Shuttleworth’s Season Premiere – Old Warden – 8 May 2016

Shuttleworth’s opening show of 2016 offered the chance to confirm how the new display distances would effect the air displays held at this small venue – one which has become renowned for its photographic qualities. Clearly it wouldn’t be the same, but didn’t deserve much of the post-event criticism leveled at it. Like most things in life, it’s what you make of it – so here’s my glass-half-full offering from the day:

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Abingdon Air & Country Show – Dalton Barracks – 1 May 2016

The traditional opening airshow of the season at the former RAF airfield suffered a number of pre-event cancellations, but as always delivered a highly entertaining program of flying and ground activities. The unexpected highlights for many were the vintage helicopters, with the Westland Wasp in particular proving to be very agile and a type rarely seen displaying. The following images hopefully illustrate a little of what was on offer to the visiting public.

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Vintage Flying Event – Stow Maries – 15 May 2016

An airshow and fly-in took place at Stow Maries Aerodrome – the most original World War One aerodrome still in existence. The aerodrome opened in 1916 as one of three locally with the aim of protecting London from attack by Zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers. When closed in 1919 after a short period of service the land was returned to agricultural use, but many of the buildings have remained untouched into their centenary. Work has taken place over recent years to restore the structures and produce a museum site illustrating the aerodrome’s wartime existence. A number of replica Great War aircraft are now based here and one of those, a BE2, performed at the event, a type that served here one hundred years ago. The weekend’s weather was changeable but mostly fine, allowing for a large turn-out of visiting light aircraft and a small display programme.

For further events throughout the year visit http://www.stowmaries.org.uk/news/events for details.

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The Goodwood Revival – The Flying – 11-13 September 2015

In a long overdue catch-up from this wonderful event, the below is a collection of images from the flying sequences during the Goodwood Revival, plus a couple of other movements, and passenger flights by the Boultbee Academy’s two-seat Spitfires. The weather was mixed over the three days, and was sadly at its worst for the finale – the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Due to the layout of the location no displays take place as such, more a number of flypasts as the aircraft make wide circuits before dipping down towards the runway in front of the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation enclosure.

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Red Bull Air Race – Ascot Racecourse – 14-16 August 2015

The Friday of the event didn’t bode well for the weekend’s racing with the weather curtailing all chances of practice runs for the pilots, and indeed threatening their chances at even arriving at the location. A small break in the rain and low cloud did finally allow for them to land and for a single run through the course by Mike Mangold in one of the the Challenger aircraft, but to all intents and purposes the day was a wash out.

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Thankfully the weekend did improve, and the Saturday saw the teams practice in the morning and then carry out their qualifying runs.

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With Bonhomme taking ‘pole’ the scene was set for an exciting Sunday of racing, with hopes high for a home win.

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Red Bull:’

Britain’s Paul Bonhomme was crowned the winner of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop at the famous Ascot Racecourse, flying brilliantly under pressure in the world’s fastest motorsport series. The victory was Bonhomme’s third this season and second straight win at Ascot to the delight of more than 40,000 home fans.

Bonhomme’s final run was flawless and he stopped the clock in 1:06.416 seconds. Australia’s Matt Hall took second place in a time of 1:09.024 while Yoshihide Muroya got his first podium of the season with third.

With the hard-fought victory in the Final 4, Bonhomme picked up 12 points to widen his lead at the top of the overall standings to eight points (46) ahead of Hall (38 points) in second going into the final three races. Reigning World Champion Nigel Lamb of Britain, who last year finished second at the race over the historic Ascot Racecourse, finished back in 5th place, a result that destroyed his chances of defending his title.

“It was a hard day at the office but today was great fun – I enjoyed that,” said Bonhomme after hitting speeds of near 370kph on the track that featured a standing start in front of the grandstands. “All I can say is this was due to teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I’m only the driver. I just point the plane in the right direction.”

It was the second time the Red Bull Air Race was staged in Ascot, just west of London, that has quickly become one of the most attractive racing locations on the calendar and a favourite with the pilots.

Austria’s Hannes Arch, who struggled in the training session and was last in Qualifying on Saturday, finished a disappointing eighth after winning the last two races in Budapest and Rovinj, Croatia. Arch had a great run in the Round of 12, just beating Bonhomme. But Bonhomme was the “fastest loser” and advanced to the Round of 8. Arch was unable to get his engine started before the Round of 8 and was forced to retire. “It’s frustrating if you can’t race but that’s life,” said Arch, who slipped to third overall with 30 points.’

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Paul Bonhomme went on to win the 2015 title, before announcing his retirement from the sport.

Duxford Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Airshow – 20 September 2015

There have been a number of outstanding moments commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of ‘The Few’, and one of those was the Spitfire formation and tail-chase at IWM Duxford’s September show. The following hopefully illustrates that, plus a number of the other display acts.

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Little Gransden Air & Car Show – 30 August 2015

As so often in the past, the 2015 running of the Children in Need charity show was unfairly hit by bad weather, with a portion of the show lost to rain and low cloud. It also suffered a number of cancellations, including a final chance to see Vulcan XH558 in this picturesque setting. Even so, the small team managed to serve up a highly enjoyable show raising welcome funds for Pudsey.

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