RAFA Shoreham Airshow 2014 Review

I returned for my second year at the RAFA Shoreham Airshow which was celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The show put on a hugely varied flying programme with one of the best line-ups in the show’s history. This year also saw the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War with come special set pieces in the flying programme. There was also some unfortunate cancellations with the most disappointing being the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster B.X which had suffered an engine problem in the week before the show. The Royal Navy Historic Flight also had to pull out from the programme in light of the recent crash of the Hawker Sea Fury T.20 and the Fairey Swordfish Mk. II still unable to fly as well as the Irish Historic Flight and Kennet Aviation’s Douglas AD-4NA Skyraider. I attended the show on the Sunday where the Vulcan wasn’t due to display but I must say that the show was a fantastic success even with the cancellations and the lack of a delta jet on that day.

A firm Shoreham favourite opened show in the form of GliderFX with the highly aerobatic Marganski MDM-1 Fox glider and an interesting display by a Paraglider which was a great start to the day.

The Royal Air Force then put on an aerobatic demonstration with their Grob G-115E Tutor T.1 which put on probably their best display of the year with some incredibly close manoeuvres giving the clearest view of the skills new military pilots need to learn.

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Grob G-115E Tutor T.1

More aerobatic favourites came in the form of the TRIG Aerobatic Team with their pair of brightly coloured Pitts S-1Ds Specials. The routine was filled with highly energetic rolls and loops and some spectacular crossovers that demonstrated how much the team have developed in recent years.

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TRIG Aerobatic Team

There was also a nice gathering of De Havilland types that made up the next section flying. This was kicked off with the Tiger 9 team who were flying eight of their usual nine De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth IIs in a glorious formation before separating for some graceful circuits. Concluding this themed segment was the pairing of D&M Miller’s De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide and Peter Greenyer’s rare De Havilland DH.90A Dragonfly which resides as part of the Shipping and Airlines collection. The two vintage transporters flew several passes together before performing a graceful tail chase.

Barnstorming action returned to the show with the fourship of Druine D.31 Turbulents from the Headcorn based team, The Tiger Club Turbulent Team. They displayed a sequence of exciting manoeuvres including flying low under a banner held by some (brave) volunteers as well as flour bombing and balloon bursting.

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The Tiger Club Turbulent Team

The Royal Air Force were back again with another fine demonstration, this time with the Royal Air Force Falcons Parachute Display Team who dropped from their aircraft and performed excellently in great weather both in free-fall and under canopy.

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Royal Air Force Falcons Parachute Display Team

We then had a short break in the flying which gave us an opportunity to witness some well flown radio control aircraft which featured a variety of types including a Super Decathlon, EA-300, Blanik Glider, a pair of fast jets and a Hurricane. The model flying was concluded by an unorthodox but awesome formation aerobatic display with Chris Burkett’s Extra EA-300S and Mike William’s Extra EA-300 scale model.

Coming in fast was the Royal Air Force’s frontline fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which put on one of the best displays of the season with some incredible tight turns and heavy use of afterburner. Shoreham usually boasts excellent fast jet displays due to the small flight line and this was certainly the case here.

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Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4

Shifting back to aerobatics again we were treated to a display by regular show attendee, Justyn Gorman in his dynamic Extra EA-300L. The display may not be as intense as other aerobatic displays but demonstrated the pure skill and precision of the pilot.

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Extra EA-300L

The Battle of Britain become the central theme in the next display with a trio of British aviation icons. This included the Shoreham debut of the Fighter Collection’s Gloster Gladiator Mk. II, Peter Vacher’s veteran Hawker Hurricane Mk. I and the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IA. The three fighters flew several formation passes before the Gladiator performed an excellent solo displayed whilst the Spitfire and Hurricane flew in an exciting tail chase.

Continuing this theme was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who have supported the show throughout its history. Arriving in formation was the Avro Lancaster B.I and a pair of Supermarine Spitfires including the LF. IXE and LF. XVIE, radiating the sound of six Merlin engines. The fighters flew a good synchronized display before the Lancaster performed several passes and then reforming in formation for a final flypast. Despite the absence of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Lancaster, the Flight drew a lot of attention from the crowd and was certainly one of the highlights of the show to many.

