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Abingdon Airshow 2013

 

 

Abingdon Air and Country show is now into it’s 13th year and looks to be going from strength to strength. It is definitely great value for money and proceeds go to a great cause, The Thames Valley and Chiltern air ambulance. Held on the historic airbase at Abingdon, the show brings many different types of enthusiast in. Wether it be classic cars, minature steam or just a great family day out, It has something for everyone.

 
 
 

As well as the air display, Abingdon has many ground attractions. There are the usual ‘market stools’ to browse, A craft tent with many local traders, plenty of classic cars to look around and a firm favourite are the tank rides. Williams F1 team supplied one of their latest cars for display and the WW2 re-enactors looked splendid. It was nice to see a falconery display in the arena too. The catering wagons were also pretty good value also.

With budget constraints not only hitting the UK this year, the organisers did well to bring in a few foreign gems. From the Royal Netherlands AirForce, a Pilatus PC-7 trainer. It was nice to see an air arm handing out freebies again with the pilots handing out wristbands to the kids!! Once again the Polish Navy supported the show with one of their PZL M28B Bryza STOL aircraft. From the Belgian Air Component there was a lovely yellow SIAI Marchetti SF260 Trainer. All three were on show in the static park. The Royal Air Force normally supports Abingdon with a fair few aircraft but this year due to budget cuts were a little more sparing. On the ground we had a Merlin helicopter from local base RAF Benson.

   

Abingdon always brings out a wide array of vintage types to add to the static park. It’s a great idea to add a fly-in to bring in some more interest for us aviologists!! This year was no different. My personal favourite was a beautiful Bucker Bestmann but also included a chipmunk, tiger moth and Messerschmitt ME108 to name a few. With the weather looking to be stunning and 1-o-clock nearly upon us, it was time to settle in for the afternoons airshow.

Due to start the show was a flypast by one of the RAF’s iconic transport giants, the Tristar, Based at local RAF Brize Norton, the Tristar was delayed until later on. So to open the display what better than the main benefactor, the Air Ambulance. I think the team expected just a single pass, however the crew had other ideas giving the crowd a nice few passes of their EC135 Eurocopter.

The first real display of the day fell to a new pilot to the airshow circuit. Local boy Will Hilton has not been flying too long but his performance in the Silence twister aerobatic aircraft would suggest otherwise. His loops, rolls and stall turns were all very well executed. You would not have thought it was his airshow debut!! Well done Will. Staying with an Aerobatic theme, the RV8tors from Duxford followed. Alistair Kay and Andy Hill gave a master class in tight formation flying before splitting for a syncro display. Showing to good effect the capabilities of the Vans RV8 aircraft.

Folland Gnat XR538 (G-RORI) was one of only 3 jets to display this year. I thought the display was a little too high but none the less enjoyable. Kev ’Jester’ Whyman used plenty of the blue sky available and looked to be enjoying himself, even if the smoke didn‘t want to play ball!! Peter Teichman flew his P-51 ‘Jumping Jaques’ as skilfully as ever. A lucky man as he also owns a Spitfire, Hurricane and Kittyhawk too…With a single flypast of the RAF’s Tristar from 216 SQN based at Brize Norton bringing the first of the RAF’s participating aircraft, and a very welcomed one too, Two more american piston powered aircraft followed. Firstly, Clive Davidson in his bright yellow Harvard with a very graceful display, followed by Ray Corston in Martin Willing’s T-28 Fennec.

British trainer types were also represented by Rod Dean in a Scottish Aviation Bulldog and Dan Arlett in Jet Provost XW324. Rod showed his many years of display experience with a wonderful aerobatic (as Aerobatic as you can get in a bulldog!!) sequence.

Star of the day for myself was Peter Vacher’s exquisitely restored Hawker Hurricane MK.1 R4118. The story behind this aircraft was truly amazing and an interview with Peter was played over the tannoy. Brought back from India by Vacher, the aircraft was meticulously restored to original condition and has is the only surviving MK.1 Hurricane to have fought in the Battle Of Britain. I did think that the display would be quite gentle but Pete Kynsey gave us a spirited piece of flying. As one Rolls Royce Merlin landed 4 more arrived from the left. The BBMF Lancaster came in nice and low and gave us its usual quality display as would be expected. She looked great against the deep blue sky and made the crowd fall silent. She will be busy this year commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster raid on 16th May 1943.

The ever popular Breitling Wingwalkers tool to the sky late in the afternoon. Stella Guilding and Dannielle Hughes took to the wings and showed the crowd just how to wing walk. They even attempted the ‘mirror’ manouvre but couldn’t quite hold hands. With Aces High’s DC3, putting on a stirling display, It was left to The Army Air Corps Lynx helicopter. Soon to be fazed out and replaced by the Wildcat, iT was nice to see a lynx solo display. What an end to a great airshow. The Lynx performed Backflips and rolls but my favourite was the hesitation pedal turn, Inspired!!!!!
Neil Porter and the Abingdon team deserve another big pat on the back. On paper I was worried that the display list looked a little lacklustre. However, I must admit that it is probably one of my favourite air shows ive benn to in the last few years. It had a lovely, relaxed aptmosphere with plenty to see and do and some excellent display flying throughout. If you have never been before, make sure Abingdon Air and Country show is on your 2014 list…….
 

Review by Neil Darby

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