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Dunsfold 'Wings and Wheels' 2013

 

 

Donuts, and well... more donuts!

Dunsfold Wings and Wheels truly does have something for everyone, and perhaps it is because of this, that I went away with mixed feelings. Overall, it is a great day out, one which I am happy to recommend but "Car Fest" it is not. Personally I prefer the Wings over the Wheels any day, however I have visited Goodwood's "Festival of Speed" once or twice, and my car side looks at Dunsfold and says "I Don't get it!".

 
 
 

Maybe I am being too critical, but you have a small enclosure where (if you are one of the lucky 300 or so people who can fit around the 2 sides) you will see a small handful of classic cars and Hot Rods doing donuts, and well... more donuts! When you consider that just a few years ago Dunsfold had crowd figures around 23,000 over the 2 days - there isn't really a lot of room for an audience, and this is perhaps why the majority stayed sat on the chairs hogging the crowd line all day.

Twice throughout I saw a variety of cars doing laps up the main runway and back down the taxi-way, but all around 200 meters away from you - not much of a spectator event to be honest.

I don't know if there is room but perhaps a larger arena? Also a lot of space wasted with cars (thinking specifically of the Ford Escorts and Focus') which did not have that much attention, and could have been put to better use. That said, the ww2 re-anactors were great - I would rather see more of this than rows and rows of cars that many people don't want to look at.

Anyway, I digress - the main reason for Airscene attending Dunsfold was of course the airshow. With the promise of the previous days poor weather clearing later on, the airshow got off to a "slow", albeit promising start with the Jet Provost. Dan Arlett put in a tight but exciting flat display which included barrel rolls, aileron rolls, dumbell wingovers and a fast pass at over 400 knots. Cloud levels (and later on the proximity to Gatwick airspace) would hamper the displays but the pilots did everything they could to keep us all entertained.

 
 

Wearing its desert camouflage paint scheme to commemorate the 70th anniversary of 72 Squadrons Spitfires during the North Africa campaign; the Tucano took off next piloted by Fl Lt Andrew Fyvie-Rae. Elementary flight training for the RAF begins in the Grob Tutor, followed by 130 hours in the Tucano which is described as an ideal lead-in to the Hawk T1. With a maximum speed of 300 knots, a climb rate of 4,000 ft per minute and able to operate at 30,000 feet - the Tucano was the perfect replacement for the Jet Provost, particularly because of its greater fuel efficiency. Andrew more than adequately showcased what the plane can do - not only did it look like a Spitfire, it moved like one too.

Next up should have been the B25 Mitchell Bomber (For the guys - made famous in the Doolittle Raids, following a Japanese raid on US soil. For the ladies - the aircraft flown from the deck of an aircraft carrier at the end of that full on love story with an annoying bit of fighting in the middle "Pearl Harbour") however shortly after getting airborne reported problems with the undercarriage and had to abandon the display for safety reasons.

One of the highlights of the day was the appearance of "Red Duo" - a pair of quarter scale RC Hawks in, you guessed it, Red Arrows paint scheme. "Piloted" by Steve and Matt Bishop - the duo emulate the real Red Arrows synchro pair with crossovers, breaks and some pretty tight formation flying. From a distance it's hard to believe these are models, and the lads even got a formation thumbs up from the real Red Arrows who had wondered over to see what all the fuss was about - well done lads! If you wanna see what all the fuss is about, check out Matt and Steve's video on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xYBBpNuur4

OK, I promise I won't gush, but the Breitling girls are lovely (in a flying display way I mean) and the planes aren't bad either. I am sure many of us wouldn't want to strap ourselves on top of a Boeing Steerman while doing loop the loops and barrel rolls at 150mph, but these girls do it all the time. If you do want to have a go you can of course for just £399 - visit http://www.aerosuperbatics.com/beawingwalker to have a go.

The commentator made a comment that you can tell how happy a wingwalker is by the number of flies on her teeth, so it must be fun - they are always smiling. Maybe I will have a go, if anyone wants to buy me a surprise gift voucher. Oh and Danielle got applause from the crowd for her latest "move"... Danielle, you only need to turn up to get applause.

Glider FX put in an appearance, wowing the crowds with a roll-on-tow at around 75ft above the runway - I have only ever seen this performed high over the sea at Bournemouth, so this was quite unbelievable (a lot of gasps could be heard) - I do wonder sometimes what these guys have in their sandwiches?!

Peter Teichman from Hangar 11 put in a beautifully smooth display in his Hurricane mkIIb (the only flying example in the world) making it all seem so effortless. Considering Peter has only been flying the Hurricane since it's restoration was completed in 2009, he knows how to showcase it's capabilities, and this display is regarded as one of the best on the display circuit.

Dunsfold had a good mix of flying displays which included The Blades, The Red Arrows, BBMF, RN Historic Flight, and the list goes on - I did miss some as I went to check out the "wheels" displays and get myself some food (YES - MORE DONUTS!) - but did manage to catch glimpses of the flying as I wondered between the cars and the various stalls selling their wares.

Another stand-out performance for me was the RAF Chinook, which never fails to impress... To describe the Wokka's display as an aerial ballet is a bit of an understatement, with pirouettes and pedal turns, 360 degree rotations and nose down quick stops.. phew, exhausted just typing that - the display is breathtaking to say the least. The Chinook seems to be receiving more awards for "Best Solo Display" lately, and long may this continue - at least we can then be assured of her continued presence on the circuit.

Ultimately though the crowds knew what they had come for... the Vulcan Bomber (engines ripping the skies apart) and the Typhoon were the clear favourites - both getting a big round of applause and cheers from the crowd. Following the Typhoon display many did begin to leave, seemingly not wanting to wait around for the Apache display - a shame, however I admit I did join them... my sat nav does have a tendency to show I am pointing North when in fact I am driving South - did not really want to be doing laps around Dunsfold 2 hours later.

In summary - Wings & Wheels is a great family day out, there are a few elements of the "wheels" section which perhaps need looking at, but limited airfield space and airshow regulations mean there probably isnt a lot that can be done. With the exception of one or two members of "the press", who seem to take themselves far too seriously sometimes, the team at Dunsfold seem to have kept a smile on the faces of it's visiting public. If you are looing for a family day out next year, you can't go wrong with this one.

 
Review by Airscene
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