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The 2007 Biggin Hill International Air Fair was the first really large airshow of the 2007 season and probably one of the most important of the year. It was important because Biggin Hill hosted the full lineup of RAF display being the first proper airshow of the year to boast "Priority 1" status for the RAF.  Biggin would be the first time the RAF's new "Role Demonstration" was integrated into an established airshow and Biggin was also able to host a couple of very rare RAF formations. The RAF involvement also should not detract from Biggin being one of the most varied airshows on the calendar with everything from World War One dogfighting to unlimited aerobatics. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of author.

Aluminum Overcast
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The Aerobats
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Welcome Return
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Fly Army
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Thank God for the Navy
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Spitfire Finale
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Opening Shots
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The Yanks
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Lest We Forget
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Spitfire Summer
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Ain't Miss Behavin'
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RAF Solos
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Dropping In
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 The Great War in the air recreated

One of the most impressive displays from the weekend was the Great War Display Team's massed dogfight. In a dight all to rare these days , the replicas including five SE5as, Sopwith Triplane and Neiuport 17 aircraft fought off two Junkers CL1 ground attack aircraft and a Fokker Triplane. With so many aircraft, the sky was full of biplanes and triplanes ducking and turning that you could be mistaken for thinking it was for real. A huge well done to all the pilots and crew of GWDT.

 

The weather couldn't have been more different from Southend just five days earlier. Hot warm sunshine with a cooling breeze bathed Biggin Hill. This coupled with the return of the Red Arrows and very good publicity ensured Biggin massive crowds. Over 100,000 spectators came through the gateswhich is almost 20,000 more people than last year. One thing that was very noticable this year was a complete change in layout for the event. Most of the aircraft for the show was parked down the southern end of the site in front of the hangers and the hospitality areas moved too releasing up a large area for the crowds at display centre and leaving an area free for the new RAF Village, dominated by the static Merlin HC3.

It was no surprise then the event was opened by the Royal Air Force is quite some style. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire PR19 formed up with Flt Lt Jim Walls in the Eurofighter Typhoon F2 from 29(R) Squadron for a number of passes before the Typhoon gave it's solo display. In it's 50th Anniversary year, it was appropriate to have a strong contigent from the BBMF as it's was in 1957 the flight formed (as the Historic Aircraft Flight) at RAF Biggin Hill. Later on the display, the four original fighters (Supermarine Spitfire PR19s PS915, PM631 and PS853 with Hurricane IIc LF363) gave a reprise of their unique fourship display that was seen at Duxford in early May before a solo by the Lancaster.

June sees the release of the film "Flyboys" and the film was launch at the show with a special display from the Great War Display Team with nine replica aircraft from the first world war. Their display deservably won praise for filling the skies with aeroplanes reenacting a first world war dogfight,

 New Colours, New Girl on the wing!

Team Guinot may have already been seen out and about in 2007 sporting their new colours but Biggin Hill was a significant event for the team. On the ground they had their new  promotion "Airstream Caravan" which was handing out free samples of "Factor 30" suncream which was much appreciated over the weekend. It was also the first display for Lorraine Saddler who won her chance to join the team during March. Flying with her was Sarah Tanner on the lead aircraft. Pilots for the weekend were Vic Norman and Andy Wyatt.

Historic types always play a major role in any show at Biggin Hill, particularly Spitfires. This year saw just two examples participate - the Spitfire TIX of Carolyn Grace and Peter Monk Spitfire IX "The Spirit of Kent" The latter Spitfire has recently moved to be based at Biggin Hill Airport full time. It was flown at the show by John Romain and along with the Grace Spitfire saw off the Me109J Buchon flown by AVM Cliff Spink in a pyrotechic enhanced airfield attack! The American participation in the second world war was also well represented. Peter Teichman displayed his stunning P-40M Kittyhawk to great effect highlighting the wonderful flying characteristics of the type. B-17G Sally-B made her annual pilgrimage to her first home and was joined with OFMC's P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie flown by Alistair Kay. Alistair's first pass was very typical of OFMC displays keeping the aircraft very low along the runway - a fine sight against the backdrop of the control tower and London behind. Moving into the jet age, Johnathon Whalley's very bright Hunter F58a put in two very spirited performances using the noise and presence of the Hunter to good effect. Not bad for an aircraft that to Travor Graham of Hampshire Sound looked like a 1970's Ice lolly!

