2005 Edition

 

 

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Abingdon's Alive!

Abingdon All Stars
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The beginning of May means it's time to dust off the scanners and camera as the UK airshow season begins again. With Duxford once again celebrating another important date and holding it's show later than usual it was once again left to Abingdon and Old Warden to host the first two shows of the year. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK was at sun drenched Abingdon. All Photography copyright Author.

Abingdon International
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Reality Check!
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In the Mix!
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The Abingdon Fayre is a curious event combining aspects of a small country show with that of a fairly large fly-in and flying display on an active Airfield. Abingdon Airfield was once a busy RAF base once home to many RAF transports and later was a large maintenance unit for the RAF's Hawk and Jaguar fleets. Since becoming surplus to RAF requirements and closure in 1992, the airfield has now become home to Dalton Barracks. The Barracks house 2 Close Support and 4 General Support Regiments of the Royal Logistics Corps and 1,200 personnel. The Airfield itself is known as Abingdon Airfield and remains under the control of the MoD. The Airfield remains active supporting RAF Benson's fleet of Pumas and Merlins as well as other types under the control of Joint Helicopter Command. It's also often used for Paratraining and often sees visits from Lyneham's Hercules fleet as well as private Let L-140 aircraft. Also resident at Abingdon are 612 Voluteer Gliding School. 612 VGS provide gligin training to the Air Cadets and Combined Cadet Force units with their fleet of Grob Vigilant T1 motor gliders. An example of the type opened the afternoon flying display - something of rareity as I can't recall seeing the type displayed before.

Prior to the main flying display in the afternoon, there was a sizable fly-in. Weather across the UK was much more favourable this year which meant Abingdon enjoyed a bumper list of participation. Perhaps the star of the line up was the Polish Navy PZL M-28 1R Bryza from 30 Naval Air Squadron based at Gyndia, Poland. With the bigger shows currently struggling for interesting participation, this was something of a coup for the volounteers at Abingdon and was very welcome. Another star of the Fly in was the beautiful De Havilland Dragon resplensant in it's Railway Air Services colours. Delta Jet's put in a spirited appearance too with it's pair of BAC Jet Provost T5 and Hawker Hunter T7A WV318. It had been hoped for the appearance of the "new" Blue Diamonds schemed Hunter WV372 but it was not to be.

Prior to the flying display, the Ripmax display team gave two demonstration of large scale radio controlled model aircraft - a standard pistion powered Extra 300 and a remarkable jet powered F-15 Eagle. From a distance these do genuinely look like the real thing and full credit to the "pilots" who flew the aircraft in such a realistic and dramatic fashion.

Of course, the main event was the flying display in the afternoon. It's grouwn considerably over the years and 2005 boasted a very strong contingent from the armed forces as well as a smattering of aerobatics and warbirds. After the show opening by 612 VGS the display moved right up the perfomance envelope to the 100sqn Hawk T1 demo again flown by Dave Harvey. It should become quite easy to distinguish between the 100sqn and 208sqn demos as the former will carry it's Sindwinder rails where possible while the latter has a new painted scheme celebrating it's Welsh base.

Could We Have Our Wheel Back?

The display at Abingdon by the RAF Chinook HC2 has entered airshow folklore very early in the season! The Chinook was being put through it's paces by Flt Lt Carl Zarecky in fine fashion and was undoubtely one of the highlights of the day. Unfortunatly when it came to one of the Chinook's party pieces the wheelie landing and reverse take off the starboard rear wheel came off on the runway! The crew did a good job in aborting their display and checking over the Chinook before diverting to Odiham (the Chinook's home base) where the appropriate kit for dealing for such an incident and a safelanding was made.  The wheel itself was rescued by 28(AC) sqn's John Deere Utliity vehicle and the runway was subjected to an inspection before being returned to operations.

Abingdon's display saw quite a bit in the way of aerobatic displays by two of the definitive specialist aerobatic types - the Pitts S1 Special and the Walter Extra EA300S. Flying the former was Pete Metcalfe who flew down from Stockon on Tees for the event - quite a trip in a small aircraft like the Pitts Special which isn't known for it's range. Pete's display is very much the classic Pitts display which flick rolls and plenty of vertical manuoevres in the strikingly painted Pitts which used to flown by Denny Dobson. Denny was alo at the show flying perhaps what has become the spiritual successor to the Pitts - the Extra 300. Denny's display including passing under 10 ribbon limbos as well as cutting all 10 ribbons. Again this was another first for Abingdon as it was the first time such a display had been carried out in front of a public audience.

Two ex military trainer types were also included in the flying display. First of these to display was John Fairey in Alan House's Percival Provost T1 resplendant in the silver and yellow Training Command colours of the post war era. The display showed off to full effect the aerobatic qualities of the types to great effect against the blue skies over Abingdon. Neil Watling made his first ever public display in the former Royal Hong Kong Auxiiary Air Force T-67M Firefly. Being his first display, the limits on his display meant that he was further away for quite a few of the aerobatics that he put on although it is good to see such as strikeingly painted aircraft on the display circuit.

More potent historic types came in the form of Peter Teichmann's P-51D Mustang Jumpin' Jaques and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Avro Lancaster B1 both giving polished routines.

In keeping with Abingdon's new role as a training site for Joint Helicopter Command, it was fitting to see a number of military helicopter demos at Abingdon. The Chinook HC2 display has entered airshow folklore for the incident in the middle of it's display (see separate panel) and it was joined by another RAF types, the Westland Merlin HC3 which is making a welcome comeback to the circuit following a couple of very busy years of the type. The display even started with some display smoke and including the deployment of a John Deere utility vehicle!!! The Royal Navy returned once again with a solo display by the Westland Lynx HMA8 which gave a sterling performance.

However, a big highlight of the display was the first and probably last display by a SEPECAT Jaguar GR3A at Abingdon Fayre. In what is almost certainly the swansong year of the solo Jaguar display, it was a highly approprate venue for the aircraft in the hands of Flt Lt Derek Sington as Abingdon used to be home to the Jaguar Maintenence Unit and was often seen working the circuit over the airfield on test flights.

Abingdon Fayre was once again a highly enjoyble start to the 2005 airshow season. Abingdon not only provides a show that caters for all tastes from the flying right through to the arena events but it is also an event of high quality. As a result Abingdon has earned well deserved recognition amongst air enthusiasts and the public alike which would have been possible without the efforts of Neil Porter and his volunteer team.

A Selection of A4 and A3 Prints, as well as Calendars, Placemat and Mousemat featuring photographs from this show can be purchased from the Flightline UK Shop.

 copyright Flightline UK 2005