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Dunsfold Wings and Wheels 2010

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This year Dunsfolds Wings and Wheels was a 2 day affair. Dunsfold has a great format for their event in bringing together an airshow, with a vehicle show with the added bonus of having a long runway for the cars and bikes to race down. Dunsfold has a long association with Hawker aircraft and is the birth place to a few of the stars of the weekends show. Unfortunately the weather looked like playing its normal airshow game with the wind and rain, but the only cancellation was the BBMF DC3.

 

The show kicked off with the cars and motorbikes. It was truly amazing to see some of the aero cars running down the runway. These were cars built in the 30s using aero engines. The star was the famous Napier Rialton from Brooklands. Commissioned by John Cobb, The car used a 24 litre Napier lion engine and was capable of a top speed of 168 mph. This segment also featured many Ferraris, Porsches, AC Cobras and other top sports cars and motorcycles.

The Airshow started with a display from the Tigers Parachute Team. Using a Cessna 206 as the jump ship they formed a 4 man display team. The Tigers are soldiers from the Princess Of Wales Royal Regiment. The team was made up by Lance corporal Chris Smith, Lance corporal Frank Millerick, Private Shane Hind and Private Gary Chapman. The lads were falling from the sky at speed of up to 126mph, and did extremely well in the windy conditions, with 2 of the parachutists hooking up to make a 2 man stack. Once all had landed safely the reds made their entrance with a run and break to land. They were to display later.

Next up was the RNHF Sea hawk. This was the 1st of 4 Hawker aircraft to display with connections to Dunsfold.. Flying the Sea Hawk was LT CDR Chris Gotke. Running in from the left he proceeded with an excellent display with a series of wing overs and passes. The end of the display was signaled by the popular wing waggle followed by landing and taxiing up the runway with folded wings.

Gerald Cooper was up next in his Cap 232 with some truly amazing aerobatics. Gerald is currently ranked 7th in the world and is also British aerobatic champion. This display was what is known as a freestyle display. The display consisted of lots of very precise rotations, tumbles and rolls. The show was very high energy and ended with Gerald inverted on approach. A truly awe inspiring aerobatic routine!!! Peter Teichman was the 1st of the warbird participants in his MKIIB Hurricane. Peter is a great display pilot and showed the crowd just why the Hurricane was such a great workhorse. ‘Pegs’ (which is the nose art on the Hurricane) Looked absolutely fantastic against the dark moody skies which had graced the show. The next item to display really needs no introduction.

The mighty Avro Vulcan, known now as the peoples aircraft, entered quietly from the right. That was the only quiet moment as she started her routine. It is quite amazing to see such a massive aircraft being thrown around the sky as if it was a fighter. The pilot made sure that he showed of the massive delta shape by turning her on her side whenever he could. It is hoped to keep her flying until 2014, but she does cost nearly £1 million a year to operate. She finished with a low pass with wheels down followed by a steep climb and bank to the right before departing.

The 1st of the RAF displays took the from of the Tucano. Tucano display pilot Tom Bould did his usual high quality display, showing the aerobatic capabilities of the Tucano, This then was followed by the Grob Tutor. A firm favourite on the UK airshow scene then followed, OFMC’s Spitfire and Mustang duo. Led by Brian Smith in Spitfire MH434 and Alistair Kay in the the P-51.The duo ran in from the left in their famously tight formation. The 2 were having to work extra hard to keep it tight as the weather was not ideal. Conditions were very windy. Brian led the pair in to a series of rolls and turns, while Alistair kept tightly tucked up just behind. They then split and the spitfire was 1st for its solo display. Brian made good use of the whole airfield to give a cracking solo. Alistair then took his turn in the P-51 and did a very similar display to Brian. To finish a very nice victory roll from the spit.

Another great display from the OFMC duo. A nostalgic sight came in the shape of 4 Turbulants from the Tiger club. These tiny aircraft are powered by a 1600cc VW car engine, and wowed the crowd with their daring. A series of formation passes, surely not easy due to the gusty conditions , then gave way to the good old days of flying. The limbo was 1st, with each aircraft taking it in turns to try and fly under two poles joined together by a banner. All 4 aircraft passed underneath showing their skill. Next was the flour bombing. The aim was to drop 1ib bags of flour into a small marked square on the airfield. A direct hit set of a small pyrotechnic. Once again the chaps showed their true skill by hitting the square several times. The act finished by balloon popping, with 2 out of 6 popped. This signaled the end of the 1st halves flying display and gave way to the cars and bikes for their 2nd run of the day.

The airshow restarted with the ever popular RAF Typhoon display. This was another well executed routine, which was a mixture of noise and speed. After the Typhoon had departed it was time for commentator, Brendan O Brian to show his crazy flying act. Only O Brian would be mad enough to try to land his modified Piper Cub on top of a moving trailer.

The trailer was pulled down the runway by a 6.5 litre Bentley. All credit goes to Brendan for flying as wildly as he did and also whoever was driving the Bentley. After 4 attempts at landing they called it a day. The wind was horrendous and The cub did well to get anywhere near the trailer. Unfortunately it was another runway landing. Better luck next time Brendan!!.

Typical of airshow weather, a sharp shower then ensued, and the crowd disappeared under a sea of umbrellas. This left the Red Arrows sat on the runway waiting for the rain to clear. Once the rain had almost stopped the Reds took off for a rear crowd arrival. The people that had stayed were treated to typically professional and inspiring display from the RAFs finest.

As the Red Arrows landed the skies in front became blue once again to give the Blades a perfect stage to display on. The Blades also entered from crowd rear and split into pairs. This season sees the Blades teaming up with the RAF association, bringing a great new colour scheme. The aircraft are painted blue and black and have the associations wings on the underside and top of the wings. The Blades team are made up of ex Red Arrows pilots. I think my favourite manoeuvre was the Blades mirror stall split.

The pawnee, twister and glider then appeared from the right to do their display. Obviously in the windy conditions the display was not its usual high energy self. A series of flat passes then gave way to the twister for a solo, while the Pawnee and glider climbed for height so the glider could start its show. After a truly elegant display by Guy Westgate it was time for the Breitling wing walkers team. The team have been around many years now sporting many different sponsors and colour schemes.

This latest scheme of orange and white really stood out against the deep blue sky. The teams routine included the girls climbing back into the cockpits whilst flying. A very well done in the windy conditions, rather them than me!!! More aerobatic displays were seen from the Red Bull Matadors pair of Paul Bonhomie (recently crowned red bull air race champion 2010) and fellow competitor Steve Jones. Following that was the Silence Twister duo. These are small Spitfire shaped home builds which are very maneuverable and aerobatic.

To round the fling off there then followed a trio of aircraft, all synonymous with Dunsfold. 1st was the hawker Hunter, Miss Demeanor. This has to be one of the most striking colour schemes ever to adorn an aircraft (see picture) Jonathon Whalley really put her trough her paces, showing why the Hunter was such a success. Hunters , along with the final two display acts were developed at the Dunsfold airfield.

The next act was the last from the RAF, the display Hawk. Due to unknown circumstances the hawk display pilot was recently changed and this could have been why the display was so short. However the flying was technically superb. The final act was very welcomed. The Harrier has been missing from the display circuit, so its always a draw when it does perform. Again a very short display but who could fail to be impressed, stunned and inspired by such a great engineering wonder.

On the whole, given the weather, I found The Wings And Wheels display at Dunsfold to be very enjoyable. This was my 1st visit and certainly won’t be my last. The mixture of aircraft, cars and motorbikes means there’s lots to see. I can’t wait for 2011.…..

Review by Neil Darby - click HERE for Neil's Showcase