of power, tight agile turns, speed and of course noise!"
The Spring Bank Holiday annually marks
the start of the bigger air shows with the first of Duxford’s
three scheduled shows.
This May saw the “Air
more family orientated show with a festival atmosphere designed
to celebrate the excitement and thrill of flight with a varied
line up of aircraft, demonstrating design through the ages with
vintage examples from the great war display team through to
todays tip of the spear frontline aircraft with the Eurofighter
Typhoon FGR4 and Dassault Rafale.
This May’s show also commemorates the
centenary of IWM Duxford, where work began constructing the
airfield back in 1917, when the grass airfield became a strategic
part of the air defence network of the British Isles.
As with all of
Duxford’s shows the interest isn’t exclusively in the air, there
is always plenty to see and do on the ground and throughout the
museum, where full access to the extensive displays is all
included within the ticket price of £29.50.
This years special ground
attractions included a replica of the Bloodhound land speed record
car along with its team, a chance to get up close with a Bell
Boeing V-22 Osprey and an opportunity to meet the RAF Falcons
Saturday saw some
fantastic weather with glorious sunshine and bright blue skies,
but some strong winds very quickly began to throw a spanner in the
works with the announcement that certain elements of the programme
may be rescheduled.
programme kicked off on time with an opening display from the
North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco from the Belgium based Bronco
Display Team, this year embellished with a poppy design and the
words “Lest we Forget”.
Tony de Bruyn gave a spritely
display in the Luftwaffe marked airframe before departing off for
another display elsewhere.
The strong winds
prevented the RAF Falcon Parachute display team from making their
jump into the showground, but the dedicated team landed in the
Skyvan to meet their fans and give them the opportunity to ask
questions and discuss the displays and what it takes to be a
Luckily the RAF
Typhoon Display was able to move forward their timeslot and make a
thunderous appearance from the left of the crowd line.
A firm favourite with many an air
show goer, this years display seemed to be a little restrained, as
a viewer from the ground it felt as if the display was holding
back a lot of the power and focussed more on displaying the low
speed manoeuvrability the airframe affords.
regular, Sally B, the only flying B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe
took to the skies along with a “little friend” in the form of
TF-51D Mustang “Miss Velma”.
The pair gave the familiar
display ending with the crowd line pass from vintage bomber with
Pilot, Richard Grace remained
airborne in “Miss Velma” to give an extended solo display whilst
the flight director reordered the programme, again due to strong
winds experienced on the day.
That being said, all involved on
the day worked together to keep the entertainment going.
The Air Festivals
broad variety switched towards a rotary theme with the ever
popular Calidus Auto Gyro, quickly followed by the Army Air Corps’
Attack Helicopter Display with their Agusta Westland Apache Mk I
along with pyrotechnics.
The display demonstrated the
airpower the Apache platform gives via a role demonstration
depicting ground troops encountering enemy contact on the ground.
The pyrotechnics team had rigged
up explosions to depict Hellfire missiles launch as well as canon
It was fair to say the explosive
finale was highly impressive and adds a unique dynamic not seen
with many other displays on the air show scene.
Both rotary displays played heavily to
crowd centre locations, with very little time spent with the
viewers positioned on the ends of the display lines, which I feel
was a little disappointing.
Variety was clearly the name of the game
with the Air Festival with a number of aerobatic acts in the form
of The Blades and the Trig Team in their Pitts Specials who both
gave dynamic displays for the viewers gathered along the crowd
line, but at times did feel a little far away and lost in the vast
welcomed the Strike Master Display Team who performed a duo
routine with their BAC Strikemaster Mk82a and Jet Provost T5.
Pilots Mark Petrie and Ollie
Suckling gave a close and graceful formation display to the crowds
with some dynamic breaks to crowd centre.
