Duxford knows its onions – a photoblog

Have you heard the one about the airshow without a cloud in the sky? Unusually for the UK and especially in October the rarely seen phenomenon of a cloudless day was seen in the skies over Cambridgeshire on Sunday the 10th October.

The Met men had predicted a near perfect day for the day before, they got that wrong as usual. With this in mind, the weather forecast of a near perfect day was looking somewhat dubious as I drove past the Cardington Airship hangars on the way to Duxford. At least I think I did, they may have been demolished for all I could tell such was the low cloud base. By the time I reached Madingley however as if by magic it was a glorious morning.

The ideal location for photographs comes at a price at Duxford, a long walk and a field full of piles of rotten onions. That said this was more than made up for by the spectacularly good Chocolate Cake on sale at Duxford Primary School where I parked. Its a really nice facility and a triumph of free enterprise. For the record, they offer parking for the day for a fee but they dont condone leaving their grounds. However they dont stop you. It’s all run by the PTA and all monies raised go back into providing facilities for the school. I’ll admit you aren’t paying for the airshow, but you are putting something directly back into the community it affects. And in any case, if the school didnt offer the facility its doubtful that I would have driven halfway across the country to get to the show.

October shows at Duxford can sometime be a bit of a Curates Egg, this one was quite good. In fact just before the flying proper started it produced one of the highlights of my airshow year. Without too much pre-show fanfare, indeed it has been flying for just less than a week, the RNHF Swordfish LS326 arrived. Its first airshow for two years (and that was a one off) and its first landaway in over 10 years. It didnt display and left just before the Naval Flypasy (more of this later) but it was wonderful to see. Heres hoping that all the hard work by the Engineers at the RNHF pays off and she stays trouble-free.

It was happy birthday to the B-17 SallyB. The big day was commemorated with a flypast by the girl herself accompanied by some Little Friends, the USAF from RAF Lakenheath joined in as well with 2 F-15C Eagles. If the idea was to have the Eagles fly over at the same time as the Warbirds, it didnt quite go to plan. But they were welcome nonetheless.

Next up a training theme. Starting with America, the plan was 2 T-6s and a PT-17 Kaydet would display. Sadly one T-6 had a mag drop issue so we were down an aircraft. It didnt stop some superb flying.

Next up the modern-day RAF with the Hawk role demo. Not sure what role it was demo-ing but, after the problems with this years Hawk display its very welcome.

The Tucano, painted in Battle of Britain colours to commemorate its 70th Anniversary. Does that make its a Spitcano or Tucfire?

Two T-28 Fennecs, both in French colours.

Its been a good few years since the “land a Cub on a truck” trick has been seen at UK airshows, thanks to the superb Brendan O’Brien its back.

Originally the Royal Navy flypast was supposed to be 2 Sea Furys and a Sea Hawk, the last minute substitution of the Kennet Aviation Seafire didnt spoil things one bit. We hopefully will have plenty of opportunity to see the new RNHF Sea Fury next season.

While the navy aircraft went away and formed up, we were treated to one of (if not the) last display by the Hurricane PZ865 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in its current colours. Its in a night intruder scheme which contrasted with the bright October day.

The Navy returned. While the Seafire departed after the flypast the Sea Hawk and Sea Fury flew solo displays

Its been over 30 years since a 4 ship Pitts Special display Team flew in the UK. This was a tribute to the heady days of the Rothmans Display team

The Plane Sailing Catalina

We were treated to a rare display from an Army Air Corps AH64 Apache giving a demonstration of exactly what Terry Taliban doesnt want to see. Yep it was looooow!

Next up was a very pleasant surprise, two C-47 Dakotas flew a superb display belaying their size.

For the more observant among you, one of the Dakotas is regularly seen on Top Gear when the track is being used.

The Red Wings are another blast from the past, echoing the Skyhawk/Unipart display team of the 1980s flying 2 Fournier RF4 aircraft.

The penultimate display of the year was flown by Stu Goldspink in the TFC Bearcat. The power of the aircraft was used to great effect with a high power looping display.

The season was rounded off by Golden Apples’ F-86A Sabre. The aircraft is still for sale and although we seem to say it every year, this could have been its last display in the UK. But until that happens lets enjoy what we have.

And thats the season over.

I dont think I’ll miss the onions though.

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