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Cotswold Airshow 2011

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The Cotswold airshow is growing in popularity every year, with its heavily loaded display of classic jets. This year sees the Hawker Hunter celebrating its 60th birthday and The Cotswold Airport definitely celebrated it in style.

Saturdays weather was not looking to be too favorable, but in actual fact wasn’t too bad. There was the odd sporadic shower plus a few heavy downpours, but that did not deter the crowds. Neither did it affect the lineup. Everything due to fly that day did make it. The ground attractions were of the normal quality standard upheld by the Kemble Organisers. This included a nice array of model aircraft, The Williams f1 team (with 3 cars) and plenty of trade stalls to empty your pockets!!


With the cloud base relatively low, The first display of the day were forced to start their show a bit lower than normal. The Renegade parachute team were back for another year at Kemble, and didn’t disappoint. All the jumpers made it out of the AN-2 aircraft even though this was to be their lowest ever display jump. A great effort by the Hobby parachutists. Once clear, 2 Dutch Hawker Hunters which had been due to arrive on the Friday had chance to finally touchdown at Kemble. This then led on to a great display of RC Model aircraft flying, which is somewhat of a tradition at Kemble shows. The Breitling wingwalkers were not down to fly at the Cotswold show, but from outside the airfield you would have never have realized. 2 large scale RC Stearmans complete with moving ‘walkers’ did an amazing display which would have fooled anyone from a distance!!

This led on to the first of the days Hunters to display. For me, one of the best paintjobs ever on an aircraft took centre stage. Miss Demeanor is a firm favourite with Airshow goers, with its ‘1960’s ice lolly’ colours (as described by the commentator), owner, Jonathon Whalley put on the best display of the day. The skies cleared to create a brilliant blue backdrop for the Hunters display. Flight Lieutenant Dan Hayes then put the RAF’s Tucano through its paces. This year , the Tucano is in a silver livery and looks rather good against a blue sky. His great final pass left the way clear for Flight Lieutenant Jules Fleming to bring in the RAF’s Hawk Trainer. This years colours are not quite as exciting as previous one’s, but I have to admit ‘Jules’ certainly makes up for that. Running in at 600mph and pulling into a max rate turn set the standard for another quality show. I did hear her say that she would like to fly business jets, but she hasn’t got these out of her system yet! That’s one pilot I’d like to have fly my business jet!! To close the first part of the show was Neil McCarthy in Jet Provost T.3A XM479.

After lunch, the next of the 8 flyable Hunters took to the air. Team Viper had previously flown BAE Strikemasters, but have now converted to the Hawker Hunter. The team flew a 4-ship for Saturdays display and the flying was excellent. Consisting of various formation passes the display was great to see. The team then split into a 3 ship to with a lone Hunter making some nice passes. I thought the final split was brilliant, including the solo Hunters final pass with a ‘Hunter blue note’ added. Nice touch!! This was the Teams first display with the Hunters and I cant wait to see them again…

The next display was a bit of an emotional one for those at the Cotswold airport. Wings Venture DC-3 N1944A is sadly leaving for the us to be put on static display in a museum. This particular Dakota was used on D-Day and also in Operation Market Garden. I’m not sure who was flying her but I really enjoyed the tight turns a nice low pass to finish on. Another of Kembles residents were up next, but they also brought a heavy downpour for the start of the show too. Luckily for Ultimate High, the rain was over quickly ad we could all enjoy the rest of their display without umbrellas. The best part of their act for me was the mock dogfight between 2 Bulldog aircraft. Ultimate High offer the general public the chance to fly in these aircraft and try to shoot each other down . For r more info on what they offer check out www.ultimatehigh.co.uk.

If you had wanted to see the mighty Avro Vulcan then Saturday was the day for you. 558 had landed on the Friday so the crowd were treated to seeing the ‘Delta Lady’ takeoff. She kicked up plenty of spray from the wet runway and climbed away in a steep right hand climb. The Vulcan brings in huge crowds for organizers, and Saturday was just the same. The flight line got very cramped as people flocked to the front to see the ‘Peoples Bomber’. They really showed how maneuverable the Vulcan is with lots of steep turns and a simulated landing before departing for Margate.

Brendan O Brien is renowned as a great showman (and pilot!) Unfortunately he was not able to fly in his flying circus act due to a manicure appointment. Instead he had someone stand in for him under the name of Captain Bugaloo!! Some say Bugaloo is said to be the oldest pilot in the world being 101 years old, and that one of his may jobs was as a doughnut salesman . All I know is that he sounded awfully like Brendan O Brien! The whole display is so comical, with his crazy flying and the great commentary by Helen Tempest. Brendan tries to land hi Piper cub on a trailer towed by a car down the runway. With the weather being windy and rainy, I’m please to say he did manage to touch down on it once. Great flying Brendan!!

Other acts included a great pairs display by a BBMF Spitfire and their Dakota and the Sea Fury T20 from Yeovilton. More naval aircraft came in the form of the Royal Navy Blackcats. They performed their usual stunningly close pairs formation display in the Lynx helicopters. Another highlight was the Meteor, Venom pairing. I enjoyed the formation passes before the meteor pulled up into a half loop leaving the stage clear for the DeHavilland Venom. Its lovely to see such a rare classic as this. As it did a low, slow dirty pass the meteor passed at high speed above it to start its display. A brilliant High energy display by the pair.

This brought the show to its finale. 8 hunters appeared from the right to commemorate the 60th anniversary of this iconic classic jet. The formation did a couple of passes before splitting into a 5 and 3 ship. With the 3 ship running in with a break to land the other 5 formed the missing man formation in honor of Firefighter Steve Mills who tragically lost his life in an accident at Kemble in April. They too then did a run in and break to land, bringing the show to a close.
This was another fine show, put together by the organisers. One great idea for this year was having the audio speakers on the floor rather than on poles. It meant no annoying shots of an aircraft looking like it had crashed into a speaker! I’d like to say a big well done to everyone involved, especially the commentary team. They did a great job of keeping everyone entertained. I look forward to next years show….
Review by Neil Darby - click HERE for Neil's Showcase