Centrepiece of the flying display was a commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. To open proceedings a formation of 4 Hawks from the RAF carried out a flypast.
Then the main event. There 3 stars of the show. Firstly the two surviving Battle of Britain veteran aircraft still flying.
BBMF Spitfire IIa P7350 flown by Sqn Ldr Ian Smith
The Vacher Hurricane I R4118 flown by Keith Dennison
From the “other side” came the EADS Bf109G-4 ‘Red 7’ flown (wonderfully) by Klaus Plasa
It was a real pleasure to see this rare aircraft in the UK. (more…)
“Before the blackness of their burst had thinned or fallen the hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man’s Land to begin the Battle of the Somme.”
(The Old Front Line by John Masefield)
At 7.30 on the morning of the 1st July 1916, 13 British and 11 French Divisions went over the top of their trenches to begin what became known as the Battle of The Somme, by that evening they had suffered 57,470 casualties of which 19,240 were killed.
Earlier this year (2010) along with 3 good friends I again made the short hop across the channel in mid July to pay my respects to some real Legends. This is the story of that visit.
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.
It was 9.30 in the morning on December 17th 2003, the 100th Anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. I had arrived at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden about 5 minutes beforehand. I had parked by car, grabbed my camera and was about to walk to the Restaurant for a cuppa after a long drive.
In front of Hangar 5, the Westland Lysander was being positioned ready for a photo session with a group of Soldiers seated in front of it for an official photograph. The security guard that was with them wasnt happy about me roaming around with a camera.
Then out of Hangar 6 next door came the 1912 Blackburn Monoplane being moved to allow other aircraft to be pushed out of the hangar.
The oldest flying British aircraft on the planet, on the 100th Anniversary or Powered Flight at the worlds best airshow location.
It doesn’t get better than that!