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The 2007 Shoreham Airshow will undoubtley be remembered for the tragic accident involving a Hurricane that claimed the life of it's pilot, Brian Brown.  It was a tragedy that was felt by everyone at Shoreham and our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Brian. However, it should not be overlooked what a wonderful event was staged by the Royal Air Forces Association at Shoreham which attracted record crowds. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of author.

Spitfire Prelude
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The American Collection
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Classic Jets
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Today's RAF
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Tiger, Tiger
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Shoreham Scenes
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Showmen
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Naval Salute
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Team Guinot
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Sussex Explorer
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Yak Attack
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Brian Brown

Brian Brown was a well known and highly respected display pilot. His day job was running the beautiful airfield at Breighton from where he flew many of the aircraft from the Real Aeroplane Company's stable on the airshow circuit. Indeed, the Hurricane he was flying at Shoreham was the very same he had been flying in previous years when it was owned by RACo and he had said it was his very favourite aircraft.

The tragic accident on Saturday afternoon casted a very different atmosphere over the Shoreham Airshow which was held on Battle of Britain day. While the show did not deviate from it's family approach, it was a much more reflective and poignant show. The descision to let the show continue was taken after consultation with all the pilots involved, emergency services and the organising team. After the half hour break in flying that occurred immediately after the flying, the show restarted with a display by B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B in what was perhaps the most emotive display ever seen at Shoreham and was marked with a geniunely appreciative round of applause by the crowds.

The show was opened on both days by Carolyn Grace and Spitfire T.IX ML407. This was no ordinary Spitfire display but one which was carefully choreographed to "Spitfire Prelude" by Willian Walton. It was a stunning and beautiful way to open a flying display, particularly on the Battle of Britain weekend.

BBMF 50th Anniversary Sword

The longest supporting act of the RAFA events at Shoreham has been the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Thier involvement started at he very first event which was a small fete on the corner of the airfield. The BBMF were in the area when a cunning sir taffic controller asked the flight if they could fly over Shoreham. They did and the rest as they say is history; the flight have supported the event for all 17 Shoreham airshows.. 2007 sees the 50th anniversary of the flight and to mark this important event, the organisers of Shoreham Airshow, led by Don Bean, presented the current officer commanding, Sqn Ldr Al Pinner with a sword to celecrate the 50th anniversary. The BBMF's 2007 appearance at Shoreham was special for another reason, it was the first time the fighters have landed at Shoreham for the airshow .

 

Warbirds featured well in the Shoreham line up. There was a particularly fine collection of United States Army Air Force aircraft. Leading the line up with Sally-B was the Duke of Brabant's B-25 Mitchell which provided a highlight of the flying with a particularly tight display. The other US heavy was Plane Sailing's Catalina who always makes an impressive sight at Shoreham. Peter Teichman sent both his P-51D Mustang and P-40M Kittyhawk - the latter flown by Stu Goldspink. Locally based company, the Real Flying Company also had their T-6 Texan in display flown by Rod Dean to represent the popular american training aircraft.

2007 also saw a strong classic jet element to the flying. Mark Grimshaw sent an impressive selection of his fleet with a pair of Gnat T1s and a Jet Provost T3 displaying from their base at North Weald. Also from North Weald was the Vampire Preservation Groups's lovely Vampire T11 which is once again fully active on the circuit in the hands of Mark Hooten and Matt Hampton

Leading the line up of RAF warbirds were the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They sent their standard formation of Lancaster, Spitfire IIa and Hurricane IIc. For the first time in the history of the Shoreham airshow, the flight's fighters landed and overnighted at Shoreham. They have landed here before during thr Eastbourne airshow for fuel.

Sunday's display saw a display by four Tiger Moths operating from nearby Goodwood Aerodrome. The team are formed out of pilots who used to be part of the Diamond Nine display team.

