2005 Edition

 

 

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American Heavy Weights
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Best of Britishs
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Biplanes
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Naval Muscle Power
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All American Gladiators
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London Flypast and New Visitors
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The  Cats
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Hurricanes
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Eastern Front
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Class
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Mustang Stampede
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The Spitfires
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Spitfire Masterclass
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The Stuff of Legends

A view of Saturday's Balbo finale

Every year in mid July, something very special happens - Flying Legends. Not only a meeting of flamous aircraft, but also of the legends that flew the aircraft too.  Regarded by many including highly respected american display pilots as the best warbird show in the world, Legends has a faithful following of pilots, veterans and public alike. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of Author.

The Flying Legends Airshow 2005 took place against a difficult backdrop of the London Terrorist attacks in early July. With the overall message of "business as usual" from London, Flying Legends went ahead pretty much as usual. For the Sunday of the show, Duxford was the lauching airfield for the VE Day flypast over London which again went ahead as planned. As a result of all this, the show did have a stronger security presence to it. Many of the aircraft involved in the flypast did not take part in the main display and were strictly out of bounds come Sunday morning. As a result of the extra aircraft the flightline was truly a mammoth affair this year stretching all the way from the AirSpace hanger right down past the American Air Museum hanger double parked in places.

The show opened on both days with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who unusally operated from Duxford allowing the crowd to have a good up close look at the Dakota C3, Spitfire IIa and Lancaster B1. Unusually, both Hurrricane IIc aircraft were present due to the flypast. PZ865 was due to fly the displays and participate in the flypast but went unservicable just before Saturday's display with fluctuating oil pressures. The flypast was clearly too important an occasion to be without a Hurricane and there for Sunday's crowd were treated to an appearance by the "pheonix" - LF363 fresh from restoration from last years landing accident at Duxford.

TFC's New Kid on the Block

It seems that each year we are treated to a brand new shape in the skies courtesy of the Fighter Collection. This year saw the debut of the Curtis Hawk 75A-1 which already seems to be new favourite for Stephen Grey. It is infact a very important aircraft. This is the only surviving airworthy example of a L'armee de l'air aircraft that fought in WW2 in french colours. As well as it's own solo display it was used by Stephen Grey in his Joker display as the Balbo finales formed up. It was alos apparent from Bernard Chabbert's commentary the high regard for TFC a nd Hawk has in French eyes.

Joining Sean Maffet in the commentary box this year once again was Bernard Chabbert, a very well known and respect french airshow commentator. Bernard owns and flies his own small fleet of historic types one of which is the rare Lockheed 12, forerunner of the Hudson. Chabbert's Lockheed joined Air Atlantique's own Anson T21 for the opening tablaeu of the show, the light transports. In Sunday's flypast Shuttleworth's Avro 19 Anson joined the pair as part of a coastal command themed formation.

The massed Spitfires are always a firm favourite at Legends and this year, EIGHT spitfires took part in a mix of formation and tailchase displays. As ever, they were divided by the engine that powered them. The merlin engined examples were lead by Cliff Spink in Spitfire XVI TD248 joined by OFMC's Spitfire LFIXb MH434, HAC's Spitfire Vb and the Aerial Museum's Spitfire FVIII MV154. The Griffon tailchase saw Historic Flying's FRXVIII SM845 and XIV RN201 joined by Rolls Royce's PRXIX PS853 and Corsair Warbird's PR19 PS890. The latter is quite a bit different from the rest sporting a Griffon direct from a Shackleton and retaining the contra rotating propellors. Not only does this change a the appearance by alsomean the aircraft is better balanced on take off with little swing and sports an impressive steep climb too! The jury is still out on whether this is a good thing or not!  Saturday's show saw an extra treat as the legendary Ray Hanna gave his masterful solo display of MH434 after the rest of the Spitfires had landed. The Spitfire's companion in the Battle of Britain was also not forgetton with TFC's Hurricane IV and RACo's Hurricane XII in the air while Peter Vacher's Hurricane I was on static display.

Swedish Star

Perhaps the biggest star of the show this year was the SAAB B17A for the Swedish Air Force Museum. The B17A is a dive bomber and was the first indeginous military aircraft to enter service with the Swedish Air Force. The aircraft put on a surprisingly agile display featuring a simulated attack as well as some aerobatics

Another type which is synonamous with massed formations at Legends is the P-51 Mustang. After many years of restoration, TFC's P-51C Mustang Princess Elizabeth finally made it's first airshow appearance alongside TFC's P-51D Twilight Tear. The aircraft were both flown by Ed Shipley and Jim Beasley in a very tight formation duo display joined in the sky by three other Mustangs - Big Beautiful Doll in the hands of Rob Davies, OFMC's Ferocious Frankie and RACo's Susy. Talking of tight formation duos, the Naval section again featured the tight formation skills of Brian Smith and Eric Gujon put on an equally impressive display in TFC's and Corsair Warbird's FG-1D/F4U Corsairs. The naval tableau was very impressive featuring Plane Sailing's PBY Catalina, Kennet's AD4N Skyraider and the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Fury.  TFC's Cat collectgion was also out in force minus the Bearcat which was suffering from electrical problems and thus could perform it's traditional role of the Joker in the hands of Stephen Grey leaving the job to TFC's newest, the Curtis Hawk 75.

There was plenty of heavies at Legends this year. A Newcomer this year was Icelandair's DC-3 Dakota in a beatiful livery celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the first international flight by a Icelandic airliner. On Saturday another DC-3 displayed from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. More warlike heavy metal came in the form of B-17Gs Sally-B and Pink Lady escorted by TFC's P-47D Thunderbolt, and a pair of B-25 Mitchells from the Duke of Brabant Air Force and Jet Alpine Fighters escorted by TFC's P-40M Kittyhawk and P-39Q Airacobra.

Sunday Evening's Balbo

Much lighter and elegant warbirds came in the form of Shuttleworth's Gloster Gladiator and TFC's Hawker Nimrod I (Sunday Only) which joined TFC's Bucker Jungmeister flown by Anna Walker in typical aerobatic style representing the early 1930's fighting and training machines from both side. Another Biplane you cannot fail to notice is the Polikarpov I-15bis "Rata" again displayed quite energetically by it's russian pilot. More russian hardware came from France with Alan Capel's Yak-3M. The 3M is actually a Yak-11 modified to look like the original Yak-3 fighter it was developed from and is a lively performer!

As ever, Legends ended with the Balbo massed flypast of the warbirds, a spectacular sight every time you see it. Sunday was even more remarkable as the VE/VJ flypasts over London also launching from Duxford. Firstly we had mass takeoff by both formations, then the traditional Joker and Balbos before Pete Kynsey took on the role of a second Joker in the F7F Tigercat until the formations returned from London to either break for home or to land. There's only one way to describe Legends 2005 - Spectacular. No where else has an event quite like it with constant action throughout the display, superb flying and the world's greatest aircraft.

 copyright Flightline UK 2005