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Dunsfold 'Wings and Wheels' 2014

 

   

On the verge of starting big school, Dunsfold WIngs & Wheels celebrated it's 10th year in style this August bank holiday weekend, with a unique WW2 formation and crowds exceeding 40,00 over the 2 day event.

Wings & Wheels is certainly maturing and developing it's own personality, and is fast becoming an Airscene favourite with it's relaxed mix of air display, ww2 re-enactments and of course all manner of motor vehicles at the now famous home of Top Gear.

 
 
 

This year's display kicked off with a high energy workout from the RAF Chinook, which by all accounts reminds us of Samo Hung - the fat guy sidekick of Jackie Chan who flips and somersaults around kicking bad guy's butt's... it doesn't seem as if it should be possible but it produces some of the best helicopter ballet one is ever likely to see. The 2014 display was no exception and if anything actually manages to improve year on year, and very much appreciated by it's audience.

 
 

Next up was the B25 Mitchell, which I missed last year (on the sunday) as it withdrew from the display after reporting undercarriage problems. Peter Kuypers had the Mitchell's engines positively growling with a few low passes and wingovers - a cracking display disappointingly, as Peter managed to put Andrew Dixon's C-47 routine in the shade somewhat. I heard (and I agree with) many comments on how great the C-47 is to watch flying, sure it isn't a Lancaster but for many it still gives a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Perhaps the greatest testament to the C-47's pulling power came earlier in the year when hundreds of fans waited almost 5 hours just to see 7 of them take off from Lee-on-Solent airfield (lasting all of 7 minutes) before flying over to France for the Anniversary of D-Day Remembrance.

Following a full aerobatic display by Dan Arlett in the Jet Provost, we were treated to a scintillating display of barnstorming by the Tiger Club Turbulent Team with commentary by Brendan O'Brien - flour bombing, balloon bursting and limbo flying... great fun to watch and even better with Brendan's excited exposition making me feel like I was watching It's a Knockout".

Next up was the Tiger Parachute Display Team, who after touching down lined up on the grass for ex paratrooper and legend Bernard Cribbens to take their salute.

 

Silence is golden... for a minute or two at least you could hear a pin drop at Dunsfold as two very distinctive shapes loomed over the horizon. This didnt last long though as the sound of 8 Merlin engines thundered down the display line much to the appreciation of the waiting crowds. The joint BBMF and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum flypast was surely the main draw at Dunsfold this year - a sight that is unlikely ever to be repeated in UK airspace so certainly a sight to be remember for all of us too young to remember WW2 itself.

 

Both Lancasters took part in a unique balbo organised by the Dunsfold team which also comprised of the BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane, the ealier mentioned C-47 and B25 and two of my favourites for the day - the Old Flying Machine Company's Spitfire and Mustang...

It was great to see the return of perhaps the best warbird display team after being absent from Dunsfold in 2013, and we were treated to an incredible flying display - two cracking solo displays for sure, but the noise is something else when these two fly in formation. The low and fast flypasts really does give you goosebumps as Alister Kay and Steve Jones gave skilfully demonstrated the art of tight formation flying, unfortunately for me there just weren''t enough flypasts for me to try and capture a full circle prop blur this year - Ggrrr next year then!

Other items on the schedule included the Gnat Display Team, The Breitling Wingwalkers, The Great War Display Team and the Apache. Of course Vulcan XH558 put in an appearance, initially flying in formation with the Gnat Display Team, and yup the Vulcan did look like a giant fly swat (poor Chris Heames must have been sweating a bit leading the formation). Unfortunately the Vulcan solo display this year seemed to be a bit sedate this year, and was the one part of this show which actually managed to bore me - apparently it was better on the sunday.

My personal main highlight was the classic jets of Midair Squadron's Hawker Hunter and BAC Canberra PR9, starting with a very close formation routine and then splitting off for two solo routines. Both the formation and the solo's were flying perfection, but it was the howl coming from the Canberra's Avon engines which had me going - certainly a joy to behold.

As a family day out featuring cars, planes and military vehicles - Dunsfold is hard to top. Dunsfold is situated in the middle of the Surrey countryside and like other nameless airshows suffers because of the B roads surrounding it. I am not sure what can be done about the traffic situation at the end of the show, but consideration could be given to opening the gates earlier - doing this would tend to spread the arrival of vehicles out a bit further and result in less queues on the roads.

Despite this, Dunsfold continue to be creative and really did pull another rabbit out of the hat this year with the Lancaster duo and the unique formation flypast. With a sell out on sunday (and pretty close on saturday too) Wings & Wheels delivered two great days of family entertainment. Dunsfold still has room to grow and will do as long as Jamie's team can keep the fresh idea's coming. Do book your tickets early for next year, or you will be disappointed!

 
Review by Airscene
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