Great War Display Team at the Sonisphere Rock Festival – Knebworth – 5 July 2014

One of the most unique events commemorating the centenary of the beginning of the First World War took place in the grounds of Knebworth House on 5 July as part of the Sonisphere rock festival. As a prelude to Iron Maiden’s set, and incredibly involving the band’s lead singer Bruce Dickinson piloting his Fokker Dr.I Triplane, nine reproduction British and German First World War fighters displayed in a dogfight over the estate. Their appearance was introduced by a short film played on the big screens of the aircraft apparently starting up and departing their airfield bound for Knebworth and backed by the band’s song titled Paschendale – itself an epic track based around that WWI battle.

Bruce Dickinson in the cockpit of Avro Vulcan XL426 at Southend Airport

Bruce Dickinson in the cockpit of Avro Vulcan XL426 at Southend Airport

Dickinson is an experienced pilot and bought the Fokker Triplane earlier in the year, following which he joined the team which displays at airshows and in commemorations, and who are particularly busy in this centenary year. The aircraft operated for the event from Henlow and after returning from Knebworth Dickinson journeyed back to Sonisphere by road to take to the stage with Iron Maiden as the headline act for that night of the three day festival.

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The tens of thousands of heavy metal fans who had gathered early by the main stage area especially for the display – supported by Maiden’s Trooper beer brand and titled ‘Fokkers at 6 o’clock’ – were clearly appreciative of the unique occasion, especially when commentator Stephen Slater highlighted Dickinson’s parts in the complex routine!

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South Essex Armed Forces Day Event – Barleylands Farm – 22 June 2014

Following on from the success of the 2013 event at Rayleigh the South Essex AFD team went on to organise a larger such show in grounds of Barleylands Farm near Billericay, Essex. The surrounding open fields allowed for full air displays rather than the previous flypasts, and these included a full nine aircraft appearance by the Great War Display Team – fittingly operating from the WWI aerodrome of Stow Maries – and the first three-ship display by the Gnats Display Team with yellow schemed G-MOUR as the latest addition.

Ground attractions included the IMPS motorcycle team, Blue Falcons gymnasts, army demonstrations, dog agility, cadet bands and singers (Charlotte Meldrum pictured) and comedians. The following is a photographic round-up of the 2014 event, which will hopefully be repeated in years to come.