The 2015 season was once again opened by the Abingdon Air & Country Show which promised a wide variety of displays. Unfortunately the weather and luck did not play ball and forced the cancellations of several star items including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster B.I, the Royal Navy’s Westland Sea King HU Mk. 5 as well as the debut of Will Greenwood’s Yakovlev Yak 3M and the majority of the civilian fly-in visitors. The show still soldiered on despite the tricky conditions and was a very enjoyable affair with some truly spectacular performances.
With significantly few aircraft visiting the show, the static display was somewhat smaller than previous years but still featured some interesting types such as the Royal Air Force’s Agusta-Westland AW101 Merlin HC Mk. 3A from nearby RAF Benson. One of the star items of display was the wonderful return of the Army Historic Aircraft Flight to the UK airshow circuit with their Westland Scout AH Mk. 1 which arrived and later departed alongside Terry Martin’s Westland Wasp HAS.1 which was also present in the static park. The more rotary types were represented by the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance’s Eurocopter EC135 T2+ and the Gazelle Squadron with a trio of Westland Gazelles including a HT Mk. 2 and a pair of HT. Mks. There was also some interesting vintage fixed-wing aircraft that managed to attend including an Auster AOP.5, an Auster 6A Tugmaster and a pair of Yakovlev Yak 52s. Before the flying programme started, a Russian T-55 Tank fired some shells against an armoured personnel carrier.
The show was kicked off by the aerobatic marvels of The RV8tors with their pair of Vans RV-8s replacing the Vampire and then the Trojan and performed some impressive close formation flying and manoeuvres in what was some short-lived blue skies.
With the weather closing in with some showers and grey cloud meant some challenging conditions for Abingdon regular, Rod Dean in his Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 who nonetheless put on a good display with this training aircraft.
The next item has visited the show many times as part of the static display but now took to skies to display over Abingdon for the first time. This was the unusual North American-Rockwell OV-10B Bronco from the Bronco Demo Team which put on a very energetic demonstration of its agility in the hands on Tony de Bruyn.
A new shape at the show was the very popular RotorSport UK Calidus with Peter Davies at the controls who displayed a highly energetic performance in some clear skies and made good use of the display line and has already been booked to attend next year’s show.
Tony de Bruyn also provided his Shorts SC.7 Skyvan 3A from Invicta Aviation to transport several parachute display teams including The Renegades, Jump4Heroes and the RLC Silver Stars. This display also flowed better than in previous years with preparations being made before their slot and allowing the Calidus to display during the climb to the right altitude.
Classic jet action was represented by The Gnat Display Team with their two Folland Gnat T.1s who put on their usual energetic formation display including a scary moment where one of the Gnats appeared extremely low over the horizon as the heavens opened up.
The weather put a complete halt to the flying proceedings for the time being and led to the cancellations of Lauren Richardson’s Pitts S-1S Special and the BAC Jet Provost T.5 from Jet Aerobatics.
The conditions eventually improved enough that the stars of the show announced that they were coming in to perform their display as part of the commemorations of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This was the first appearance of the “Synchro Pair” which consisted of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Supermarine Spitfire LF. XVIE and the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which wore a wartime camouflage scheme. The two aircraft flew several formation passes before performing some exciting crossover manoeuvres and was concluded by a fast climb by the Typhoon.
We then witnessed another new aircraft that was displaying at the Country Show for the first time in the form of a Gloster Meteor with the Classic Air Force’s NF.11 which put on an entertaining if flat display and was a welcome addition to the show to replace the Canberra.
After appearing at the show for the first time last year, Kennet Aviation’s North American AT-6D Harvard III made a welcome return in place of the Seafire and displayed well in the tricky conditions.
More aerobatics were performed by a pair of Silence SA1100 Twisters from the Twister Aerobatics Team in some pretty bad flying conditions and yet put on a graceful but unfortunately distant performance.
Despite the Lancaster being unable to attend, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight still provided some fantastic support including a display by the Douglas DC-3C Dakota III during a brief break in the harsh weather.
Another large twin engine aircraft also displayed near the end of the show in the form of the Duxford based Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A from Plane Sailing. The amphibious aircraft displayed brilliantly with the added bonus of it being on static display earlier in the show.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight had the honour of closing the show with the Supermarine Spitfire LF. XVIE that displayed earlier alongside a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC which arrived in formation before performing solo routines and then concluding the show a single flypast together.
Overall, the show was a great success in spite of the terrible conditions during parts of the show and featured some outstanding displays including the fantastic support by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with their “Synchro Pair” being the star attraction of the day. The performances by Tony de Bruyn’s North American-Rockwell OV-10B Bronco and the Classic Air Force’s Gloster Meteor NF.11 were also very impressive even in the difficult conditions. I hope to return to the show next year and I hope for the sake of the organizers that the weather is much better.
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