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Duxford Spring Airshow 2012

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Duxfords first airshow of the 2012 season took place on Sunday the 27th May. As with most Duxford shows, there was a theme. This year sees the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The display brought together aircraft from the last 60 years, many with Royal connections. With Duxford also having been visited by many Royals over the year's, including the Queen herself, where better for a right royal airshow!

 
 
 

The airfield was bathed in glorious sunshine for the whole day, which is a novelty for UK airshows. On the ground there were the usual attractions to see. It was nice to see a few new additions to the museum in both the aviation and military (army) fields. The newly restored DeHavilland Vampire being a highlight. The trade stalls seemed a bit thin on the ground but there was plenty to spend yer pocket money on though!! I only have one bad comment about the day, and i'm sure there are many more people who would agree that the catering van's are ridiculously priced. £4.50 for a luke warm frankfurter was absolutely awful. Burgers cost even more. I will say that the IWM's restaurant and cafe are much better value and the sandwich's are awesome!!

Rant over, the show kicked off at 2pm with the return of the RAF's Typhoon FGR4. The RAF Tiffie made very few appearances last season due to operational constarints and it was great to see it back again. Sqdn Ldr Scott Loughran was at the controls of the 6 Squadron Typhoon from RAF Leuchars. Scott is no stranger to Typhoon displays as he was the 2009 display pilot. After a great dynamic performance Scott headed back to Leuchars to make way for long time resident of Duxford, B-17 sally B to take to the air. A flying memorial to the USAAF, Sally B has lived at Duxford since 1975. She is operated as a charity and is run by a great team. Costing £15,000 per hour to fly, She needs all the support she can get. As usual, she flew numerous , graceful passes, finishing on her '2 smoking engine's' pass which is a tribute to all of her supporters. May she long grace our skies!!

 
 

Anna Walker and John Dodd gave a spirited performance in a pair of North American Harvards next. The engines giving of there throaty sounds sounded perfect in the deep blue skies. Afterwards, a Royal Navy Lynx from 815 naval air squadron based at Yeovilton gave a nice display. demonstrating how agile the aging Lynx is. The latest model, the HMA.8 is used as an anti-submarine and maritime attack helicopter. Another military display act appeared from crowd rear in the shape of the BBMF.

Flying with the Lancaster at Duxford were Hurricane MKllc (LF363) and Spitfire PRXlX (PM631). After a formation pass, the 3 aircraft split, with first the Spitfire display, then the Hurricane almost mimicking the spitfire. I did find that the Fighters displays seemed quite high. Lastly the Lancaster roared across Duxford with some absolutely stunning passes. To finish the Fighter pair formed up with the Bomber and gave us another formation pass before heading off. The true spirit of Britain!!!

A pair of stunning Hawker Nimrod biplanes and HAC's Hurricane delighted the crowd next with a beautiful formation pass before splitting for a Nimrod duo display. The Hurricane solo was very short, but great to see. Great work by Stu Goldspink and Charlie Brown in the Nimrods. To follow there were two more acts from the RAF in the form of the King Air and the Tucano. This year see's the Tucano sporting a beautiful paint scheme for the jubilee celebrations. I think this scheme looks superb, especially against the brilliant blue skies.

Another aircraft sporting a new paintjob for this year was the Belgian air components F-16. Not only new colours, but a new pilot too. The display was superb with some nice 'flare' shots rarely seen in the UK now. i really liked the 150 knot high alpha pass and the vertical climb out. New colours were abundant at Duxford this year. Sporting there new Red Bull colours, The Matadors looked fantastic. This was there public debut in their new Red Bull livery. After some very nice formation tailslides and there signature 'inside outside' loop Steve Jones took centre stage for the first solo. The highlight of this was his torque rolls. Red Bull air race ace, Pual Bonhomme finished of their display with some more incredible aerobatics. The SBach 300 aircraft they fly are truly amazng freestyle aerobatic aircraft.

A Sea King from 22 Squadron, RAF Wattisham performed a mock rescue on the airfield with one of B flights other pilots acting as the rescuee. The SAR SeaKings perform a vital role in rescues all over the UK and the demo illustrated just how good these men are. With their rescue over and 2 passes for the photographer, they buzzed off back to Wattisham. Air Atlantique Classic Trusts immaculate Meteor T.7 followed with its silver paint looking splendid against a still, blue sky. Dan Griffiths did a super job...

Something different was next. Named the Royal Fourship, a DeHavilland Dragon Rapide, Avro Anson and 2 Chipmunks flew in a unique formation. With the Chipmunk pair peeling away the 2 classic twins brought back a golden era feel to the show. A few passes later, the Chipmunk pair had their go . One of the Chipmunks, was actually used to teach Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales to fly. Rounding of the Yesteryear era was a fine display by Gordon Branders great little Bucker Jungmeister Flown by Alex Smee.

A first for Duxford and the mainland UK was the French display team Patrouille Cartouche Dore. The team use 3 Socata TB30 Epilson aircraft. The team were formed in 1989 to celebrate 100,000 hours flight time of the TB30 aircraft. The display was full of very tight formation work, but I felt it a little bit long. I really enjoyed their manouvre called the pacman where 1 aircraft aproaches the other 2 head on. 1 pulls, 1 pulls donwards and the othe flies through the middle. Brilliant!!!

With the impending retirement of the RAF's fast jet trainer the Hawk T.1, this year will be the last chance to see the display hawk. I think people were really looking forward to seeing the freshly painted 'display Hawk', but unfortunately it's not finished, so they sent a black one from 208 squadron.

The finale for this years Jubilee airshow aws left to a true british hero. Probably the most famous aircraft in the world, a trio of Spitfires took to the skies for a lovelly v formation pass. Pete Kynsey, Brian Smith and Paul bonhomme did a fine job showing these truly iconic aircraft. It was then turned into a tailchase before breaking to land. A nice touch was the commentators letting the Spitfires do the talking whilst they flew. I say Finale, thats not strictly true.

Appearing from the right was Anna walker in a super cub towing a banner which read 'IWM Duxford salutes EllR' A fitting end to a great days flying that the Queen herself would have been proud of. Well done again to the team at Duxford. See you again soon for Flying Legends 2012......

Review by Neil Darby

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