The next event I visited was the last show at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford which featured a wide selection of different aircraft from the fragile fighters of the First World War to the roaring jets of yesteryear as well as stunning aerobatics and vintage warbirds. I attended the show on the Saturday only which had quite a lot of classic jets in the programme and though I wouldn’t witness the two Lancasters on Sunday, the day was thoroughly enjoyable.
There were several aircraft on static display featuring several Duxford based residents including Mark Miller’s Auster J/1 Autocrat, D&M Miller’s De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide, a Nieuport 17 Replica, the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Nord 1002 Pingouin II and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IA. Perhaps the highlight of the static display was the Golden Apple Operations Ltd.’s North American F-86A Sabre making its last public appearance before being shipped off the United States of America and will surely be missed as it was a regular at many airshows across the UK.
A pair of classic jet trainers took to the air to open the show in the form of two BAC Jet Provosts with the T.5 from Jet Aerobatics and the T.5A formerly of Kennet Aviation. The British trainers performed a great formation displayed before going into a small tail chase.
Vintage aerobatics were the next feature of the show with the popular Breitling Wingwalkers putting on a fantastic barnstorming display with their duo of Boeing-Stearman Kaydets along with the enthusiastic action of the wingwalkers on top of the aircraft.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are regular visitors to the show and contributed their Douglas DC-3C Dakota III as part of the commemoration of the D-Day Landings where the famous transporter aircraft flew an impressive routine.
Having seen some classic trainers at the start of the show, we now turned to one of the Royal Air Force’s current trainers in the form of the Shorts Tucano T.1 which put on an apt demonstration of its capabilities. The aircraft was also wearing a special paint scheme to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War and to pay tribute to those who fought during the war.
We next saw a series of displays by some Duxford residents that are often overlooked. First up was the unusual pairing of Jeanne Frazer’s Piper J-3C-65 Cub and the LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina” which performed an interesting displayed of tighter turns and aerobatic maneuverers. Next up was another duet which featured the Boeing-Stearman PT-27 Kaydet from Golden Apple Operation’s Ltd and the De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver AL Mk. 1 of the Aircraft Restoration Company. This displayed consisted of some loose formation flypasts which led into a sedate tail chase which really showed the great qualities of these two radial engine aircraft.
A familiar sight over the Duxford was Plane Sailing’s Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A which also put on a fine display with some great passes in various configurations used when landing on land or water.
The fighter Collection then took centre stage with a pairing of their Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 and Curtiss P-40F Kittyhawk Mk. II who flew in formation for a single pass before flying separate solo displays.
Despite the Red Arrows not displaying when I attended, their 50th Anniversary was still celebrated with the appearance of The Gnat Display Team who were flying a pair of Folland Gnat T.1s which are predecessors of the Hawk. One of the jets was painted to represent the Red Arrows’ colours and the other representing their form roll as trainers. They displayed brilliantly with some great passes and aerobatic manoeuvres and this was not the last time we saw these classic jets at the show.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight made another appearance at the show with two of their fighters who were delayed and unable to appear immediately after the Dakota. The Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE flew a brief formation display before flying their own solo routines.
Next up was some powerful radial engine trainers based at Duxford with Radial Revelations’ North American AT-28D Trojan and Groupe Fennec’s North American T-28A Fennec resplendent in different French markings. The two aircraft radiated the rattling sound of their engines as they performed a very intense tail chase.
The only helicopter at the show was the Royal Air Force’s Westland Sea King HAR Mk. 3A which performed an impressive search and rescue demonstration. This type of display will soon be phased out as this helicopter type will soon be withdrawn from service as search and rescue roles will soon be performed by private contractors.
The last aerobatic display of the show was the TRIG Aerobatic Team with a pair of Pitts S-1D Specials which performed their usual exciting display with some highly energetic manoeuvres.
A trio of warbirds representing types used by the United States Navy were next to display and feature a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair, a Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat and a Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat which are all operated by the Fighter Collection. The three fighters flew in formation to begin their display which then consisted of the Bearcat performing solo manoeuvres whilst the Hellcat and Corsair flew low and fast along the crowd line.
British aviation was the central theme of the next display with a total of five iconic fighters. These featured a fourship of Supermarine Spitfires including the Aircraft Restoration Company’s pair of Mk. IAs as well as a pair of LF. VBs from the Historic Aircraft Collection and the Fighter Collection. The Historic Aircraft Collection also provided their Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA which flew with the Mk. IAs in some low high speed passes whilst the LF. VBs performed a graceful formation display.
The Great War Display Team have been attending a large amount of events to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War and were also in attendance at Duxford. The team re-enacted the chaotic aerial battles that occurred during the war 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 the German forces were represented by a pair of Junkers CL.1s and Fokker Dr.1s with one of the former being flown by Bruce Dickenson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden.
The star of the show was yet another classic jet and one of the most sought after display items. This was of course, the Avro Vulcan B.2 which arrived in formation with the two Folland Gnat T.1s from The Gnat Display Team and flew with them for several passes before it roared in for its own display. The performance was one of its finest I have seen the real clincher was when this cold war bomber turned towards the crowd at the highest point of its climb.
Duxford’s most famous resident, the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B” also displayed near the end of the show with its usual impressive performance that is synonymous with shows held at Duxford.
The finale for the show was a fantastic routine displayed by Graham Peacock’s Hawker Hunter T.7 which made its UK airshow debut at Duxford in 2013. The jet made a massive improvement to last year’s display, coming much closer to the ground along with some fantastic aerial manoeuvres and upon landing, concluded the event.
The show was complete success with one of the most varied flying displays in recent years with great selection of vintage aircraft. Some of the highlights included the fantastic displays and formation of The Gnat Display Team and the Avro Vulcan B.2 as well as the brilliant solo routine of the Hawker Hunter T.7. Also worthy of mention would be the performances by the various aircraft of the Duxford based Fighter Collection with the trio of United States Navy warbirds being one of the best. I hope to return to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford where they will be commemorating VE Day and the Battle of Britain at the Spring and September shows respectively.
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