The centre piece of the flying however is the "Scramble." Last year's scramble was a chellenge for everyone involved but it was so sucessful that it returned for 2007 with even more action in the air and on the ground. Despite the tragic accident that occurred towards the end of the scramble display on Saturday, we should not forget the supreme efforts of John Romain in coordinating what has become a highlight of the display season in it's own right. In total the sequence involved Hurricanes, two Me108 Taifuns, Spitfire Ltd's Me109 Buchon and six Spitfires as well as ground support from Dad's Army and an impressive pyrotechic display. The Scramble represents something that has been missing from many displays in the last few years and we are happy to report it will return at Shoreham in 2008.

Scramble! Scramble!

The "Scramble" is very possibly the best set piece display of the season. Organised and coordinated by John Romain it has really become a signature display of Shoreham. What really makes it stand out is the combined use of these historic aircraft and re-enactors to portrray a authentic realfeel to the public.

Shoreham saw a strong naval influence on the flying display. Kennet Aviation's wonderful Seafire XVII stood in for the piston aircraft of the flight and was joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Hawk FB6. The latter was making one it's first public appearances after an extended grounding. The modern day Royal Navy was represented by the Black Cats team of two Lynx HAS3 helicopter. On Sunday they had their own special guest in the hospitality area - DJ Chris Evans from Radio 2!

Shoreham's airshow is as much about variety as it looking back and again Shoreham had a lovely mix of civilian displays. First of these to display on Saturday was the S-1 Swift flown by Guy Westgate and Extra 300L tow aircraft flown by Justyn Gorman who ended a highly succesful inaugural season at Shoreham. Strong supporters of Shoreham over the years have been the Yakovlevs display team who always put on a superb show. Another popular four ship display are the Blades who arrived at Shoreham having already displayed at De Kooy in the Netherlands. The Blades have developed their routine throughout the 2007 season and are now one of the only teams allowed to arrive over the crowd to start their display. On the solo display front, the crowd were treated to a display by John Taylor in Ultimate High's Extra 300L. Team Guinot put on a full fourship display team and once again brought something new in to their dislpay. At the end of the display, some of the girls climbed to sit over the leading edge of the top wings rather than stanging on top of a fuselage.

More modern machinery was displayed by the Sussex police support unit, who are based at Shoreham, with a MD900 Explorer helicopter and the police dogs.

The modern day RAF was of course out in force for Shoreham. Though there have been cut backs in the way the RAF's displays it's roles at airshows, it was good to see all of the major solo displays at Shoreham at some point over the weekend. The RAF's Typhoon T1A displayed on Saturday only due to commitments in Wales but was a thrilling addition to the flying. Also only making Saturday was a very war weary Chinook HC2 which was still covered in the sand picked up in the desert! In the static park, there was one of the RAF latest machines, the Merlin HC3A.  These helicopters have been bought from the Danish government and modified to RAF standards. They will be operated by 78 squadron which will reform shortly. However, all three of the RAF's training aircraft were there for both days. Flt Lt Andy Preece gave an excellent account of the Grob Tutor T1 in the late afternoon sunlight, As with 2006, the RAF portion of the display followed the syllabus that a recruit would follow so the next display was Flt Lt Bobby Moore in the Tucano T1 with his lively account of the RAF's basic trainer. Flt lt Mike Child had a busy weekend in the Hawk T1 flying at both Shoreham and at the RAF town show in Swansea. However, perhaps the most spectacular participants were the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team with their C-130K Hercules C3 which actually operated from confines of Shoreham Airport. As well as fantastic parachuting display, the sight of this big aircraft operating on the confined ramp areas, grass taxiways and narrow runway was a great sight, even if at times it did threaten to blow away some of the lighter participants!

Shoreham airshow is a magnificent airshow that caters for all the family as well as enthusiasts. It's appeal not extends to the public, but to all those who take part and help put this show on. The tragic loss of Brian Brown was a very sad event, but the decision to allow the show to carry on as a tribute to fine aviator who had done so much industry. Shoreham Airshow will return over the 30th-31st August 2008 and we will be back.

Absolute Brighton, one of the shows sponsors have put together an absolutely superb film of the show which in itself is a brilliant tribute to Brian Brown, you can view it by clicking here.

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