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Down on the Farm!

Heavy Metal
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The Trainers
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The Great War
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Once a year, the sleepy Kent countryside around Ashford plays host to what has become one of the best loved shows on the circuit. Little Engeham Farm owned by warbird pilot Rob Davies plays host to "Wings and Things," a show that not only is an airshow, but also a steam rally and classic and military vehicle show. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from another outstanding show. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

Better Red Than Dead
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The Entertainers
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Dawn of the Jet
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Mustang Mania
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Woodchurch is perhaps one of the best "venues" on the display circuit. It's a superb backdrop for display flying for the public and pilots alike and there'a a unique atmosphere to the show. The public can really get up close to the display and some of the fly-in aircraft. Unfortunatly, the growth of the airshow has meant it has just out grown the size of the airfield with many fly-in aircraft parked on the live side and some display aircraft having to use neaby Headcorn airfield as a base! Over the years we have been visiting Woodchurch, there's no doubt it's popularity has grown signifucantly, mainly thanks to the superb organsation and brilliant entertainment laid on.

Perhaps the most extrordinary thing about Woodchurch is the quality of the flying display. There's a wide selection of well known warbirds and civilian acts on display all of which appear without fees for this charity event. This year, the weather wasn't kind for the photographers with a gloomy overcast for much of the day though it did remain dry.  The flying display opened as it has done in recent years with a graceful display of glider aerobatics from Alan Garside in a PiK-20D.

Much of the afternoon's flying has a historic military bias which pretty much tells the story of aerial warfare and training. The Great War Display Team contributed an SE5a replica is US Army colours and one of the Junkers CL-1 replicas for a demonstration of a typical World War One dogfight.

Training aircraft are as important as those front line machines and Woodchurch always manages to pull together some very good displays of historic trainers, perhaps second only to Old Warden. First of to displays was the Bucker Jungmann of Richard Pickin in it's 1336 Olympic colours. Another biplane trainer was the Boeing PT-17 Stearman in prewar US Army Air Force colours. The Miles Magister monoplane trainer made for a complete contrast to the biplanes. Rob Davies owns a Harvard IV at woodchurch and he was joined by Maurice Hammond's example as well as a Rochester based example flown by Tony Richards for a threeship formation and aerobatics display of the type while the Red Sparrows performed a threeship display in their Chipmunks representing Cold War training. Training in the Former Soviet Union was represented by a Headcorn based Yak-52.

Moving upto some real heavy metal, there were three marks of Supermarine aircraft at the show in this, the 70th Anniversary year of the Spitfire. New for the 2006 season is Kennet Aviation's Supermarine Seafire XVII. John Beattie had no trouble operating this much heavier and powerful fighter from the 780m farm strip to give a great account of this griffon engined example. Joining the Seafire was Peter Teichman in the unique Spitfire PRXI. Kent in particular will always be remembered as being in the front line during the Battle of Britain which is always closely associated with the Spitfire. To commemorate that part of the second world war, Cliff Spink's Spitfire XVI was joined by Brain Brown in RACo's black Hurricane XII, Ian Simmons in HAC's Hurricane XII and James Pittock flying the Messerschmitt Me108. Another regular display and always an impressive sight operating from Woodchurch is the FG-1D Corsair from the Fighter Collection in the hands of Chief TFC pilot, Pete Kynsey who puts on a powerful display in this tough naval fighter.

Star-Gazing

Making thieir Woodchurch debut were the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers, albeit with just a solo display flown by Tony Richards. On the wing was Tanya "Tinks" Gaze, who has been with the team since the days of the Cadbury's Crunchie sponsorship. Tanya's main occupation is as a Barrister but she is also currently the lead singer for new band called "Tinks" after her nickname. Currently "Tinks" are playing at a number of venues throughout the south east honing their sets - find out more at http://www.tinksmusic.com 

As always, Woodchuch had an impressive line up of aerobatic displays from a number of individuals and teams. Will Curtis regualrly displays his Su-26M2 at Woodchurch, one of his more local displays being based just a few miles west at Biggin Hill Airport and now sponsored by Road Angel. Joining Will for 2006 was Justyn Gorman in the Road Angel sponsored Pitts Special in a more classical display of aerobatics compared to Will's powerful display in the Sukhoi. Will's Sukhoi wasn't the only one in the show as for the first time, Woodchurch welcomed the Red Bull Matadors with their amazing close formation displays flown by Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones, regular and succesful participants in the Red Bull Air Racing Series. Also making a debut at Woodchurch was a solo display from the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers with Tiger Club pilot Tony Richards at the controls and Tanya Gaze on top of the wing. Being so close to Headcorn and with so many Tiger Club links at the show, it's only right to see the Turbulent Display Team join the fun, even if they did gain a new nickname of the "Early Learning Centre Display Team!"

Perhaps the biggest claim to aviation fame Woodchurch has is the it's use as an Advanced landing Ground for the Royal Air Force Mustang force and later the US 9th Air Force, mainly seeing P-47 Thunderbolts using the airfield. The actually ALG is actually just a 1/4 mile away from Rob's strip and therefore there can be few more fitting venues to host a gathering of USAAF fighters and bomber. Because of Rob's operation of P-51D Mustang "Big Beautiful Doll", recent years have seen Woodchurch become synonymous with the Mustang and joining "BBD" were Maurice Hammond's P-51D "Janie" and Taff Smith in P-51D "Susy" . Both Rob and Maurice formed up for their traditional flypast with B-17G Flying Fortress "Sally-B"before a series of solo displays and flypasts by all four aircraft.

In complete contrast to the displays before, the show was closed by a pair is historic jets. First of these was Golden Apple's F-86A Sabre flown by Mark Linney which is an entirely appropriate aircraft to see at Woodchurch with it's subtle "North American" theme. Final display was by Mark Grimshaw in the former Delta Jet's Gnat T1 in 4FTS colours.

Woodchurch once produce an highly entertaining afternoon's flying with some great displays old and new to the show. Praise must go to all the volunteers and operators that gave their services free of charge to help raise money for local charities and the Ashford ATC squadron. Both Stratton Richey and John Nolan gave excellent commentary on the aircraft and displays conveying the atmosphere and sense of fun that Woodchurch is all about. We're already looking forward to Wings and Things 2007!

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