One of the newer shows this season was the Herne Bay Airshow which is only in its second year and boasted a wide variety of displays aircraft from modern fighters and classic jets to warbirds of both world wars. The show was marred somewhat by an aircraft ditching in the sea but no serious injuries resulted from the incident. I will detail more about the occurrence later in the review.
The show was opened by The Gnat Display Team with their pair of Folland Gnat T.1s each resplendent in the markings of No. 4 Flight Training School and the Yellowjacks display team. The team fly a tight display routine with some great close flypasts and crossovers. It was great to see the display again since the 2015 tragedy where Kevin Whyman lost his life. The team still fly as a tribute to his memory.
Next up was the North American P-51D Mustang “Tall In The Saddle” from the Hangar 11 collection which was flown in excellent fashion by Peter Teichman. The fighter is now painted in the colours of the ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ of the 332nd Fighter Group.
The British Army dropped in over the sea with The Tigers Freefall Team of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. A slight snag also occurred where one of the parachutists had pull his reserve chute after the main chute had failed and proceeded to drift of land somewhere in the town.
More jet action came from the ‘JetPro’ pair with Jet Aerobatics’ BAC Jet Provost T.5 and the Jet Provost Display Team’s BAC Jet Provost T.3 which went onto perform a great formation display before showcasing some individual manoeuvres.
We were then treated to the only representation of modern military of the day in the form of the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 from No. 29(R) Squadron which provided an impressive and noisy display.
Next was another classic jet which has seen some military action, the BAC Strikemaster Mk. 82A which made good use of its smoke system to perform its tidy display. The jet is an attack development of the Jet Provost T.5 and is painted in the colours of the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force.
A sedate aerobatic display then arrived in the form of a vintage German trainer, the Heliopolis Gomhouria Mk. 6 which is an Egyptian built version of the Zlin Z.381 which itself is a Czech built version of the Bucker Bu-181 Bestmann.
The aerobatic theme continued with Lauren Richardson in her Pitts S-1S Special who performed a very dynamic display with some impressive rolls and loops with a great use of smoke.
Concluding the jet action of the day was the PZL-Mielec SBLim-2 from the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron which displayed brilliantly in the clear skies and showcasing the capability of this classic jet. It is painted as Yuri Gagarin’s personal aircraft is actually a Polish built version of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI ‘Midget’.
The Royal Air Force took centre stage again with the classic trio of the Avro Lancaster B.I, Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE. After several formation passes, each aircraft performed their own solo routines with the Lancaster receiving the most attention and even applause due to its long absence from the display circuit.
Next up was the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows with their nine BAe Hawk T.1As who arrived overhead before performing their typically excellent display consisting of the best of formation flying and aerobatic manoeuvres.
We then turned back time to some vintage aviation with a Boeing-Stearman N2S-4 Kaydet from TG Aviation which flew a series sedate passes.
The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar also provided a display with a pair of iconic warbirds consisting of the Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk. X and Supermarine Spitfire HF. IXE. The duo performed some graceful flypasts together before separating to fly their own individual routines.
One of the regular items on the display circuit this year was the RotorSport UK Calidus from Gyro Air Displays which put on an energetic display in the hand of Peter Davies.
We then had a different display with a trio of Druine D.31 Turbulents from The Tiger Club Turbulent Team with a series passes and flour bombing which was somewhat lost over the sea and lacked impacts. Unfortunately, upon departure from the area, one of the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch it in the sea where the aircraft flipped over. Nearby onlookers assisted with getting the pilot and aircraft onto the beach who has no serious injuries. The show took a pause whilst Terry Martin’s Westland Wasp HAS.1 marked where the aircraft had ditched whilst we waited for the emergency services, which arrived in the form of a McDonnell-Douglas MD.902 Explorer from the Kent Air Ambulance and an Agusta-Westland AW139 from Her Majesty’s Coastguard. Due to the incident the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s De Havilland DH.100 Vampire and the Fly Navy Heritage Trust’s De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 had to cancel their appearances
The show was able to continue with the remaining display acts once the emergency services had departed. Arriving over the sea was the Great War Display Team who brought over seven replica warbirds including a trio of RAF S.E.5A Replicas, a pair of Fokker Dr.1 Replicas, a Junkers CL.1 Replica and an RAF B.E.2C Replica. The team put on a recreation of aerial dogfighting that occurred during the First World War and was a highly entertaining spectacle.
As we approached the end of the show, Team Spirit took the penultimate display slot. The team consists of three colourful Vans RV-6s which put on a sedate display with some formation flypasts and simple aerobatics.
The shows finale featured one of the most popular airshow performers in the UK, the Breitling Wingwalkers. The pair of vintage Boeing-Stearman Kaydets as well as the glamorous ladies on the top wings put on a fantastic barnstorming routine with some excellent aerobatic manoeuvres and bought the show to a fitting conclusion.
The Herne Bay Airshow was a great success despite the incident with the Turbulents and featured a far more varied line up of flying displays than most seaside shows. The obvious highlights were provided by the Royal Air Force with The Red Arrows and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 as well as the return of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster B.I. The Breitling Wingwalkers and the Great War Display Team were also on top form with PZL-Mielec SBLim-2 of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron also worthy of mention. I certainly hope the show will return for the 2017 season as I plan to return if it does.
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