Features

Published on May 30th, 2018 | by FII Reader

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Duxford Air Festival 2018

Duxford’s Air Festival is the first of three major aerial events to be held at the glorious airfield at the former RAF base at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. Held over the traditional late May Bank holiday weekend of 26th & 27th May 2018 your reviewer attended on the Saturday. The weather in the early morning was foggy and overcast, but gradually the sun shone, leaving a very hazy afternoon making challenging photography conditions as you shoot into the light for most of the display.

The Imperial War Museum (IWM) Duxford is Britain’s best-preserved Second World War airfield, with a fascinating history that dates back to the First World War. Historic aircraft can regularly be seen taking to the skies from Duxford’s wartime airfield. Duxford has been witness to world-changing events over the past 100 years where ordinary people have had extraordinary experiences. Exploring state of the art exhibition halls and historic buildings, visitors walk in the footsteps of the men and women who served at RAF Duxford. Through the powerful stories of the men and women involved and the rich displays of aircraft, Duxford tells the story of the impact of aviation on the nature of war and on people’s lives.

The flying display started at 1300 hrs with the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, a former Duxford resident with The Fighter Collection (TFC) ‘No Guts No Glory’ and has recently returned from the United States where it was based since 2007. Now in the hands of Air Leasing at Sywell Aerodrome, the aircraft carries the colours of 48th Fighter Groups 492nd Fighter Squadron ‘Nellie’. It was great to see the ‘Jug’ back in the skies of the UK and is a welcome return to the circuit in Europe giving a spirited and well flown routine.

Some of the flying highlights included:

  • AeroSuperBatics Flying Circus (formerly the Breitling Wingwalkers), with a new scheme and two new wingwalkers for the 2018 season, Martyn Carrington & David Barrell gave their usual display routine with flare, panache and a nod to the heyday of classic barnstorming of the roaring twenties.
  • The seven ship North American T-6 Harvard routine was a very well executed display and with the sight and sound of the radial engines giving that effective rasp as the props went supersonic reverberating around the airfield.
  • The Global Stars Team, a mix of CAP232 & Extra aerobatic aircraft presented a very well thought out, award winning routine with some manoeuvres that are unique to this 4-Ship display. This was definitely one of the highlights and one that kept the display tight to the crowd line with effective use of the smoke systems.
  • 46 Aviations Farner Werke (F+W) Schlepp C-3605 was displayed by Emiliano Del Buono a highly impressive and captivating display in this highly manoeuvrable aircraft. This aircraft is based in the Swiss town of Sion along with a collection of Warbirds, Aerobatic and Wingwalking types.
  • The Bremont Great War Display Team displayed with pyrotechnics and seven dog-fighting aircraft, evoking memories of the Great War. In this, the 100th Anniversary year of the end of the First World War the last post sounded at the end of the display completing a very emotive part of the flying display.
  • Many warbirds graced the skies of Duxford throughout the afternoon including the heavies B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B and Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina from Plane Sailing.

The penultimate display came from the French Air Force, Armée de l’Air, who have been a regular supporter to the show over the years (with no less than three display acts in total over the Air Festival weekend). The Dassault Rafale C was the only jet display on the Saturday and gave a loud, lively and thundering display with full afterburners.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a N3200 flown by John Romain flew an evocative and memorable solo display as the airfield fell silent the distinctive elliptical wing Spitfire and sound of the Merlin engine fittingly closed the show. Resplendent in its 19 Squadron markings this airframe had joined RAF Duxford in April 1940 and is now based and owned by the IWM at Duxford and was truly a historic aircraft from World War II.

There was a good mix of aircraft that were well presented from warbirds to Aerobatic displays and extended flying time from previous years. Duxford has a unique atmosphere that hasn’t been lost in these times of tighter regulation and rising costs. A visit to an event is highly recommended for the first timer or even the second timer. With so much on offer to see and do to keep the family entertained this show is an all-round event to keep the kids and the bigger kids happy.

