Airbourne, Eastbourne’s International Airshow has become a regular show for me to attend. This year showcased a large variety of historic and modern aircraft on the Saturday when I attended in some spectacular weather.
Opening the show was the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows with their nine BAe Hawk T.1As who put on a fantastic full demonstration of formation and synchronized aerobatics in the clear blue skies.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron has become a regular attendee at the show and their first contribution of the day was the pair of De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55 and De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.52. The classic jet duo performed a graceful formation display over the sea and is always a welcome sight at the UK airshow scene.
The first of several large warbirds arrived next in the form of the Bristol Blenheim Mk. I from the Duxford based Aircraft Restoration Company in the hands of John Romain who put the aircraft through a sublime routine. This was shortly followed by a second ‘twin’, the North American B-25J Mitchell “Sarinah” from the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight which also flew a great display and allowing for a good view of the bomb doors during one of its passes.
Next up was Team Raven who were making their first appearance at Eastbourne. The team fly six aircraft consisting of a solo Vans RV-4 and five Vans RV-8s which combined to perform an excellent display full of great formations and aerobatic manoeuvres with a good use of their smoke systems.
An unusual shape in the air was another Eastbourne debutant, the Bronco Demo Team’s North American-Rockwell OV-10B Bronco which showed off its incredible manoeuvrability and a surprising aerobatic capability.
The Hangar 11 collection also returned again with the North American P-51D Mustang now appearing as “Tall In The Saddle” with the colours of the ‘Tuskagee Airmen’ of 332nd Fighter Group. It was flown in spectacular style by Peter Teichman who put the warbird through its paces and the showing why this American icon was one of the best fighters of the Second World War.
More aerobatics came from the four Extra EA-300LPs from The Blades who put on one of their signature demonstrations of formation and unlimited aerobatics with plenty of smoke artistry.
We then changed pace with another new display act for the show, the Great War Display Team. The team arrived over the sea with nine of their aircraft including three RAF S.E.5A Replicas, two Fokker Dr.1 Replicas, two Junkers CL.1 Replicas, an RAF B.E.2C Replica and a Sopwith Triplane Replica. The replicas performed a re-enactment of First World War dogfighting before a final flypast and marking Eastbourne’s early links to aviation due to its close proximity to some Royal Flying Corps and Royal Navy Air Service stations.
Moving back to the era of the Second World War, we were treated to an excellent display by Duxford’s most famous resident, the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B” which was making a welcome return after several years.
Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated display was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which returned with the Avro Lancaster B.I which was absent for all of last year’s and most of this year’s season due to an engine fire early last year. The iconic British bomber was joined by the Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE who performed solo displays before the Lancaster took centre stage once again. The final flypast with all three aircraft was very special due to not being seen for so long.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s second contribution to the show, the PZL-Mielec SBLim-2 arrived promptly and went straight into a very graceful classic jet routine. This Polish built version of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI ‘Midget’ is painted to represent ‘Red 18’, the personal aircraft of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
Classic jet action continued with the ‘JetPro’ pair which consisted of a BAC Jet Provost T.3 from the Jet Provost Display Team and a BAC Jet Provost T.5 from Jet Aerobatics. The trainer pair flew some formation flypasts before performing some solo manoeuvres and crossover passes.
Barnstorming has always been a popular airshow attraction and the Breitling Wingwalkers are certainly experts at this with their dynamic display with two Boeing-Stearman Kaydets, each adorned with a glamourous lady on the top wings which really enhanced the display.
The British Army dropped in again with The Tigers Freefall Team of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment to the delight of the crowds as they descended towards the water near the promenade.
It was down to Aircraft Restoration Company to provide the penultimate display with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXT which put on an excellent solo display of one of the most famous fighters of the Second World War.
The Royal Air Force took the honour of performing Airbourne’s finale with their frontline fighter jet, the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 from No. 29(R) Squadron which put on a spectacular routine with lots of noise and afterburner and bought the show to a satisfying conclusion.
This year’s Airbourne was definitely one of the best in recent time, not only due to the amazing weather but also some fantastic displays. The Royal Air Force was on top form with The Red Arrows and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 as well as the long awaited return of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster B.I to the UK airshow scene. The BAC Jet Provost pair was also an excellent addition to the display alongside the PZL-Mielec SBLim-2 from the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. I hope to return next year where Airbourne will hosting its 25th show.
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