Untitled Document
Sywell Airshow 2012



Probably the hottest display in the UK this summer!

August 2012 and the bi-annual Sywell Air Show came up trumps yet again, with the hottest and sunniest day of the year. In fact, with temperatures in the 30’s and a humidity figure of 62%, it was, a little too warm!

The gates opened at 10am by which time the first queues were forming and the much improved car parking areas were already filling up. Entry into the airfield was almost queue free for the early The best things about the Sywell Air Show are the very close proximity of the aircraft stands and the relatively close flightline. With 3 hours before flying started, there was more than enough time to fit in some static shots, browse the increased number of attractions and even get the first drink of the day - before the sun had reached the yard arm - let alone gone over it!


In my 2010 Review, I expressed the opinion that Sywell needed a lot more attractions and facilities for what is now becoming a much larger show. The organisers had certainly improved on the 2010 position. There were displays by re-enactment groups representing US Forces and the Home Guard, vintage, classic and F1 cars, numerous stalls and bars and plenty of aviation related products to browse or purchase. The museum was open and the static displays were better and there was much more to look at. Toilet facilities had been increased and improved and even the PA System was clearer in most places around the airfield. All in all, a great day out for all the family – aircraft enthusiasts or not!

Now, as I am one of those strange people who think that many aeroplanes look better on the ground than they do in the air, I decided to get some detailed photos of the vast array of aircraft parked up in a very well organised and neatly arranged display area. With most of the participating aircraft lined up in “era” groups, it meant that enthusiasts could travel through aviation history over a few hundred yards – an idea other shows might like to consider.

By around 11am, the sun had already become rather fierce and I must admit, with the very bright light, some care was needed when assessing exposure levels and, for this reason, I shot most of the images in RAW mode which would allow me to correct the bright conditions post camera – by using Photoshop to adjust the vivid colours, I would also be able to ensure detail in the shadow areas could be enhanced.

Many of the larger aircraft were open to visitors with the PBY Catalina and the DC3/C47 Skytrain proving extremely popular. The De Havilland Rapides and the Tiger Moth provided pleasure flights.

I suspect there were many, amongst the passengers, who enjoyed going back in time to the halcyon days of the 1930’s when flying was not just a pastime for the rich but also provided training for the University Air Squadrons and the RAFVR – the same men who, a few years later, would become “the few” in the Battle of Britain.

In fact, we must all be getting so used to the tick over sound of Merlin engines that we hardly notice the throttle blips as they taxi across the airfield.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Caroline Grace, on the veranda of the Aviator Hotel, and, as we were talking, she heard her Spitfire start up and watched as it taxied away. “That’s the trouble with these kids”, she said, “with most children, it’s the family car they borrow – with mine, it’s the Spitfire!”. What a fantastic lady with a lovely dry sense of humour – oh, and a piece of inside information – her Spitfire is due to do another documentary next year - so keep your eyes open for that when it is screened.

With over 5 hours flying to watch, there was something of interest to all so I have included some of the usual iconic display aircraft but have also tried to give some photo space to some of the often forgotten aircraft that do the rounds of the UK Display Circuit.

The Blades and their precision display set the bench mark for the rest of the day. We were treated to a continuous program of great flying – and all in perfect weather conditions.

All the pilots, ground crews and owners committed to giving the crowd some thrills, excitement and exceptional flying, to raise funds for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. I am sure that the attendance was well up on 2010 - let us hope that the final total will exceed the £31,000, or more, raised that year.

The Hurricane certainly was unserviceable with a technical fault but was replaced by a photo recon Spitfire IX –

Stripped of non-essentials like armament, her primary means of evasion from the enemy was the increased performance together with a pretty effective blue, camouflage paint.

There were a few inevitable changes and “no shows”. The BBMF Lancaster flew without a fighter escort – I failed to discover whether this was due to unavailable aircraft or pilots or whether it was always intended she would fly alone.

As usual, the Breitling girls performed fearlessly – I still wish the pilots would be a little more sparing with the smoke – my Nikon AF system certainly does not like all that haze and lack of contrast! Unfortunately, with very little breeze, the smoke hung over the airfield for some time but that is, apparently, an aspect of the display spectators enjoy.

To include every aircraft appearing at the show would occupy far too much space – but we should make mention of all the other participating pilots and aircraft including the B17 Fortress Sally B, the Grace Spitfire, the SWIP Aerobatic Team, the Barnstormers, the Meteor, and lastly but definitely by no means least, the Squadron with the motto “Excellence” – The RAF Red Arrows who, I believe, have recently returned from displaying in Russia!

The Red Arrows represent the pinnacle of formation aerobatics and their display continues to set the standards that other air forces, around the world, strive to attain.

Sywell Air Show 2012 built on the success of 2010 and was an even bigger and better event. Great credit must go both to the organisers and everybody who made the day one to remember – will I be here again in 2014?

Well, so long as I am still breathing and have the strength to pick up a Nikon, you try stopping me!


Review by Dave Briers - click HERE for Daves Showcase

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