The Duxford Air Show – 7 September 2013

The IWM’s main airshow of the year tends to offer a mixed and wide-ranging selection of display acts and this year’s was no exception. The show suffered a few late cancellations through illness, and the weather could have been better but it was still an enjoyable event. The following is a pictorial representation of a few of the highlights:

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Flying Legends – IWM Duxford – 14 July 2013

After the incidents and loss of Big Beautiful Doll in 2011, last year’s Flying Legends was a somewhat quieter year. The 2013 event returned more to the heights of old, though tempered with the news that this would be Stephen Grey’s last appearance at the controls of one of his aircraft at what is The Fighter Collection’s own show – and world renowned for its unique format and content. Although we didn’t know it at the time it would also turn out to be the last chance for most people to see P-47 Thunderbolt ‘SNAFU’ in the air before her surprise return to the USA.

Instead of playing the part of the ‘joker’ before the Balbo finale, Stephen Grey opened the show in his Bearcat to the haunting Pink Floyd classic ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ – apparently a favourite track of the 75 year old TFC boss, and well suited to the powerful yet graceful demonstration. We can only guess at what the future holds for the TFC and Flying Legends, but hopefully son Nick will take the reigns.

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The show continued with The Bremont Horsemen flying close formation routines in two Mk I Spitfires and a V, in their style which doesn’t compare with the more dynamic displays that we are familiar with – but is still very easy on the eye as a show of grace rather than power.

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Further illustrations of the day’s displays:

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Flying Legends in 2014 is scheduled to take place on the 12 and 13 July, and it will be interesting to see how the show shapes up.

IWM Duxford Spring Air Show – Remembering the Mighty Eighth – 26 May 2013

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Duxford’s first show of 2013 commemorated the 70th anniversary of the arrival at the wartime Cambridgeshire airfield of the 78th Fighter Group of the US Army Air Force. Initially equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts and arriving in April 1943, the Group traded them for P-51 Mustangs in December 1944, and both types played a significant part in the commemorations – not just at the show but also as part of the following day’s flypasts over other significant airfields with links to the USAAF and also the Cambridge American Cemetery at Madingley – see Madingley flypast .

As part of the ‘Eagle Squadron’ P-47 ‘Snafu’ and P-51 ‘Princess Elizabeth’ were joined by a Hurricane and Spitfire representing aircraft flown by volunteer US pilots at a time before their home country had joined the battle, and these squadrons flew under that title. Flying as a four-ship, with B-17 ‘Sally B’, with the Red Arrows and in pairs, the ‘Eagle Squadron’ was one of the most eagerly anticipated display acts of recent years – and they didn’t fail to deliver. Led by British pilot Paul Bonhomme in the Hurricane, the remaining members of the quartet were the three pilots that make up the ‘Bremont Horsemen Flight Team’ – Dan Friedkin (Spitfire), Ed Shipley (Mustang) and Steve Hinton (Thunderbolt). The trio normally fly Mustangs and have been seen before at Duxford doing so in a mix of UK-based P-51s and specially imported US-based airframes.

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The US theme ran through the whole show both in the air and on the ground. ‘The Three Belles’ delighted the crowds on the ground:

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whilst Golden Apple Operation’s F-86A Sabre made a welcome return after its engine issues:

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US warbirds included a couple of P-40s (Pearl Harbor survivor P-40B illustrated), TF-51D Mustang ‘Miss Velma’ (a two-seater which took ‘Bud’ Anderson aloft before the display started and again on the Monday commemorations) two DC-3s, a Harvard pair and two L-4 Cubs.

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Other warbird content included the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane, Westland Lysander and the pairs display of the ‘Grace Spitfire’ with ARCo’s Buchon.

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Civilian teams gave added colour to the show with the Trig Aerobatic Team, RV8tors and the solo Breitling Stearman wingwalker making good use of the sunny conditions.

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The focus of the event was quite rightly aimed at the historics, but the RAF did send the display Tucano in its homage scheme:

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Due to delays the Tucano pilot hadn’t received his display authorisation in time to take part in the show. The RAF did though make an impact in closing the show with the Red Arrows making their UK 2013 debut, and flying nine Hawks for the first time since the tragedies of 2011.

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Duxford’s first show of 2013 was an all-round success and heavily attended. Hopefully setting a trend for the rest of the year.

The next airshow at Duxford is the Flying Legends event over the weekend of 13 and 14 July.

With thanks to Esther Blaine and the IWM staff.

‘Eagle Squadron’ honours the US fallen fighting from UK bases during WWII

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On Monday 27 May, B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and four fighters – ‘Eagle Squadron’ – carried out a commemorative flypast of East Anglian Second World War airfields to honour the American airmen who gave the ultimate sacrifice whilst operating from these British bases. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United States Army Air Force arriving at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, to join the fight against Germany. The USAAF began arriving in the UK in 1942, and continued to build a mighty force which played a large part in taking the battle to Germany, through D-Day and on towards victory in Europe – but paid a high price.

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Flying from Duxford airfield the formation flew over the Cambridge American Cemetery at Madingley, where a memorial ceremony was being held. 3,812 US airmen are buried at Madingley, and inscriptions remember a further 5,127 missing in action. It was a poignant and historic commemoration to the American airmen who lost their lives fighting for freedom from British shores. For 38 years, the UK’s last remaining airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft, Sally B, has been maintained and flown as a memorial to the 79,000 Allied airmen who lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War. See http://www.sallyb.org.uk/ for more information on Sally B. The B-17 is operated entirely from public donations and requires more help to continue flying.

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Sally B was joined by the ‘Eagle Squadron’; a Hurricane X flown by Paul Bonhomme, a Spitfire I flown by Dan Friedkin, a P-47 Thunderbolt flown by Steve Hinton and P-51C Mustang flown by Ed Shipley.

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Also included in the formation was TF-51D Mustang ‘Miss Velma’ flown by Pete Kynsey. Being a two-seat aircraft the TF-51D allowed for the inclusion of a very special passenger – United States Army Air Forces veteran Col. Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson.

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One of the airfields visited by the formation was the former RAF Leiston in Suffolk. ‘Bud’ flew his P-51 Mustang Old Crow with the 357th Fighter Group from this airfield.

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With thanks to Esther Blaine and the IWM staff.