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Duxford Autumn Airshow 2010

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Duxfords Autumn air display has now become the established finale to the airshow year. The emphasis for this years display, was to celebrate the 65th birthday of B-17 Sally B, and the 75th birthday of the B-17 model itself. First designated as the Boeing model 299 and later to become known as the B-17 flying Fortress, The aircraft saw service with the USAAF across the world. Large numbers were to be based in the UK, so it is fitting that a celebration should take place. For a change the weather looked like playing ball, On arrival at Duxford the airfield was covered with mist. This soon disappeared leaving a glorious blue backdrop. For a photographer, Duxford can be a nightmare with the sun in your face for most of the day. On the ground you had the usual attractions that Duxford offers. The trade stalls looked a little thinner than normal, but a nice touch came in the form of the Parachute Regiments band..

The participation list looked like a nice variation. It did look odd without any spitfires (although there was the Kennet Seafire). I had a chat with one of the RNHF’s chaps on their stall and he was very hopeful that the newly airworthy swordfish would make an appearance, although his wife had rung him and said weather at Yeovilton was not brilliant at that time. The only cancellation was the Dunsfold based DC3.
The Show started at 1.30 with The main theme taking to the air. Whilst off formatting up, the undoubted star of the day made its 1st appearance at an air display since 1999. Unfortunately unable to display, the RNHF’s swordfish was very warmly welcomed. Once on the ground, Sally B was escorted by 3 P-51s in her 1st pass, this followed a single pass by 2 F15s from Lakenheath. The F15s have become a regular at the Autumn air shows. Once they had departed for home Sally B re-entered from crowd centre front, with her bomb bay doors open. The P51s flew in the overhead. The B-17s final pass was a ‘trailing smoke’ pass which is used to show a thank you to all the members of the Sally B supporters club. I personally thought that the display was a little short considering it was to be the main event. After landing the 3 P-51s re-entered and OFMC’s Ferocious Frankie did a great solo.
The next act was the delightful LeVier Cosmic wind ‘Ballerina’ owned by Pete Kynsey. Described as ‘a pocket rocket’, The display showed just why it was given that nickname. This followed the FrazerBlades owned L4a Grasshopper. It certainly did not need too much runway to get airborne and the routine really showed of the reasons why the Grasshopper was such a battlefield success. The 3rd aircraft in this section of the show was Golden Apple trusts beautiful Stearman. This started from a high dive in and followed a set of loops and a great stall turn. The blue and yellow livery looked very smart against the Duxford skies. I really enjoyed this part of the show and thought it was some of the best flying of the day.

The 1st Fighter collection aircraft to display was their Harvard. Anna Walker it was another fine piece of flying. After the unmistakable engine sound of the Harvard had disappeared, 2 T-28 fennec’s, the Successor of the Harvard took off to hold. The RAF’s Hawk role demo was next and was flown by Scott Griffiths, also known as Disco. The display started with a wheels down pass and has been put together to show the role that the Hawk takes up in training. I personally thought the display used a little too much sky, which left too may gaps in the show. The T-28s followed with a nice formation display and then a split into some solo work. Tom Bould finished this section of the show in the Tucano. He will be off to be 19 squadron soon for tactical weapons training.

Not since 1988, had Duxford seen a truck top landing. Enter Brendan o Brien in his modified Piper Cub to attempt it. Brendan’s crazy flying has been a popular item this season, and he didn’t disappoint. After a couple of touch downs on the trailer, he managed to nail it. Well done Brendan!!! The car and trailer with cub aborted then drove off down the runway and took off from the top of the trailer. The Royal Navy helicopter team, the Black Cats did a superb synchronized show in their Lynx helicopters, which was then followed by the BBMF solo Hurricane display. As the Hurricane completed with a victory roll, the Swordfish departed for Yeoviton. I think everyone is looking forward to seeing her display next year.

With the Swordfish departure, a distinct naval theme then took over. A great combination came in the shape of Kennets Seafire, TFC’s Sea Fury and RNHF’s Sea Hawk. The formation looked amazing against the deep blue sky. After a few passes the formation split into solos, with the Sea Hawk first. FLT LT Ian Sloane completed a series of beautiful turns and rolls before a dirty pass in the Sea Hawk. Next Was TFC’s Seafury. This aircraft still has its original Bristol Centaurus engine still in place and the display truly showed the awesome power it possesses. The Sea fire finished of the trio of solos.

Another great trip down memory lane was the tribute to the Rothmans display team. This consisted of 4 Pitts Special aircraft performing some precise formation flying before splitting into 2 elements for pairs displays. I particularly enjoyed this having flown in a Pitts S2 myself. The Catalina followed these, with a pair of true D-Day veteran C47s next. Drag em oot, one of the C47s still bares the scars of those days. Another great display was seen in the form of the Bearcat. As ever an inspiring piece of flying. To end the show was the oldest Jet flying in the Europe, Golden Apple Trusts F-86 Sabre. You cannot fail to be impressed by this aircraft. The black smoke pumped out from the early jet engine technology is synonymous with the Sabre. A great way to end a superb days flying.
This was another quality, and varied line-up from the Duxford team, and brought an end to the seasons shows. It has been a superb season and looking to the future, next year looks very exciting, with TFC’s P-47 Razorback nearing completion and the RNHF’s Swordfish and Seafury hopefully fully on the display circuit. The big question is ‘Will the Vulcan be there’?…………
Review by Neil Darby - click HERE for Neil's Showcase