outstanding display with impeccable precision flying..."
July in the UK is often regarded as
the hottest month of the year, not just on the meteorological
charts but within the Air Show scene too, with a number of the
biggest and best air shows, not just in the UK, but also in
Flying Legends is up there as
one the hottest tickets of the year as the Premier European War
Bird show annual held by The Fighter Collection at the Imperial
War Museum Duxford.
This year’s show
promised some fantastic acts with one of the major public draws
being “The Horsemen”, the world’s only P-51 Display team.
This year The Horsemen are
displaying with two North American Aviation Mustangs which, like
themselves have also crossed the Atlantic; D Model “Frenesi” and B
Model “Berlin Express”, which was actually flying the momentous
Trans Atlantic Crossing from Texas.
Along with the flying display the show
ground is also given the vintage feel with acts such as The
Umbrella Big Band, The Manhattan Dolls and Laurel and Hardy to
keep the crowds entertained before the flying display starts.
Sunday’s show opened in unusual style
for the War Bird spectacle with a “pre show” display from the RAF
Display team The Red Arrows.
The very Popular “Reds” display
felt a little unusual at times as the display axis they used meant
that anyone on the far West end of the air field up towards the
Land Warfare museum received an excellent view to their 45 degree
angle of view, but anyone towards the East end of the air field
would have seen very little of the display.
Due to the cloud height above the
display area a full display was not possible, but Reds 1 to 9
managed to perform their rolling display, performing such
formations as “Spitfire” and “Concord” as well as the more dynamic
displays such as “the carousel” and “the detonator”.
During the display the team had
to take a brief intermission around half way through and the
aircraft had to go off and hold after another aircraft entered
their protected airspace, adding to the disjointed feeling of the
As the Red Arrows
came to the end of their display a faint rumble of Piston engines
could be heard coming from the aircraft holding area as the first
display items of the Sunday show fired up; “The Spitfires”.
A stalwart of Duxford air shows
throughout the years, Spitfire’s have always featured heavily, and
is one of the few places you can see these iconic aircraft in such
This years Flying Legends opening
Spitfire segment consisted of 9 separate airframes of varying
marks including clipped winged VB variants,
a Griffon engined Mk XVIII and
Air Leasing’s Merlin engined Seafire LF IIIC .
The opening display item included
the ever evocative tail chase sequence as well as a massed
Spitfires came towards the end of their display the Naval
Fighters segment launched and took to the air.
The Radial powered airframes
included the FG-1D Corsair and Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat, both of
The Fighter Collection along with the Hawker Fury of Anglia
Aircraft Restorations Ltd growled their way up into the skies
around Duxford awaiting their display slot.
A rather brief but satisfying
display giving some graceful formation topside passes to the
crowd line, which always pleases the photographers out there.
Since its introduction at last years Flying Legends the Hawker
Fury has made its mark on the air show scene as a firm
favourite with many.
Collection also offered up their Curtiss Fighters, minus the
chrome P36C, which wasn’t present on Sunday’s show.
The trio conducted a number of
formation passes before the Hawk 75 peeled off and left the
remaining display to the two P40’s to fly a series of tight and
Any Duxford air
show just wouldn’t be a an air show without a display from the
resident American Heavy Metal in the for of B-17G, Sally-B of B17
A flying memorial dedicated to
all the American Airmen in Europe during the Second World War.
The grand old
girl took to the air joined by her “little friend” in the form of
P-51D Mustang known as “Shark Mouth” owned and operated by the
Norwegian Spitfire Foundation.
A slow and graceful display
finished off with a smoky flypast dedicated to aircrew that never
returned from their perilous day time bombing missions over Europe
during those dark days of the Second World War.
The theme of
graceful flying continued with a display from The Classic
Formation with their polished trio of C-47 and Beech 18’s.
The Flying Legends regular shone
and shimmered their way through the display in the bright July
sunlight before returning into the circuit to land.
The pace picked
back up with a “North Africa” theatre air demonstration between
The Fighter Collections P-40F Warhawk and the Aircraft Restoration
Company’s Hispano Buchon.
The Buchon looked fantastic in
its new, but temporary battle worn desert camouflage to represent
Bf 109E-7 “Black 8”.
The display represented aerial
dogfights of the day; with the Warhawk ultimately prevailing over
is axis adversary, with the Buchon switching on the smoke before
ending the display.
It must be said that the aircraft
paintwork undertaken by Peter Medley at Flying Colours was
fantastic to see, giving a great sense of a battle worn airframe.
Duxford is well
renowned for its historical ties to the Battle of Britain given
that it was the home of No. 19 Squadron Spitfires during the
Battle, and this often reflects in the flying displays.
Flying Legends was no exception,
with a beautiful Battle of Britain flypast consisting of the
Worlds only flying Bristol Blenheim and 3 mk i / ia Spitfires all
lead by 5 Hurricanes, an undisputedly glorious sight.
quickly dispersed and each element of the group performed their
own display to the adoring crowds.
Such a gathering of aircraft is
always a glorious sight to behold but one may have thought this
display would be more suitable for the September show, which is
aptly named “The Battle of Britain Show”; perhaps this is simply a
taste of what is to come in September.
The star of the
show for many was the presence of “The Horsemen”, the World’s only
P-51 display team.
This years Flying Legends was the
first time the UK had seen the Horsemen since 2013; definitely a
most welcome return.
Following an incident with the
canopy of P-51B on the Saturday show of Legends, a last minute
change was made with the display to now include a third “D” model
in the form of “Miss Helen”, flying alongside “Frenessi” and
An outstanding display with
impeccable precision flying, including a number of low level
sweeping run ins from the West end of the flight line.
This years Flying
Legends also saw the return of an Air Racing section, a repeat of
a display seen earlier in the year at May’s Air Festival Show, a
minor difference but with the addition of a Mystery Ship and
Cosmic Wind, definitely a change of pace from the previous act.
A classy looking line up of
beautiful airframes including the Shuttleworth based De Havilland
Comet is always a welcome sight.
As the show progressed towards its finale
the crowds got the chance to see a few more displays including a
spirited performance form a single C-47 as well as further Naval
display consisting of The Fighter Collections FM-2 Wildcat, which
put on a high energy performance alongside a gentle lower level
display from Plane Sailing’s PBY Catalina.
distinctive Balbo is always a unique display of massed
airframes filling the skies with a loud roar of piston power,
with this year being no exception.
It can be said that over the
years the number of participating aircraft has dropped in
number, never the less it is still an impressive site to see
the line of vintage warbirds flying along the crowd line.
This years Balbo was tinged
with sadness with TF-5D “Miss Velma” having to make an
emergency landing in a field.
Luckily no one was hurt and
the pilot walked away from the stricken Mustang, which has
since been recovered.
As always, Flying Legends draws in
crowds from all over the world with this year being no
Its always a pleasure to walk
around the show ground and listen to all the different accents
and languages spoken by the show visitors and is truly a
testament to both the effort and planning put into the show by
The Fighter Collection and the strength and popularity of the
international Warbird scene, and long may it continue.
Here is looking forward to
next years Flying Legends.
by Jonathan Wintle