Duxford in a Day from Dublin: If you’re willing to travel to Duxford for a one day round trip from Dublin than it is possible allowing almost 20 hours in the day. Taking an early flight to Stanstead Airport then followed by a twenty minute train ride to Whittlesford Parkway through the picturesque Essex countryside. From there, it’s a twenty/twenty-five minute walk to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford and then a return late in the evening. A long day, but definitely worth a visit to this unique site. The following events for 2018 include:

Flying Legends 14th & 15th July 2018

The Flying Legends Air Show is organised and produced by The Fighter Collection. This world-famous air show combines flying displays of remarkable historic aircraft with engaging nostalgic activities to create an authentic 1940s atmosphere at IWM Duxford’s wartime airfield. Rare aircraft travel across the globe to take part in the Flying Legends Air Show, performing exceptional aerial spectacles. At Flying Legends 2018 the Flying Bulls will present a five-ship formation for the first time in the UK, featuring two Alpha Jets, a B-25J Mitchell, Goodyear Corsair and P-38 Lightning. The world-renowned balbo, a massed-formation flying display, provides a remarkable finale to the air show. In 2018, there will be two vintage villages at the Flying Legends Air Show, offering a wide range of nostalgic entertainment.

Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show 22nd & 23rd September 2018

The Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show brings to life Duxford’s finest hour as an important Second World War fighter station defending Great Britain from aerial attack in 1940. The roar of Spitfires and Hurricanes over Duxford’s historic airfield make this a hugely engaging historic experience and a great day out for 2018. The Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show is an official partner of RAF 100, commemorating the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force. The flying display will showcase not only the famous historic aircraft of the RAF but will also present its modern capabilities with contemporary aircraft in service today.

Thanks must go to Esther Blaine, Communications Manager and her team at Duxford for all their support, warm welcome and help on the Saturday of the show.

Thanks also to Angelo Cunningham for an impromptu tour around the PBY Catalina at the close of the show which was a nice touch to end an all-round enjoyable day.

Display Aircraft                                                                                                                              Operator

Boeing Stearman (WingWalkers) x2                                                             AeroSuperBatcis

CAP232/Extra 330S/Extra 300L/Extra 330SC                                          Global Stars Team

Pitts S-1D Special x2                                                                                          TRIG Aerobatic Team

Farner Werke (F+W) Schlepp C-3605                                                           46 Aviation

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia                                                                              Imperial War Museum/Aircraft Restoration Co

B-17G Flying Fortress                                                                                         Sally B

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina                                                                         Plane Sailing

De Havilland Tiger Moth x 9 Formation Team                                             Tiger 9

De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk x4                                                                  Private

Avro 504K                                                                                                              Great War Display Team

Fokker Dr1 X2                                                                                                        Great War Display Team

Junkers CL1 X2                                                                                                      Great War Display Team

RAF SE5a x2                                                                                                           Great War Display Team

RAF BE2c                                                                                                                Great War Display Team

Sopwith Triplane                                                                                                   Great War Display Team

Goodyear FG-1D Corsair                                                                                      Fighter Collection

Grumman FM2 Wildcat                                                                                       Fighter Collection

Hawker Sea Fury T-20                                                                                          Fighter Collection

Hawker Fury FB11                                                                                                  Fighter Collection

Noorduyn Mk.IIb Harvard                                                                                   Fighter Collection

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              T6 Harvard Aviation

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              Richie Piper

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              Air Leasing

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              Mark Leavy

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              Aircraft Restoration Company

North American T-6 Harvard                                                                              Classic Wings

North American T-28 Trojan                                                                               G-TROY

Douglas C-47 Skytrain                                                                                           Percival Aviation

Hawker Sea Fury T-20                                                                                          Royal Navy Historic Flight

Fairey Swordfish Mk I                                                                                           Royal Navy Historic Flight

Boeing Chinook HC6/6A (Saturday only)                                                         Royal Air Force

Patrouille de France Alpha Jet x8 (Sunday only)                                             French Air Force

Dassault Rafale                                                                                                        French Air Force

Equipe de Voltige Extra 330SC                                                                             French Air Force

P-47 Thunderbolt ‘Nellie’                                                                                       Fighter Aviation Engineering Ltd

Words and photos by Jason Phelan

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