times for air show organisers..."
charged and Alarm set for a particularly early rise. The first
Air Show of the season for this reviewer has arrived and excitement
& anticipation are high. IWM Duxford’s “The
America Air Show” has been designed to celebrate the recently
transformed American Air Museum by displaying and embracing
the relationship between the Great Britain and the United States
through the years, with a display schedule detailing the rise
of a close UK & US alliance over the years including “Forging
an Alliance”, scenarios from the First and Second World
Wars, Vietnam era displays and modern military displays in the
form of the Patrouille de France (Saturday) / Red Arrows (Sunday)
and Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 display from 29 Squadron based
out of RAF Conningsby.
full line up for the day’s proceedings could be looked
upon as a pretty standard list, up to the usual standards set
by the team behind the shows at Duxford, with a few notable
stand out features including the KC-135 Stratotanker of the
USAF based out of RAF Mildenhall and a Mitsubishi A6M Zero replica
from Aeroretro, all of which signalled for an interesting show.
arrival the first thing to greet this reviewer was a special
visitor from RAF Mildenhall, the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey along
with crew from the 352nd Special Operations Wing of the USAF.
An unusual and magnificent looking monster which was born out
of special requirements for the US military for an aircraft
capable of vertical take off and landing, but with the speed
of a fixed wing aircraft to transport troops quickly.
a lot of visitors to the American Air Show it was their first
opportunity to experience the newly transformed America Air
Museum, which had officially reopened on the 19th March after
a major redevelopment. The museum not only holds a magnificent
collection of US Aircraft from over the years but also tells
the story of the people linked with the aircraft within the
museum. The museum now holds 850 objects to accompany the aircraft
including equipment, uniforms, personal possessions and photographs,
each with their own story. Another special appearance at the
show was the Boeing Scan Eagle Intelligence Surveillance and
Reconnaissance Unmanned Air Vehicle, displayed by Boeing in
the American Air Museum.
1.30pm crept ever closer Saturdays show day planned to kick
off with a contemporary display from the Patrouille de France
in their 8 Alpha Jets. Bang on time the team arrived in formation
in what was a bit of a cloudy and gloomy sky meaning the display
ability was limited to what could be considered a flat display;
however the team managed to pull off an entertaining flying
act including some tight close passes and breaks.
the opening display was coming to an end the next phase of the
display was beginning with the start of up of two Royal Aircraft
Factory SE5a bi-planes and one Fokker DR.1, al part of the Great
War Display Team. The trio put on a great display, with a surprisingly
spritely cat and mouse chase for such aircraft along the crowd
line to depict those early days of aerial combat over the fields
and trenches of Western front during the Great War.
the display moved forward, further vintage aircraft took to
the air including the highly polished Ryan STA and the striking
Boeing Stearman of Golden Apple Operations with its distinctive
sound as the propeller tips reach supersonic speeds.
to fire up was the Augusta Westland Apache of the Army Air Corps
based out of Wattisham Flying Station. A visitor last seen at
Duxford in 2015 as a duo display team, the Apache quickly got
into its display routine of rapid climbs and descents with a
few notable top side passes thrown in.
flying schedule was going according to plan and as 2.30pm arrived
the next segment within the printed format was about begin,
designed to display the forming alliance between the UK &
the US. “America before Pearl Harbor” including
a tight flying display from a trio of differently coloured North
American Harvards, which was a drop in numbers by one according
to the flying schedule. Along with the Harvards this segment
of the flying programme also included a pair of Supermarine
Spitfires in the form of Mk Ia of the IWM and a clip winged
Mk LF Vb of The Fighter Collection, as well as a Hawker Hurricane
Second World War element within the flying programme contained
a Duxford Stalwart in the form of the ever popular “Sally
B”, Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, which ventured skywards
and soon formed up with her “little friends” escorts
in the form of a pair of North American Mustangs, a TF-51 and
a P-51D. Quickly intercepted by two Buchons representing Me-109’s,
the B-17 headed for home with a “smoke on “ pass,
before landing back on the tarmac almost as soon as she got
airborne. The ensuing tail chase between the axis and allied
forces continued for five minutes or so until returning to home
to free up the air space for the final piece of the first half
of the flying schedule.
special visit from the USAF soon appeared on the horizon from
the East in the form of a KC-135 Stratotanker, a rare guest
for one day only. The mammoth jet carried out a single pass
with its fuelling probe trailing.
break in the flying schedule allowed for a reflective look of
what had taken place so far. Other than the hazy skies, there
was a noticeable change to the flying displays. Elements of
the flying did look to be further away and higher at times,
but not massively. What was noticeable was the lack of top side
passes aircraft were making and a lack of exuberance in the
actual flying displays and patterns when compared to previous
shows held at Duxford before the changes implemented by the
CAA. Looking around on the show ground it was also obvious that
on the Saturday at least there was an overall lower attended
than at previous shows. For now it must be said that there are
obvious changes to the flying, but one can live in hope that
given time things may return to normal.
the mid show break ended and the flying recommenced the crowd
were treated to some spritely flying displays from the aerobatic
LeVier Cosmic Wind followed by the de Havilland Canada Beaver
of the Aircraft Restoration Company.