 The RAF arrive with a bang!

The biggest talking point of the show  was undoubtely the RAF's role demonstration involving a E-3D Sentry AEW1, C-130J Hercules C5, Chinook HC2, 2 Hawk T1s, 2 Tornado F3s and 2 Tornado GR4s plus plenty of pyrotechnics. Based loosely on the RAF Leuchars role demonstrations, the idea has been to create a basic scenario to show  many of the roles the RAF performs. It was a huge success and bodes well for the rest of the shows lucky enough to host the event.

Civilian aerobatics had a particularly strong showing during the display. John Taylor put on an excellent display in the Ultimate High Extra 300L while Will Curtis did the same for his russian Su-26M2. Extra 300s actually made quite a few appearances during the flying. The Blades used four 300LP aircraft to such great effect they took home the award for best team display However, in complete contrast to all these acts was the Swift Aerobatic Display Team of S-1 Swift glider and Extra 300L tow aircraft. The display starts with the Extra, flown by Jon Gowdy towing Guy Westgate in Swift. The power of the Extra is such that both aircraft can roll on the tow before performing a ZOOM climb to release altitude and Guy's solo unlimited glider aerobatics. Electrical problems prevented the new mirror pass but Saturday's crowd did get an early preview of this before the show started.

However, Biggin 2007 will undoubtly be remembered for the contribution by the UK armed services. The Army Air Corps Blue Eagles were the sole representatives of army aviation though they were joined by the Tigers Parachute Display Team from the Princess of Wales Regiment.. Naval Aviation past and present was well represented by the Royal Navy's Sea Fury FB11 in it's new scheme and a rare display by a Merlin HM1.

But it was the Royal Air Force that stole the show turning the airfield for a couple of hours back to RAF Biggin Hill. As well as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and solo Typhoon mentioned earlier, the RAF had all of it's solo displays at the show showing off the course prospective pilots would take flying Tutor T1, Tucano T1 and Hawk T1. Also display was a very busy Chinook HC2 which took part in the Role Demonstration and as a dropship for the Tigers. It was also great to see the Red Arrows back at Biggin Hill after a years absence. Such is the popularity of the team they are considered one of the main reason for the boosted crows numbers and as ever, they did not dissappoint. But, it was the Role Demonstration that took centre stage. Created by Sqn Ldr Andy Pawsey and his team at the new RAF Events Team, the display aims to showcase what the RAF actually does, rather than what it can do and is based loosely on the similar demonstrations we have seen at RAF Leuchars over the last couple of years. I have to admit to being slightly skeptical about the whole idea of having a traveling role demonstration working but how wrong I was - it is quite simply a hugely successful breath of fresh air for the airshow circuit in that it not only tells a story, but also does so with some spectacular special effects. It's never going to appeal to some enthusiasts as some of the time the aircraft are quite high simulating interception and command and control but there is a chance to see all the aircraft in loose formation at the end of the demonstration. Overall, the demonstration was well received by the public; there was spontaneous applause as the aircraft taxied in and some glowing comments from those interviewed on local radio.

The show was closed by the "Spirit of Kent" Spitfire IX flown by John Romain which over this historic airfield is always an emotional display. There's no doubt that Air Fair 2007 was a hugely successful show. Much of the success can be attributed to the Royal Air Force involvement, particularly that of Sqn Ldr Andy Pawsey and the Events Team. However, just as important was the rest of the show. Biggin always has a brilliant mix of displays from the civilian and warbird worlds and without them it wouldn't be the same. We're already looking forward to 2008!

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