of Pan-Am airways.

The show completed in its trade mark style; the Balbo. A massed flypast by a large percentage of the shows acts, this year including no fewer than 24 individual airframes, a minor increase over recent years.
A big thanks must go out to the Fighter Collection for putting on another successful airshow, pulling in crowds from across the world to witness their annual warbird spectacle. Close to 40,000 people attended across the weekend. Events like this go to show what a hot bed for warbird restoration and maintenance the UK really is; a true achievement.

Duxford has one more air show in its calendar for this year, with the Battle of Britain air show scheduled for its regular slot in September. For more details and tickets visit the IWM website at www.iwm.org.uk
 

Review by Jonathan Wintle