The question everyone was wondering about the 2013 edition of Airbourne was whether The Red Arrows will be returning? The answer was yes and not just for the weekend but for all four days of the show in which they closed the air display on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and performed in amongst the other displays on Sunday. The show also saw the return of international participation with the return of the Belgian Air Component’s Lockheed-Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon and the UK debut of a pair of Dassault MD.315 Flamants from France. Airbourne was also chosen to the launch platform for Disney’s latest animated feature, ‘Planes’ which was highlighted with a special display by The Matadors. I was fortunate enough to attend both the Thursday and the Sunday of the show.
The British Army was charged with opening the weekend’s displays with The Tigers Freefall Team who are always welcome participants to the show.
The first aerobatic team to display at the show was the Twister Aerobatic Team with their pair of graceful Silence SA1100 Twisters which put on a very tight routine with free flowing aerobatics and set the tone for the rest of day’s displays.
We kicked things up notch with Peter Teichman’s Curtiss P-40M Kittyhawk Mk. III which is now displaying a new paint scheme. The Hangar 11 Collection are regulars at Airbourne and always put on a great performance but this was perhaps one of the best in recent years with plenty of photogenic passes.
The first classic jet to display at the show was Airbourne regular, the BAC Jet Provost T.5 from Jet Aerobatics which performed a flawless routine with a wide variety of aerobatics and fast passes and is always a welcome sight at this show.
Following on was the Jet Provost’s replacement in Royal Air Force service, the Shorts Tucano T.1 which performed well but was very distant throughout the display and made its display somewhat underwhelming.
More warbird action arrived from behind in the form of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s magnificent trio of an Avro Lancaster B.I, a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and a Supermarine Spitfire PR. XIX. These British icons performed a series of formation passes before separating to begin their solo routines with the Lancaster being to major highlight as the fighters were a bit too distant during their displays.
Extreme aerobatics were next on the cards with the familiar intense displays of The Matadors who instead of wearing their usual Red Bull colours opted for the Orange and Green colours of Dusty and Ripslinger from Disney’s latest animated film, Planes. The pair flew a stunning routine with a combination of aerobatics and close formation flying and was defiantly one of the best displays of the show.
Next up was a major first for Airbourne with the appearance of not just one, but two Dassault MD.315 Flamants from France and are both owned by Amicale des Avions Anciens d’Albert. The pair consisted of an MD.311 which was used for training for a variety of military roles including bombing, navigation and photography, whilst the MD.312 was a transport and communications aircraft. These stunning aircraft performed a series of passes in formation before breaking up to perform a series of excellent manoeuvres that were very reminiscent of Dakotas we’ve seen at airshows. I hope these aircraft make a return to the UK again soon as they were an absolute delight to watch.
Moving back to modern military we next had the show’s only rotary display in the form of the Boeing Chinook HC.2 from the Royal Air Force. The big transport helicopter performed some outstanding and seemingly impossible manoeuvres which always amaze all those who witness it. I will never tire of seeing this excellent aircraft perform and long may it continue.
After missing last year’s show due to commitments in Russia, it was fantastic to be able to see The Red Arrows perform everyday at Airbourne as well as being back to the full contingent of nine BAe Hawk T.1As. The team closed the proceedings on most of the show days but entertaining during the afternoon on the Sunday. They flew fantastic displays throughout the entire four days and were responsible for the massive numbers of people attending the show, especially on the Thursday.
Returning after being absent for last year’s airshow season was the pair of Vans RV-8s being flown by The RV8tors who have really enhanced their display throughout the 2013 season with Airbourne showing them at their best with lots of speed and precision during their aerobatic routine.
Another popular team that usually attends the show was the Breitling Wingwalkers with their pair of vintage Boeing-Stearman Kaydets as well as the glamorous young ladies adorning the upper wings of these aircraft. The team performed a flawless routine which always looks better over the ocean and the bright skies.
The sound of a Merlin engine coming over the sea was heard next in the form of the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXT. This fabulous British warbird flew a splendid display over the seaside crowds and was fittingly concluded with a poignant victory roll.
Due to commitments over the weekend, Airbourne’s only international participant could only display on Thursday and Friday. This was the return of the Belgian Air Component’s Lockheed-Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon which performed an amazing display with plenty of speed, noise, smoke and flares which made this jet one of the major stars of the show and probably my favourite display of the whole show.
Classic jets were not to be forgotten or outclassed with the appearance of the Duxford based North American F-86A Sabre which filled in where the F-16 could not over the weekend. It was safe to say that this Korean War icon certainly performed well with one of its finest displays yet.
More noise came in the form of the ever familiar bright colours of Jonathan Whaley’s Hawker Hunter F.58A “Miss Demeanour” which also performed brilliantly over the seaside especially during the slow pass where the pilot opens the cockpit mid-pass before firing up the engine once again.
The last aerobatic portion of the show was by The Blades with their four Extra EA-300Ls. With the sun setting behind them, the team flew a fantastic display with some intense aerobatic formations and solo manoeuvres before ending their performance with a visually appealing break.
Closing Sunday’s show and the entire Airbourne show itself was the Royal Air Force’s frontline fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which bought plenty of noise and afterburner. The Typhoon demonstrated its phenomenal agility, speed and precision which would be used in a combat scenario and was a fitting end to a fantastic airshow.
I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s edition of Airbourne and was particularly pleased to see some international participants return as well as having The Red Arrows back over the skies of Eastbourne. Hopefully next year will have even more surprises and excellent displays.
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