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Aero Expo 2011 - Sywell Aerodrome

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A great day out for those who know their Aztec from their Extra!


I know very little about light aircraft or the executive aviation scene so, on yet another grey and overcast day, I made my way to Sywell Aerodrome to see what it was all about.

Aero Expo is the “Mecca” for those who want to view the latest developments in the light aircraft market and the continuing advances in everyday technology for the private and corporate flyers. The show was being held at Sywell Aerodrome for the first time, having moved, this year, from its previous home at Wycombe Air Park.

Entry to the 3 day event cost £20 with concessions for pre-booking and exhibitors’ guests. No program to buy and the price included your free “goody” bag containing a show guide, some magazines and sales literature and a whole book of discount vouchers.

The list of Exhibitors read like the “Who’s Who?” of commercial aviation - all anxious to demonstrate their latest products and services.

There was no queuing for entry and the morning attendance was well down on predicted numbers. It would seem that many “fly-in” visitors had delayed their arrival because of the bad weather and the organisers must have been very disappointed to see such a low turnout.

The benefits of reduced visitor numbers soon became apparent to the aviation photographers who decided to attend the first day. It was actually possible to photograph some of the more interesting aircraft without the problem of people encroaching into frame and spoiling that, otherwise, perfect shot.

I set off on a general “walk around” – dodging the light showers and sheltering from the cold wind with the help of the exhibitors’ show tents. They may have been devoid of potential customers but were not lacking in the widest range of aviation products and accessories available today.

I marvelled at some of the innovative technology and discovered that a decent parachute will cost you around £2,000 – a small price to pay, of course, but I soon realised that I was destined to just admire such toys and trinkets from afar. Never mind, I consoled myself in the knowledge that, at least, my recently purchased watch – a Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk – was highly rated and worn by pilots everywhere ,so I flashed it at every opportunity as I posed as a potential buyer of executive toys!

The list and scope of exhibitors was amazing – including just about every add-on you could ever need or want for your flight simulator and, if you were a simulation addict, there was the opportunity to try the Boeing 737 Simulator – although how you would convince them that you were in the market for this sort of flight training, I don’t know! All joking apart, there really was something for everyone – from a few pounds to the cost of an executive jet.

The weather continued to worsen with showers increasing in length and frequency and it became obvious that the evening flying would be curtailed – if not cancelled. But, as is usual with the flying fraternity, the brave stepped up to the plate and whilst factoring in the conditions, decided to put on some entertainment for the few diehards who had stayed behind in the hope of seeing some flying.

First up was the Jungmeister – an immaculate display by Michael Pickin who, despite the low cloud base and rain, displayed the aerobatic abilities of the aircraft to the full. For a brief few minutes the small crowd were enthralled and the rain was completely forgotten. At least until I realised my D300 was getting pretty wet!

The Chinook gave a comprehensive display including the trade mark “roller coaster” routine.
It seems we were lucky to have seen this aircraft as it had been due to display at Cosford but had aborted that mission because of adverse weather conditions.
Finally the Extra 300 was put through its paces and, once again, the display was exceptional with some good low passes and a full program of aerobatics.

Did my visit to Aero Expo excite me? I found it interesting and informative but, for me, if it isn’t camouflaged, hasn’t got machine guns or missiles and it doesn’t send a tingle down my spine, then, “no”! If you are in to light aircraft and “affordable” ways of flying, then it is the show for you!

Let’s hope that, next time, the organisers are blessed with better weather and the show attracts a full capacity crowd. A few images from the Expo below:

Review by Dave Briers