Airshow Season 2016 Review

Another year and another airshow season over where I returned to my regular shows including the Abingdon Air & Country Show, Airbourne and the Royal International Air Tattoo. I also attended the Herne Bay Airshow for the first time and made more than one visit to the Shuttleworth Collection. There have been so many highlights at each show that I have composed a summary of each of them to give a little taste of the displays that were featured.

The first show I attended was the Abingdon Air & Country Show which had nice variety of air displays despite the changeable weather and the initial cancellations prior to the event. Making its first appearance at the show was the Bristol Blenheim Mk. I from the Aircraft Restoration Company and put on a graceful routine. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight also participated with a pair of iconic British fighters, the Supermarine Spitfire LF. XVIE and Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC. Another Duxford based warbird to take part was the amphibious Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A which performed an immaculate display. Aerobatics were also featured in the display with a solo Silence SA1100 Twisters from the Twisters Aerobatic Team and a dynamic demonstration by a Pitts S-1S Special in the hands Lauren Richardson. The show was closed by a series of helicopter displays starting with Terry Martin’s Westland Wasp HAS.1 and then a duet of army types featuring the Agusta-Bell Sioux AH Mk. 1 and Westland Scout AH Mk. 1 from the Army Historic Aircraft Flight.

The next show was the Season Premiere Airshow hosted at the Shuttleworth Collection which showcased a variety of aircraft in some excellent weather. Opening the show was Peter Teichman in his Curtiss P-40M Kittyhawk Mk. III from his Hangar 11 collection which put on a great routine. A familiar pair of aircraft also put on an entertaining demonstration of slow flying, the Shuttleworth Collection’s Westland Lysander Mk. IIIA which was making a welcome return to the air after last year’s absence and one of the final displays by Peter Holloway’s Fieseler Fi-156A-1 Storch before moving to new owners in Norway. The highlight of the show was the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows who put on a fantastic rolling display with their nine BAe Hawk T.1As despite an interruption by an intruding helicopter near the end of their routine. Next we saw a fourship of vintage training aircraft including the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth II, the BAe Systems Heritage Flight’s Blackburn B.2, Peter Holloway’s Miles M.14A Magister I and his recently acquired Ryan STA which put on a series of flypasts in formation and individually. The Shuttleworth Collection also hosts several classic fighters including the next trio which consisted of the Hawker Demon I from Demon Displays, the Collection’s Gloster Gladiator Mk. I and Hawker Heritage’s Hawker Hurricane Mk. I where they flew in formation before performing their own solo displays. We also saw a rare UK display by the Global Stars Aerobatic Team who put on a great display of unlimited aerobatics with their mixed variety of aircraft including an Extra EA-330LT, an Extra EA-330SC and a pair of Mudry CAP-232s. The show was bought to a close by a pair of twin engine warbirds, the BAe Systems Heritage Flight’s Avro Anson XIX which put on a series of flat passes before joining the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol Blenheim Mk. I in a formation flypast before the Blenheim put on an a very graceful display in the evening light.

The Royal International Air Tattoo had a very large and varied static display with several notable highlights. Two of the furthest travelled participants was an Airbus KC-30A from the Royal Australian Air Force and a Boeing 757-22QC of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The Royal Norwegian Air Force also provided a rare item with their Dassault Falcon 20ECM in a striking black scheme. The Royal Air Force of Oman also attended with a modern EADS-CASA C-295M transport which was also parked next to a BAC Strikemaster Mk. 82A from the North Wales Military Aviation Services, a former aircraft of the Omani forces. Canada made a welcome return to the show with one of their Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force. The stars of the static display included a pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs from the Hellenic Air Force and a Mil Mi-171Sh ‘Hip’ helicopter from the Croatian Air Force & Air Defence which was also used as a support aircraft for the Krila Oluje.

