Duxford Air Festival – Sunday 28 May 2017

The first airshow of the year at IWM Duxford offered a very varied and full flying programme spanning from Great War to present day military machinery, with much in between. Undoubted highlight was the Rafale of the Armee de l’air which outshone the RAF’s Typhoon, though the latter is still a powerful routine. There was a distinct lack of warbirds for a Duxford show, but that made for a more varied event. The Sea Vixen had displayed on the Saturday but suffered a wheels-up landing back at base after a hydraulic failure, and the MiG-15 was scrubbed at the end of the show.

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Abingdon Air & Country Show – Dalton Barracks – 14 May 2017

The airshow at the former RAF airfield suffered a number of pre-event cancellations and periods of bad weather – despite being moved a couple of weeks further into the year in an attempt to avoid those incidents from which it had previously suffered.  As always though, Neil Porter and his small team delivered a highly entertaining program of flying and ground activities, with revised regulations necessitating a complete re-design of the public access and viewing areas. One of the Twister team experienced an engine failure resulting in a heavy emergency landing and injuries to the pilot, reported to be relatively minor. The following images hopefully illustrate a little of what was on offer to the visiting public.

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Little Gransden Air & Car Show – Beds, UK – 28 August 2016

Held at the lovely little airfield not far from Cambridge, the annual Little Gransden Air & Car Show raises welcome funds for the BBC’s Children in Need charity. The event suffered from changeable and sometimes extreme weather which caused a few scheduling issues, but as ever the public enjoyed a highly entertaining show which was well attended. A number of World War Two aircraft displayed as did various aerobatic, jet and training machines. Dennis Neville’s Flying Circus provided old ‘Barnstorming’ style antics – flying under a limbo pole, taking penalties against a goalkeeper and bursting balloons with their propellers. The Spitfire display which opened the show was dedicated to the late Terry Wogan.

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Great War Aerodrome Centenary Show – Stow Maries, Essex – 18 September 2016

An airshow and fly-in took place at Stow Maries Aerodrome to mark its centenary. It is the most original World War One aerodrome still in existence, and was opened in September 1916 with the aim of protecting London from attack by Zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers. Closed in 1919, the land was returned to agricultural use but many of the airfield’s buildings have remained untouched and are now being preserved and restored. A number of replica Great War aircraft are now based at Stow Maries, and a BE2 performed at the event, a type that served there one hundred years ago. A Sopwith Snipe illustrated the evolution of Great War aviation, with its more robust build and armament. The ever popular Turbulent Display Team performed their ‘barnstorming’ acts, including accurate flour-bombing – as witnessed by the condition of their target ‘Chateau le Turbs’!

When flying had finished for the day the airside gate was opened to allow the public the welcome opportunity to get a closer look at the aircraft.

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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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