It was great to have another new airshow in Kent with the return of the Folkestone Airshow which was organised by Open Air Promotions. The show was held over two days with the large majority of the displays appearing only on Saturday which left Sunday significantly lacklustre. I must also comment on severe lack of updates on their website which indicated items confirmed which were no longer attending (i.e. the Sabre) as well as the outrageous prices for ‘premium’ car parking. Nonetheless the show had a strong line up with several major highlights as well as some glorious weather after a rough and stormy start in the morning.
The show was opened on Saturday by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows with their nine BAe Hawk T.1As who were putting on one of their first displays of the season after their long training regime in Cyprus. The team now also featured special tail markings to commemorate the team’s 50th Display Season and they put on an excellent performance over the sea which also included an impressive pass overhead once they concluded their display.
More Royal Air Force action was demonstrated by the Shorts Tucano T.1 wearing its special markings to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War. The displays was distant at times but did a great job at showing off its capabilities as a trainer.
Some warbirds were also featured in the programme with the first being Kennet Aviation’s North American AT-6D Harvard III which only appeared on Sunday with a great display of its manoeuvrability with its distinctive engine noise.
The first aerobatic display of the show was two Vans RV-8s from The RV8tors. The pair put on a highly energetic and entertaining aerobatic display on both days of the show with plenty of close formation flying and solo routines plus lots of smoke.
Helicopters were also present over the sea with a search and rescue demonstration by a Westland Sea King HAR Mk. 3A from the Royal Air Force alongside the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in one of their lifeboats. The demonstration only occurred on Saturday due to the big yellow helicopter being called out on the Sunday.
Undoubtedly, the stars of the show the English Electric Canberra PR.9 and Hawker Hunter T.7 from the Midair Squadron which were making their debut performance as a pair on the Saturday. After a series of formation passes the two classic jets split at crowd centre and the Hunter put on a small solo display which although distant was very enjoyable. The Canberra then took centre stage with a noisy but graceful performance before accelerating for a final fast pass that gave off an impressive ‘blue note’.
We returned to the Royal Air Force where we witnessed another one of their training aircraft, the Grob G-115E Tutor T.1 which put on a good display of its training capabilities which was quite distant for the majority of its performance.
More aerobatic teams arrived to entertain the crowds with the Breitling Wingwalkers coming in first with their typical array of barnstorming antics in their pair of vintage Boeing-Stearman Kaydets with the glamorous Wingwalkers performing on the top wings. Next up was another team that is a favourite at airshows in the form of The Blades who were only flying three of their four Extra EA-300LPs due to a technical issue who despite this setback put on a dynamic display of unlimited aerobatics.
Our final classic jet display was the BAC Strikemaster Mk. 82A which is operated by North Wales Military Aviation Services Ltd. This derivative of the Jet Provost was making its debut display over Folkestone which incorporated a smoke system and some impressive manoeuvres on both days of the show.
The Army Air Corps was represented on both days by the Westland Lynx AH Mk. 7 which put on an incredible aerobatic display which only this version of the Lynx can do and despite the distance of the performance was highly enjoyable to watch. It is unfortunate that this will be the final display season of this helicopter before its imminent retirement and replacement.
Solo aerobatics were demonstrated by Richard Goodwin in his Pitts S-2S Special who performed some of the finest aerobatic routines I have ever seen with plenty of smoke and noise from this vintage biplane over the two days.
It wouldn’t be an airshow without Britain’s most famous aviation icon, the Supermarine Spitfire and we were blessed with two different displays on both days. Saturday saw the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s LF. IXE who appeared alone due to the Lancaster and Hurricane being stuck in France due to technical issues but still displayed excellently. On Sunday it was the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar’s turn with their recently restored LF. IXC which also performed a fine routine. Both the Spitfires that were saw were also veterans of the D-Day Landings.
The final aerobatic team was the TRIG Aerobatic Team with a pair of Pitts S-1D Specials and demonstrated their great aerobatic prowess with a highly dynamic display. The team performed on both days but were the closing act on the Saturday.
The last aircraft to display on the Sunday was another British aviation icon, the Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIB which hails from North Weald and his flown by Peter Teichman within his Hangar 11 collection. The aircraft displayed brilliantly on both days and was a great way to end the whole airshow.
The show was a very enjoyable affair with Saturday holding the bulk of the displays with the Midair Squadron pair of English Electric Canberra PR.9 and Hawker Hunter T.7 being the main highlights. Also worthy of mention was The Red Arrows performing over Folkestone again as well as the displays by Richard Goodwin’s Pitts S-2S Special and the Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXC from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. I hope Folkestone is able to put on another show such as this with perhaps a more balanced two day programme (and Cheaper parking).
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