The Royal International Air Tattoo also showcased a wide variety of aircraft in the flying display including some rarities. There was a total of four individual displays by the Eurofighter Typhoon throughout each day with the FGR.4 being demonstrated by BAe Systems was by the far the best. The United States Air Force also returned to the show with the fantastic Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptor which performed a stunning routine. The stealth fighter also took part in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight alongside the Lockheed-Martin F-35A Lightning II on the Friday and Saturday while Sunday saw the Lightning fly with the North American P-51D Mustang “Miss Helen”. Croatia was the latest country to join the Air Tattoo and they provided their national team, the Krila Oluje which put on an immaculate display with their six Pilatus PC-9Ms. The Polish Air Force also returned with their highly entertaining Mikoyan MiG-29A ‘Fulcrum’ display which even featured a tail slide manoeuvre. The show also featured the Lockheed-Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon with a total of four separate displays throughout the day with the best performance being from the Turkish Air Force’s “C” model. One of the main highlights of the show was the UK debut of the Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II with its short take off, hovering and vertical landing capabilities as well as unique flypast with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows and a pair of Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s. The French Air Force once again provided the dynamic and noisy Ramex Delta tactical display with a pair of Dassault Mirage 2000Ns who performed their final UK display before disbanding.

I also attended a few shows by the seaside with first being Airbourne, Eastbourne International Airshow which was opened on the Saturday in fantastic fashion by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows with their nine BAe Hawk T.1As. The show also feature several new aerial acts appearing at Eastbourne for the first time including the North American-Rockwell OV-10B Bronco from the Bronco Demo Team as well as some aerial dogfighting from the Great War Display Team who appeared with eight warbirds replicas. There was a number of big bombers displaying over the sea with the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B” making a welcome return to Eastbourne as well as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster B.I returning to the air after a lengthy absence where it was joined by a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and a Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE. Further jet action was represented by the JetPro pair of the BAC Jet Provost T.5 and BAC Jet Provost T.3 as well as a spectacularly noisy display by the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which bought the show to a satisfying conclusion.

The second seaside show was the Herne Bay Airshow which boasted a wide variety of aircraft as well as some gorgeous weather. The show was opened by the two Folland Gnat T.1s from The Gnat Display Team performing a tight routine in memory of Kevin Whyman. This was shortly followed by the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which put on a typically dynamic and noisy display. There was also an aerobatic masterclass from the Pitts S-1S Special in the hands of Lauren Richardson which preceded more vintage jet action from the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s PZL-Mielec SBLim-2 which put on a fine performance. The Royal Air Force also provided more aerial delights in the form of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s classic trio of the Avro Lancaster B.I, Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC and Supermarine Spitfire LF. IXE which was followed swiftly by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. The show was bought to a close by the Breitling Wingwalkers with their barnstorming display.

The final show of the year was held at The Shuttleworth Collection in Old Warden for the Race Day Airshow which showcased the best in air racing. Opening the show was a trio of vintage gliders including a Slingsby T.6 Kite, the Shuttleworth Collection’s Slingsby T.6 Kirby Kite and Graham Saw’s Slingsby T.13 Petrel. This was followed by a highly dynamic display by Hangar 11’s North American P-51D Mustang “Tall In The Saddle” with Peter Teichman at the controls. The racing theme then really came into play with the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House” and David Beale’s Percival E.2H Mew Gull Replica flying in formation before putting on solo routines. Following this was the rare sight of three Chilton D.W.1s flying together for the first time before making way to a spectacular air race which featured David Beale’s Mew Gull, Pete Kynsey’s LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina”, Catch 22 Racing’s Taylor JT-2 Titch, Nigel Pickard’s Spartan 7W Executive and Hawker Heritage’s Hawker Hurricane Mk. I. Aircraft of the First World War were represented by the Shuttleworth Collection’s RAF S.E.5A and a privately owned Sopwith Dove Replica, types which were used as sports planes. There was also a tribute to the MacRobertson Air Race with a series of flypasts by the De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House”, a De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide, the Shuttleworth Collection’s Desoutter I, a Miles M.3A Falcon Major, Peter Holloway’s Miles M.14A Magister I and a De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth before the Comet put on another solo display in the evening light.

The 2016 season was full of unique and exciting displays and formations and I hope there is even more to look forward to in 2017.

For more photos from the 2016 season you can check out the albums on Flickr

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