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Their Finest Hour

Force for Good
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Defending King and Country
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Smoke On Go!
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Shoreham Airshow was the only airshow held over the Battle of Britain Day weekend in 2006. Originally a move to avoid clashes with Duxford that paid dividends ensuring it was the only airshow in the UK that weekend. This combined with good weather meant record crowds for what we believe was the best installment of the Shoreham Airshow so far. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

Dream Time Flying
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Teichman's Choice
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Real Flying Company
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Red Devils
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The Law
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Gentlemen's Carriage
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Naval Force
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Past and Present
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No Fokker Comes Close!!

Sorry, we couldn't resist the Spitfire Ale's slogan for this little section. Shoreham hosted one of the best tributes to the Spitfire. With Dan Griffiths in the Me108 succesfully taken care of by Dad's Army and a pair of Hawker Hurricanes, five Spitfires returned over Shoreham, a sight not seen since the Seconf World War. Pilots John Romain, Rod Dean, Rats Ratcliffe, Cliff Spink and Charlie Brown put on a truly wonderful series of formation passes and a tailchase which was appropriately closed by a virtuoso solo performance by Charlie Brown in HAC's Spitfire Vb.

 

The 17th edition of the Shoreham Airshow saw a major landmark broken in the show's history; over £1 million has been raised in the support of the Royal Air Forces Association. The show continues to go from success to success thanks to it's dedicated volunteer team and to all at Shoreham Airport who put together one of the best organised shows in the UK, not only from the publics point of view, but also to all the pilots and other involved. The venue also is possibly the best in the UK, with Lancing College's Chapel, the central Minster of the Woodward Corporation dominating the skyline of the display area.

2006 saw bright skies for the show, albeit with some really hazy conditions. That's bad news for the photographers amongst us, but for the pilots is makes things much more difficult as once prominent references such as the horizon simply disappear. It also lead to a few acts being "socked in" at various airfields around the country on Saturday resulting in a rejigged flying display on the opening day.

The show opened with the first display from Peter Teichman's Hanger 11 collection - the Spitfire PRXI. This was also first of the tributes to the immortal Spitfire and was flown to a special piece of music adopted by the RAF as a march. Peter appeared later in the day at the controls of his P-51D Mustang Jumpin Jaques flying alongside his newly acquired P-40M Kittyhawk flown by Stu Goldspink. As always, there were plenty of warbirds on show. Being the only UK show of the weekend meant it was the only possible engagement for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who had all four types currently operated at the show - Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota.

Other "heavies"included a C-47 Dakota on static display and Plane Sailing's Catalina in the flying display - always an interesting sight within the confines of Shoreham Airport. The naval theme was continued by the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Fury and the Red Bull Sponsored Sea Vixen flown by Brian Grant. The Sunday marked 50 years since Brian had flown into Shoreham during training. He duly celebrated by performing (with permission!!!) a touch and go on Shoreham's runway - no mean feet considering the track of the aircraft's undercarriage isn't much less than the runway width! Sunday saw a display by Rod Dean in Real Flying Company's T-6 Harvard, painted as a US Navy SNJ used to train wartime naval pilots. Another regular at Shoreham is B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B which is always popular with the crowds.

It was however, the Spitfire and Hurricane scramble that was perhaps the focus of the show with a truly spectacular airfield attack by Dan Griffiths in the Me108 Taifun being seen off by Keith Dennison in Peter Vacher's Hurricane I and HAC's Hurricane XII flown by Ian Simmons supported by the Real Dad's Army in their (cardboard) armoured car. With Dan surrendering to Dad's Army the five Spitfires return for a victorious formation and tailchase sequence - without doubt one of the best tributes to the type this year.

Fox's Final Fling

Once again surprising everybody was Guy Westgate in the MDM-1 Fox Glider towed by Jon Gowdy in RFC's Extra 300L. The unique sight of both the tow aircraft and glider rolling at low level certainly catches the attention of many plus the unlimited aerobatic abilities of the Fox Glider and Guy. Shoreham was, however, the last outing for the Fox. In 2007, Guy will be displaying a S-1 Swift, a faster more agile single seat glider once again utilising the Extra as the tow.