Jets of the Cold War were also represented
with the stunning silver Mig-15UTI from the Norwegian Airforce
Historical Squadron, which gave a stylish display with some great
speedy passes along the crowd line displaying its gleaming body in
the glorious sunshine that blessed the show.
golden age was represented with a clutch of classic racers
represented with the a pair of Percival Mew Gull’s and one of
the most beautiful aircraft currently on the scene; the de
Havilland DH-88 Comet, owned and operated by The Shuttleworth
The trio performed a
surprisingly lively display that really showed off these
programme held a distinctive rare treat for aviation fans in
with two Bush Planes with both pre and post war examples in
form Noorduyn UC-64 Norseman from the Norwegian Spitfire
Foundation and a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver from the
Aircraft Restoration Company.
I say a rarity because this
was the first time a Norseman had been present at Duxford
since the Second World War.
The pair displayed to the
sounds of Glenn Miller over the speaker system to represent
the unfortunate passing of Glenn Miller in an accident aboard
Next to take to the sky was some
more Second World War heavy metal with plane sailings
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina.
The gleaming white flying
boat took to the air and the two Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp
Radial Engines purred their way through the sky, giving a
gentle and elegant display giving views of top and bottom
sides along with the opportunity to see the wing tip floats
With a relatively short
display “Miss Pick Up” returned to the tarmac runway before
taxying in along the crowds; a fantastic opportunity afforded
to crowds at Duxford.
One of the
stars of the show on the flying bill was another example of
the de Havilland stable with the inclusion of Naval Aviation
Limited’s DH110 Sea Vixen FAW2 .
The Navy Twin Boomer arrived
from the left of the crowd, the distinctive shape looking
absolutely stunning in the afternoon light.
Commander Simon Hargreaves
put on a fantastic display, showing off some of the power and
noise held within the twin Rolls Royce Avon Turbojets.
Unknown at the time, the
display was tinged with a little sadness as on the Vixen’s
return to base the 1950’s fighter suffered hydraulic issues
and had to make a wheels up landing at home base.
Hopefully the team will be
able to rectify any damage and the old girl will be in the air
again later in the year.
The theme of jet
power continued with the arrival of The French Air Force’s
Dassault Rafale C Solo Display.
The flamboyantly painted display
ship piloted by Captain Jean-Guillaume Martinez gave what can only
be described as one of the best fast jet displays I have ever
witnessed outside of the likes of RIAT, with bootfulls of power,
tight agile turns, speed and of course noise!
be Duxford without Spitfires, and the Air Festival followed on the
tradition with the inclusion of a pair Mk I types.
The classic fighters completed a
simultaneous take off down the historic grass strip where 77 years
ago similar Spitfires scrambled to defend the skies of the British
Isles during the Battle of Britain. Pilots Pete Kynsey and John
Romain showed off the classic shape of the Spitfire with a series
of passes, loops and rolls bathed in the late afternoon sunshine.
Luckily as the
day unfolded the wind had dropped enough to allow the Great War
Display Team to take to the skies to close the show.
Always such an evocative sight
the team performed wit the addition of plenty of pyrotechnics that
finished off the display nicely.
The Air Festival
was definitely a slightly new approach to the standard Duxford Air
Shows, with the ground broken into Zones to give that “festival”
feeling, and the diverse range of flying and static aircraft from
WW1 era types through to modern day front line aircraft really
gives a sense of there being something for everyone and a true
sense of a celebration of flight.
Some more regular or hardcore air
show goers may feel there was a slight lack of the crowd pullers,
but that being said the show had two current front line aircraft
and the Worlds only flying Sea Vixen, which for me is always one
of the stars of any show it happens to be at.
There were a couple of acts that
felt a little far away at times, but this didn’t dampen what was a
highly enjoyable event.
There will be two further Air Shows throughout the summer at the
Imperial War Museum Duxford, with “Flying Legends” scheduled to
take place on the 8th and 9th July and the
“Battle of Britain Show” scheduled for 23rd and 24th
by Jonathan Wintle