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Duxford Summer Air Show 2022
‘The varied assortment of mono-wing, biplane and triplane aircraft wheeling and diving towards each other at low level is an exciting sight!’

Saturday 18 June was the first day of the 2022 Summer Airshow at IWM Duxford. Duxford has a history that dates back to the First World War and as well as being open to visitors all year round, brings aviation history to life via a number of family-friendly airshows and flying days.

The morning started with a mixture of blue sky with bright white clouds although dark gray clouds steadily approached the airfield.

The air display was due to start at 13.15 and Duxford’s range of museums and exhibits provides plenty to see on the ground. The AirSpace hanger holds an interesting collection of British aircraft including an Avro Vulan and Concorde 101 whilst the café in the American Air Museum towards the other end of the airfield gives visitors the chance to avoid a rain shower overlooking a number of American aircraft arranged around a B-52 with others suspended dynamically overhead.

Outside the museums the airfield was coming to life with a mix of stalls, food and drink traders and living history groups showing military and civilian life during the period of the second world war. Meanwhile activity was beginning on the flightline as aircraft were prepared and positioned for the flying activities.

By the time the air display was due to start the blue sky had been replaced with grey clouds. These stayed for the remainder of the afternoon, interspersed with a couple of rain showers. However, the air display went ahead, starting with the Pitts S-2S showing off its aerobatic capabilities. The aircraft’s modifications give amazing control, especially at low speeds and further changes are planned in the future to ensure that crowds continue to be wowed.

The Great War Display Team braved the low clouds and winds to replicate a First World War air battle in their open cockpit aircraft. The varied assortment of mono-wing, biplane and triplane aircraft wheeling and diving towards each other at low level is an exciting sight!

The Fokker S-11 Instructor first flew 75 years ago in 1947. Five aircraft were displayed by the Dutch Stichting Fokker Four. The pilots could be seen walking through their display in front of the Air Traffic Control Tower shortly before taking to the sky. These display aircraft date from 1950 and 1951.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina is a Duxford favorite and performed a graceful display. The pilots showed off the multiple configurations of the aircraft while the airshow commentator recounted the story of the June 1952 which has since become known as the ‘Catalina Affair’.

The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron displayed their Vampire FB.52 and Mig-15. The MIG-15 has a new paint scheme inspired by the defection of a North Korean Sichting pilot with an intact Mig-15 to the USA in 1953. Shortly after landing the aircraft was given USAF markings before being used in a number of trails to understand its performance. This display was its first public appearance in the new livery.

Rotary-wing aviation wasn’t forgotten with the first appearance at Duxford for the Wildcat HMA2 from 825 Naval Air Squadron. The Wildcat is a current frontline aircraft and the solo display demonstrated its capabilities. The other rotary-wing display was a little different. The Calidus autogiro was flown by Peter Davies, who was able to show the extreme maneuverability of this aircraft. The low cloud base was not a problem as he was frequently at very low level and is allowed to fly close to the crowd at just 50m distance!

Airshow favorites The Red Arrows performed a flypast having performed at the Isle of Wight Festival the previous evening before heading to Denmark. The Blades provided their usual smoke, noise and excitement. They started with a Flat Display but changed to a Rolling, then Full as the clouds moved away, before reverting to a lower display before the end. When the display was complete they joined up with the B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B for some formation passes.

Unfortunately, due to the weather, the Aerosuperbatics Wing Walkers were unable to display, and a Harvard and Texan pair were able to fill the slot. Duxford’s own Mk1a Spitfire N3200 was unserviceable due to an engine issue and could be seen in a hanger with some of the aircraft and vehicles undergoing restoration. The final slot of the day was therefore flown by the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Photo Reconnaissance Spitfire instead, giving people a chance to see the Thank U NHS logo underneath and the white names on the rear fuselage and tail that were added as part of a fundraising effort for NHS Charities Together.

Despite the challenging weather this was yet another relaxed, fun airshow and the second day on Sunday was also a success. The next full-weekend airshow at Duxford is the Battle of Britain Air Show on Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 September and there are also a number of Flying Days throughout the year.

Review by Mark Lees