 

Shoreham is always a varied show and as well as presenting historic and modern military displays, always provides some excellent civilian displays. First of these each day were the Yakovlevs team with their fourship routine. As ever. solo display aerobatics were well represented. Denny Dobson gave a polished routine in his Extra 300 on both days including his famous limbo flying and ribbon cutting. He was joined on Saturday by Justyn Gorman flying the Real Flying Company's Extra 300L.  In complete contrast to Denny Dobson's display, Justyn performs a demanding gyroscopic display with plenty of vertical elements leading into tumbles and spins. If you still hadn't had enough Extras, four more arrived courtesy of the Blades from 2Excel Aviation. They had donated their display to the show in aid of RAFA, something which is very close to the three ex RAF members of the team. Sukhois too had a strong lineup at the show. Will Curtis once again stunned the crowds with his take on flying the most powerful variant of the famous Sukhoi Su-26. However, it was the Matadors that really stole the show. On Saturday Paul Bonhomme was the only member of the team to make it and duly put on a sintilating solo routine in his Su-26 winning the prize for best display. On Sunday, Steve Jones finally managed to get airbourne from his base to join Paul for another great duo display. If you thought spectacular aerobatics was all about powerful motors then you only have to look at Guy Westgate's display in the Fox Glider to see otherwise. Whilst not as aerobatic, the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers always prove a hot with the Shoreham crowds. This is the last year that they'll be seen under the Utterly Butterly brand sponsorship and they gave a great account of themselves with three aircraft on Saturday and the full fourship on Sunday.

Slowing things down a bit was the De Havilland Dragon Rapide flown by Ken Whitehead in a elegant series of passes. The Rapide is a highly appropriate aircraft to have a Shoreham considering the venue's 1930's terminal building which dominates the airfield. Today Shoreham is still providing passenger flights to the Channel Islands but is also a base for the Sussex Police MD900 Explorer which gave an impressive display in catching criminals and general handling.

Only being able to drop in on Sunday due to the misty conditions across the country were the Parachute Regiments Display Team, the Red Devils. It was a busy weekend for the team that attended Shoreham. They were also jumping in the Netherlands commemorating the 62nd Anniversary of Operation Market Garden at Arnhem.

Bye Bye Utterly Butterly!!

No, the team aren't hanging up their flying gear just yet! Shoreham saw the last full fourship routine on the Sunday by the team under the Utterly Butterly brand sponsorship. The team have enjoyed several years of sponsorship by the St Ivel brand were keen to end the partnership on a high with a great display. Next year he team will be known as Team Guinot in relation to their new sponsors who produce cosmetics and skincare products. The new sponsorship will see the aircraft overhauled, including a new engine and cowling for the example without cowling and recovering for the new Pink and White scheme.

As we mentioned earlier, Shoreham had the weekend to itself airshow wise which greatly helped in attracting the largest RAF contingent at the show to date. Both of the RAF's battlefield helicopters were on hand to give their excellent displays. The Merlin HC3 certainly made good use of the venue with their display approaching the airfield very low below the levels of the hills to the north of the airfield. The Chinook HC2 too put on an exciting routine of tight turns and climbs that you simply shouldn't be able to do in a large transport aircraft.

Much of the final hour of the flying program was dedicated to the route a pilot could take on entering the Royal Air Force. First to display was Flt Lt Chris Knight in the little Grob Tutor T1. Despite being perhaps the quietest of the RAF's displays it is infact one of the best. Chris throws the little Grob around in great style, even better than some aerobatic displays keeping the aircraft in front of the crowd at all times. Moving up in performance, the next display was the Shorts Tucano T1 flown by Flt Lt Daz Mackenzie. Like the Tutor and many of the other RAF displays this was the last display of the season for Daz who was "creamed" off to be an instructor on the Tucano. He expects to complete his tour on the Tucano in December and eventually fly the Harrier GR9 operationally. The final segment of RAF training was a display by the Hawk T1. The display at Shoreham came from Flt Lt Dunc Wylie from 100sqn, also his last display of the year.

The RAF's front line force was represented by two very popular displays. The first was the Harrier GR7 from No.20(R) Squadron based at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire. Flt Lt Pete Keenlyside put on two impeccable displays over the two days but it wasn't completely smooth running. At the end of Saturday's displays there were two very loud pops as the aircraft touched down as the main wheel tyres both burst. The aircraft managed to limp to the end of the runway from which the ground crews were able to jack the aircraft and replace the tyres that evening. No doubt Pete bought the rounds. Final display from the RAF was the Typhoon. Last year saw flypasts by a T1 but this year Shoreham got the full display by Sqn Ldr Matt Elliot who gave a great account of the aircraft that looks set to be the future of the RAF.

This year's show will go down as perhaps the best Shoreham airshow to date. As well as a great venue, the show has a great atmosphere with some great aeroplanes in the sky and a superb show on the ground. It may not have the exotica of the big military airshows nor many debuts, but the way in which the show is presented is superb. Without doubt, Shoreham is one of the best, if not the best family airshow in the UK.

Flightline UK would like to thank John Periam, Simon Fenwick, Justyn Gorman, Guy Westgate and Team without whom this report would not have been possible.

 copyright Flightline UK