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Duxford, c'est magnifique!

A little bit of this and that
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American Power
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Foxy Trainer
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Hurricane
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Spitfire Finale
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The Autumn airshow at Duxford used to be a flying display of a few odds and ends at the end of the season. However, recent years have seen the show develop into quite a well planned major event. This years show went one better becoming an international event with displays from the Belgian and Frech Air Forces. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All Photography copyright of the Author.

RAF's Final Fling
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Black catting
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Belgian Treats
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Catching the wire, Cub style!
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Grounded
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Soar like an Eagle
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Vive La France!

To have the Patrouille de France was a major coup for Duxford, particularly as the major military airshows held over the last year (except RIAT) didn't attract any of the big european teams this year. Duxford were clearly delighted and treated their French guests really very well making sure they were the stars of the show with a special banner tow from Anna Walker and her Skytricks Piper Cub and a parade in two Jeeps and Jane Larcombe's convertible Saab!! We hope this isn't the last time we see the Patrouille at Duxford.

 

There was certainly a continental feel to the last show of the year at Duxford despite the now traditional cold air. The Duxford organisers had managed to do what so many others had tried to do this year and attract the French national aerobatic team across the channel. It was the Patrouille de France's only UK appearance of year. Duxford has found it difficult recently to get the Red Arrows to it's displays so to have the French team was a major coup for the show and they had the honour of opening the show.

The other major "coup" for Duxford was some solid support from the Belgian Armed Forces. The diminutive Fouga Magister performed perhaps it last ever display at the show, but it was the way the F-16AM Fighting Falcon was displayed that really caught the attention. Commandant Mickey Artiges' display is always entertaining but at the end of his display he joined up with Rod Dean in the Aircraft Restoration Company's Spitfire FRXVIII for a number of flypasts. This had been seen at the Beauvechain show in Belgium at the beginning of September and was a most welcome sight at Duxford leading to a quite serious question. With the RAF having five of it's own Spitfires, why can't such a formation be done with a Typhoon or Tornado more often at a UK show? Regular attendees now are the USAF 492nd FS based at RAF Lakenheath with a flypast by two F-15E Strike Eagles. The weather was such that it allowed the two aircraft to finally perform zoom climbs at the end of their fast flypasts.

Fouga Farewell

The end is nigh for the little Fouga Magister. This was the last time the little butterfly tailed jet will be seen in the UK under military ownership. On completing his display, Lt Col Paul Rorive gave an emotional farewell speech over the radio and tannoy at Duxford thanking all have been involved with his displays over the last five seasons.

 

The home team contributed three displays. Touring in was the amazing RAF Chinook HC2 display putting on a display of the seemingly impossible agility of this heavy transport aircraft. More military helicopters came in the form of two Westland Lynx HAS3/HMA8 helicopters of the Black Cats display team with their balletic performance. The only RAF fixed wing display came from Flt Lt Martin Pert in the colourful Hawk T1 from No 4FTS at RAF Valley.

As with any Duxford show there was a strong warbird element to show thanks to the large resident population at Duxford. One of the talking points of the show was B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B which had only just made it back from Duxford following a repaint at Southend Airport. Sally-B had been in desperate need of a repaint for a long time. Paintwork helps preserve the structure of the aircraft and decayed paint can often lead to decay of the airframe. Air Livery offered Sally-B a complete respray at a special rate if the aircraft could be flown to Southend at very short notice. Within four days she was there and now looks resplendent in her new coat. Another type which is a favourite at Duxford is the P-51 Mustang. The Autumn Airshow saw a three ship display from TFC's P-51C Princess Elizabeth and P-51D Twilight Tear together with OFMC's P-51D Ferocious Frankie flown by Nick Grey, Pete Kynsey and Alistair Kay. The take off these fighters will long live in the memory of those at the western end!

Silent Witness

Visitors to the Autumn Airshow would have noticed a few odd goings on near the American Air Museum. This was for the filming of a new episode of BBC's Silent Witness starring Emilia Fox

Another North American product making quite a rare appearance was the T-28 Fennec which continued the continental theme along with TFC's F8F Bearcat in the hands of TFC's owner, Stephen Grey who clearly enjoys flying what is reputed to be his favourite type.

However, Duxford will forever be famous for it's role during the Battle of Britain and therefore the Spitfire and Hurricane. Opening the finale of the show was Charlie Brown in HAC's Hurricane XII. It had been hoped to display HAC new Nimrod II but it couldn't pass it's Airworthiness certificate in time for the show and was substituted with the Hurricane.

However, what better way to close a Duxford show or an airshow season than with Spitfires? The Autumn airshow managed to pull together eight Spitfires for the final formation, nine in total counting the aircraft that flew with the F-16. This was more genuine airworthy Spitfires than took part in the Spitfire 70th Anniversary airshow in September! Leading the massed Spitfires was Brian Smith in TFC's Spitfire Vb. He was followed by TFC's Spitfire XIV, OFMC's Spitfire IX, ARCo's Spitfire IX, The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire IX, HAC's Spitfire Vb, Carolyn Grace's Spitfire T9 and finally ARCo's Spitfire T9. The Spitfires formed up into a formation similar to that flown by the Patrouille de France at the beginning of their display in honour of the team before splitting off for one of those famous tailchase sequences. With six of the Spitfires tailchasing Lee Proudfoot and John Romain put some formation aerobatics in the ARCo and OFMC Spitfire IXs bringing back memories of Ray Hanna's last public display at last years Autumn show. All too quickly it was over bringing an end to another airshow and to the season itself.

 

Duxford once again managed to surpass themselves with the Autumn Airshow, undoubtedly their best offering of the year and considering the quality of those just shows how good this show was. With perfect weather aswell this was a very good way to end another successful and more importantly, safe display season. We are already looking forward to what the 2007 season at Duxford brings us with the prospect of several exciting restorations being completed over the winter and next year.

The dates for the 2007 shows have been released:-

  • 20th May 2007 - May Air Show
  • 7th-8th July - Flying Legends
  • 8th-9th September - Duxford Air Show 2007
  • 14th October - Autumn Air Show

Flightline UK would like to thank Ellie Gittos and all at the Duxford Marketing and Public Relations Departments and of course the Media Escorts for their help over the 2006 season.

 copyright Flightline UK