The Woodchurch Wings and Things Airshow may have not been the most well known airshow in the UK, but for those who regularly attended the show it is one of the most sorely missed events.
The venue for Wings and Things was Rob Davies’ private strip just outside the village of Woodchurch. During the second world war, Woodchurch was home to an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) and saw RAF Mustangs and USAAF P-47s use the strip. At one point, a damaged B-24 Liberator successfully forced landed on the strip. Rob Davies strip is based just to the west of the orginal airfield.
As well as a huge fly-in and the display flying, the show also saw an impressive vintage and classic car rally with clubs from all over the UK taking part. There were also some Traction engines and other steam powered machinery on show.
The modern airfield nestled on a slope which made for some spectacular landings from the participating aircraft. The show was very popular for pilots and public alike, and the airfield was often at capacity very quickly. Later events even saw some of the participating aircraft using Headcorn as a base with Woodchurch being so full.
The afternoon flying displays were amazing affairs that could rival any Duxford airshow for quality. Much of the flying had the feel of the old Tiger Club displays with all sorts of aerobatics and barnstorming. The rest saw some of the best “heavy iron” displays the the UK can offer!
The show was often opened with a glider display by local display pilot Alan Garside in a PiK glider. The locally based Turbulent Team were also a fixture on the flying programme making the short hop from Headcorn. The Tiger Club also operate G-ACDC, the oldest airworthy Tiger Moth and that too made appearances at Woodchurch, even with a wingwalking rig!
Powerful aerobatic aircraft were always a stong feature of the flying display. Will Curtis was a strong supporter with regular appearances in his Sukhoi Su-26. Other notable participants were Will’s team mate, Justyn Gorman in the Pitts Special and the Red Bull Matadors. The Utterly Butterly Barnstormers also visited Wings and Things with their powerful Stearman making some low passes in front of the crowd.
However, Woodchurch was always about warbirds and classic jets. Over the years, an amazing variety of historic machinery took part representing aircraft from the first world war right through the Korean War. The Battle of Britain was always a popular theme for this mid-Kent airshow. The Real Aeroplane Company’s Hurricane was a regular participant flown by the late Brian Brown in it’s distinctive night fighter scheme. The enemy of often portrayed by the 108 Group’s Me108 Taifun. Spitfires too were popular with notable appearances by Peter Teichman’s PRXI and Spitfire Ltd’s XVIe.
Naval aviation was never forgotten and Kennet Aviation displayed their Skyraider and the Seafire during their first seasons of display flying. However, it was the Fighter Collection’s Corsair that will be well remembered by the Wings and Wheels crowds. The big heavy fighter operated from the small farm strip in the capable hands of Pete Kynsey. The sight of the large powerful fighter powering down the dust confines of the strip was always impressive as was the aerobatics it performed overhead.
However, it was always the american aircraft that were the stars of the show. Rob Davies and Maurice Hammond always had their impressive aircraft at the show displaying their Harvards and Mustangs to great effect. Sally-B too was a regular and often formed up with the Mustangs saluting the mighty USAAF.
The final items in the flying programme were always the jets. Golden Apple Operations always supported the show with their F-86 Sabre and T-33 Silver Star. The North Weald based jets also put in regular appearance with Mark Grimshaw’s Gnat and Jet Provost being notable attendees.
Sadly however, Woodchurch became a victim of it’s own success. The airfield was well away from main roads down narrow country lanes and the growing popularity of the event often completely clogged these road. The airfield itself was at total capacity both in terms of aircraft and visitors. The ever increasing costs of putting on the event and supplying the health and safety requirements all contributed the events demise. For those that attended the show, it’s sorely missed.