We then had the beginnings of a spectacular set piece to commemorate on of the main themes of the show, the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings. The commemoration was opened with a solo display by Peter Teichman’s Supermarine Spitfire PR. XI from his Hangar 11 collection which represented the important role of photo-reconnaissance during the D-Day Landings.

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Supermarine Spitfire PR. XI

This led us comfortably into the set piece that simulated the aerial components of the landings. The allied forces were represented by three Duxford based fighters including a pair of North American P-51D Mustangs with the Old Flying Machine Company’s “Ferocious Frankie” and the Fighter Collection’s “Miss Velma” alongside the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXT, an actual D-Day veteran. After several fast passes against the airfield with plenty of pyrotechnics, the enemy forces scrambled a pair of Hispano HA-1112-M1L Buchons from the Aircraft Restoration Company and Spitfire Ltd. The five fighters fought for dominance in the air with some fantastic tail chase sequences before the Buchons finally gained the upper hand and performed a short celebratory aerobatic display. Throughout the demonstration a pair of D-Day veteran Douglas C-47A Skytrains from Aces High and Dakota Heritage Ltd flew overhead to provide top cover and put on an impressive break at the end of set piece. The whole display was incredible to watch with not a dull moment among all tail chases, formations and pyrotechnics and was one of the best aerial demonstrations I have ever seen.

Bringing the D-Day commemoration to a close was a pair of solo displays by a familiar pair of American bombers used during the Landings as well as being regular visitors to Shoreham. First up was the only international element at the show in the form of the North American B-25J Mitchell “Sarinah” from the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight and the second was Duxford’s most famous resident, the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B”. Both aircraft put on their usual impressive and entertaining routines that were the perfect conclusion to the show’s tribute to D-Day which occurred seventy years ago.

The 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War was also commemorated at the show and types used during the war were well represented by the Great War Display Team. The team performed an aerial ballet of early war tactics and combat with a total of eight replica aircraft. The Allied forces were represented by an RAF B.E.2C, a pair of RAF S.E.5As and a Sopwith Triplane whilst a pair of Junkers CL.1s and a pair of Fokker Dr.1s representing the German forces. It was also interesting to note that one of the Fokker triplanes was being flown by Bruce Dickenson, lead singer of Iron Maiden.

We moved on next to a display item that has supported the show year after year. This was of course, the Breitling Wingwalkers with their pair of vintage Boeing-Stearman Kaydets who performed a great aerobatic routine and are always a welcome addition to any show.

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Breitling Wingwalkers

Next up was the familiar shape of the Plane Sailing’s Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A which is based at Duxford. The amphibious aircraft flew some wonderfully graceful circuits over the airfield and showed off its great slow speed handling and manoeuvrability.

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Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A

The first of two classic jets displayed next with the BAC Strikemaster Mk. 82A from the North Wales Military Aircraft Services Ltd which put on a dynamic display with a good use of the smoke system fitted on this ground-attack aircraft. Coming in from North Weald was Graham Peacock’s Hawker Hunter T.7 which also flew an impressive display and showcasing what this British jet icon is capable off. Both these jets were welcome returnees to the show with both them making their Shoreham debuts last year.

The final themed display of the day was a small gathering of warbirds used by the United States Navy. This was unfortunately reduced from three aircraft to just one in the form of the Fighter Collection’s Goodyear FG-1D Corsair due to the Bearcat being unable to display due to the previous days start-up issue and the Hellcat suffering a fuel leak and had to head home to Duxford. The Corsair nonetheless still performed a fantastic solo display and was making a rare appearance outside its home airfield.

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Goodyear FG-1D Corsair

The show was closed with a masterclass of formation aerobatics with the four Extra EA-300LPs courtesy of The Blades. The team put on an excellent performance and are big supporters of the Royal Air Force Association which is one of the charitable causes that the show helps raise money for.

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The Blades

There were too many highlights to mention but the D-Day set piece with multiple fighters tail chasing each other with pyrotechnics is certainly the top display of the day. I also thinker that the ‘Little and Large’ display with Chris Burkett’s Extra EA-300S and the Great War Display Team are also worthy of special mention. The show featured the perfect commemorations to some major aviation Anniversaries as well as a wide variety of entertaining displays and I hope to return in the future.

For more photos from this show check out the entire RAFA Shoreham Airshow 2014 – Sunday album on Flickr

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