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The Duxford Autumn Airshow is the traditional end to the UK season and in the past couple of years has proved to be one of the best shows of year. 2007 was no different with another brilliant collection of varied displays from the home teams and those from further afield. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of author.

TFC's Fleet
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Whistling Jets
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The Dogfight
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Solo Mustang
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Coventry Classic
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Dragon Rapide
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L4 vs T6
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Today's Forces
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Training around the world
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Hawker Heritage
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Waiting in the Wings
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Duxford Selection
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The Matadors

A team we haven't seen much of in 2007 are the Matadors and their pair of russian Sukhoi Su-26 aerobatic aircraft. The team's mix of solo and close formation aerobatics are quite superb. The main reason why we haven't seen the team as much is because of the commitment of pilots Paul Bonhomma and Steve Jones to the Red Bull Air Race World Series in is currentlt lead by Paul Bonhomme. Flightline UK wihes Team Matador the best of luck for the final race of the year in Perth, Austrailia.

The Duxford Autumn shows are amongst my very favourite airshows. They take on a slightly different atmosphere to the other shows sending out the season with the flourish rather than a winding down feel. When the weather is good, Duxford's historic airfield makes a tremendous backdrop for the flying displays even though the early autumn haze and low sun coes mean photography can become tricky. On the subject of weather it's been good to have such good weather at the end of a season that has proved so troublesome with some shows experiencing some pretty extreme conditions compared to previous years.

As ever, the format of the Autumn show followed much the same as that of any other Duxford airshow with the morning given over to wandering around the excellent museum hangers and the flightlines opened up for the "Flightline Walk." As in previous years, the morning's proved to be a misty affair adding to the unique atmosphere of the show. The show opened proper with the distictive sound of the Fighter Collection's collections of "Cats" growling around the Duxford sky. FM-2 Wildcat, F6F Bearcat and F8F Bearcat all got into the air for a formation pass before a solo by the Bearcat in the hands of TFC owner, Stephen Grey. The two other cats appeared again towards the end of the display when they were joined by TFC's P-39Q Airacobra and P-51TF Mustang Miss Velma in an exciting tailchase sequence. The Old Flying Machine also showed off their P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie in the stlye so typical of OFMC displays.

The flightline also had a cumber of static aircraft including TFC's Hawk 75 and Radial Revelations C-45 Expeditor. At the end of the line was Spitfire Ltd's Focke Wulf Fw190A rebuild that could be flying at an airshow next year if all goes well. In the flying, Spitfire Ltd flew it's Messerschmitt Me109J Buchon in a tailchasing sequence with three Spitfires. Leading the Spitfires was Spitfire Ltd's own Spitfire XVI joined by OFMC's Spitfire IX and a rare appearance by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire XIX in a civilian organised routine.

Not to be outdone, the Historic Aircraft Collection displayed two Hawker products together, the Hawker Nimrod II and Hawker Hurricane XII. The Nimrod put in a suprising aerobatic performance underlining the fact it was indeed a fighter aircraft. Another HAC aircraft in the display was the De Havilland Chipmunk. It was joined by two other Chipmunk resident with the Aircraft Restoration Company in a reprise of the Red Sparrows displays we saw in 2006.

There was a very distinct training theme to the show. The Aircraft Restorcation Compant's Pilatus P-2 gave a very rare and sporting display in the hands of John Romain. Also representing 1950's piston powered trainers was Radial Revelation's distictive T-28 Fennec. It's predecessor, the T-6 Texan/Harvard was also in the display, but flying a very different type of display. Anna Walker flew the T-6 in a "dogfight" with a L-4 Cub which was bunting and turning over the centre of the airfield thus proving how hard L-4s were to shoot down during the war.

The story of training aircraft was brought right up to date with the final appearance for Flt Lt Bobby Moore flying the No 72(R) squadron Tucano T1. Though without the "display ship," Bobby's display was a crisp as ever highlighting some of the great qualities of the RAF trainer.

Duxford's Heritage Flight

Making a welcome return was the Belgian Armed Forces F-16AM Fighting Falcon flown by Mickey Artiges. The F-16 first appeared last year and like then operated from nearby RAF Mildenhall. As well as the exciting solo display, the F-16 was again joined by some Duxford residents. This year however, the formation involved two residents, ARCo's Spitfire XVIII and TFC's P-51TF Mustang Miss Velma. As ever it was a great addition to the season's finale but does ponder the question; "Why can't the RAF do this?" The RAF has flown some great formations over 2007 with the Typhoon and Spitfire, Typhoon and Meteor etc but this was just that more dynamic! With the RAF celebrating it's 90th Anniversary next year, we hope the people that count were watching!

The only other participant from the UK forces were the Black Cats display team with their pair of Lynx HAS3/HMA8 helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton. In the run up to the event the team had appeared on BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans drivetime show generating a lot of publicity for themselves, the Navy and Duxford. It was also good to see that they had managed to bring both of the specially painted team Lynxs to the show. The Black Cats also had a secondary role acting an air taxi service for the F-16 crew who were based at RAF Mildenhall.

The heaviest aircraft in the flying programme was Air Atlantique's Douglas DC-3 Dakota and it almost certainly win's the prize for the most spirited routine which included turning straight after getting airborne and some steep wing overs. Joining it was the unusually marked DC-3 of the Dutch Dakota Association. While one side is marked in the usual scheme we have seen for many years, the starboard side is currently in the colour of Air France, albeit with large Dutch "PH" markings. Another rare airliner visitor was Aurigny's ATR-72 that was operating a charter service to the show. At the other end of the scale was Mark Miller's stunning De Havilland Dragon Rapide that is based at Duxford along with the examples from Classic Wings.

Another Duxford based organisation is Golden Apple Operations who operate the world's oldest airworthy F-86A Sabre. The Sabre flew with the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Seahawk FGA6 for a salute to the designs of early jets from the early 1950's.

However the show highlight was the Belgian Armed Forces F-16AM Fighting Falcon flown by MIckey Artiges. The aircraft was the example resplendent in the new two tone grey display scheme. It was the second year running that the Belgian had displayed their powerful fighter over Duxford to close the season in style and the F-16 was able to shaking the ground in the early autumn skies. Like last year the F-16 also led a "heritage" formation though this time with two warbirds, ARCO's Spitfire XVIII flown by Rod Dean and TFC's P-51TF Miss Velma flown by Pete Kynsey.

The show was closed by Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones from the Red Bull sponsored Matadors and their patriotic Su-26 aerobatics aircraft which often seem to deft the laws of physics. With their display over and some very showmen like taxiing from the two Red Bull Air Race pilots the season finally drew to a close.

As ever Duxford finished the display season off in style with a memorable and exciting day's flying. The show was a fitting finale to the season of shows at Duxford and to the entire display season as a whole. Here's hoping for a similarly successful, if not better season in 2008!

Flightline UK would like to thank Tracey Woods, Phillipa Evans and all those at Duxford for their assistance over the 2008 season.

copyright Flightline UK