The next segment to get airborne was “The Hot War –
Vietnam”, which hosted a treat of Vietnam era aircraft
including The Bronco Demo Team, some rotary action from MSS
Holdings Bell UH-1 Iroquois and Hughes OH-6A Cayuse, as well
as the radial engined T-28 Fennic.
Fennic was the first to display with a rather basic display,
a little too far away from the crowd to get the full enjoyment.
To follow this was the Bronco Demo team consisting of a Shorts
SC-7 Skyvan and North American OV-10 Bronco which in this reviewers
opinion was one of the stars of the show, taking off in formation
and giving a brief pairs flying display before breaking and
carrying out a semi solo display consisting of a dramatic Khe
Sanh landing and brief stop before taking off again, whilst
under constant air cover from the Bronco to depict a typical
scenario developed during the Vietnam War at the Khe Sanh Marine
base. The display was completed with a dramatic steep dived
dual Keh Sanh landing from both the Bronco and Skyvan.
To complete the hot war the “Huey” and the”
Loach” got airborne and started their fly in to the sounds
of Wagner and Flight of the Valkyries. Always great sites to
behold for any true aviation fan as both of these are extremely
rare in the UK skies. Both airframes are “War Horses”
having both served in the Vietnam War, with the OH-6A still
bearing some battle scars from its days in “Nam”.
skies of Duxford now awaited the arrival of the RAF’s
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with their Douglas Dakota
along with one of their Spitfires and Hurricanes from their
extensive collection. Sadly due to starter motor issues the
Dakota was unable to attend so the crowd had to make do with
a display from Spitfire Mk XVIE TE311 and Hurricane IIC LF363
, which exercised both pilots close formation flying abilities,
albeit it be at quite a distance.
lengthy aerobatic display from the RedBulll Matadors in their
Sbach aircraft gave a change of pace for spectators with some
tight aerobatic formation flying, climbing to height and tumbling
down in trails of their display smoke.
the show moved towards the final few segments, the viewing
crowd were treated to some fantastic formation flying from
a pair of C-47 Skytrains representing troop support throughout
wartime. The display included a tandem formation landing which
swept in low from the West and down onto the grass landing
strip of Duxford Airfield. A truly fantastic site and piece
Penultimate set piece represented the pacific theatre of World
War Two, including an allied fighter tail chase to take down
a Japanese Zero Fighter in this case represented by a highly
modified Harvard training aircraft. The allied contingent
was well represented by a Curtiss P-40 C Tomahawk, a Grumman
FM-2 Wildcat, a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair and last but not least
an immaculate Curtiss Hawk 75, all owned and operated by The
Fighter Collection. The display itself included a lengthy
tail chase, but unfortunately certain aspects felt a little
flat and distant.
show came to an end with a high energy display from the RAF
Typhoon Display from 29 Squadron based at RAF Conningsby.
The display felt like it came and went in the blink of an
eye, perhaps due to the dramatic ramp up in pace from earlier
displays in the day. Flt Lt Mark Long completed his display
with a truly magnificent power climb, reaching high altitude
in a matter of seconds before levelling out at height and
heading for home.
the show came to an end and the crowd began to disperse around
the Duxford site it was clear that changes brought in by the
CAA had reduced the amount of dynamic flying the crowds had
grown used to at Duxford. With such changes being expectant
in conjunction with levels of uncertainty within the air show
world it may have accounted for lower than normal attendance
figures. That being said, there was still enough activity,
noise, smells and excitement going on to keep this reviewer
occupied. It was clear that teams behind the planning at Duxford
have been hard at work to ensure they meet new standards set
by the CAA, whilst also trying to make sure the crowds get
a worthwhile air show experience.
are trying times for air show organisers and the best thing
fans can do at the moment is support the air shows, continue
to attend and try to understand that organisers are under
pressure. All in all Duxford put on an enjoyable day, with
extensive ground & static displays with varied flying
displays from a range of different types of aircraft despite
the restrictions operators and pilots now face. As the viewing
audience we can only hope that things slowly return to normal
over the course of the season and crowds continue to attend
by Jonathan Wintle