The Autumn Air Show on Sunday 10 October celebrates both the 65th birthday of B-17 Fortress G-BEDF Sally B, and 75 years of the B-17 Fortress. The only B-17 currently flying in Europe, Sally B delights air show crowds with her majestic display and is a favourite with IWM Duxford visitors.
She has been based at the Museum, operated by B-17 Preservation, for 35 years.
Closing the air show season for 2010, the Autumn Air Show will feature superb modern and historic aircraft, with an American theme to complement the Sally B anniversary.
The line-up of iconic US aircraft includes the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina, Grumman F8F Bearcat, Piper L4 Cub, leVier Cosmic Wind and USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle from RAF Lakenheath.
The B17’s Boeing lineage is also represented by the Stearman biplane trainer and Apache AH Mk1 from the Army Air Corps Attack Helicopter Force at Wattisham.
Aircraft from the highly productive North American stable include the F-86 Sabre jet, P-51 Mustangs, T-28s and Harvards.
For the first time in more than two decades in UK skies, four American Pitts Special biplanes will be brought together in a flypast salute to the famous Rothmans Aerobatic Team, before performing their two separate paired routines.
A special flypast is being mounted in honour of Sally B, which flies as a memorial to the 79,000 US airmen who lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War. In acknowledgement of the United States Air Force’s historic relationship with the airfields of Eastern England, she will be escorted by three P-51 Mustangs. She will then be overflown by two F-15C Eagles of the 493rd Fighter Squadron to signify the region’s ongoing contemporary relationship with the United States Air Force.
Additional flying participation includes the BAE Systems Hawk, Embraer EMB-312 Tucano, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Supermarine Spitfire, Red Hawks Fournier Duo, Hawker Sea Fury and The Black Cats, the Royal Navy’s Lynx helicopter display team.
RAF Duxford was handed over to the United States 8th Air Force in April 1943, becoming Base 357, the headquarters of the 78th Fighter Group. The Group flew P-47 Thunderbolts and, from December 1944, P-51 Mustangs. It provided fighter escort to the large US bomber raids against occupied Europe and Germany itself.
B-17 Fortresses were flown by the 91st Bombardment Group from nearby RAF Bassingbourn from 14 October 1942 through to June 1945. The Group operated primarily as a strategic bombardment organisation during the Second World War.
On the ground, living history groups recreate the role of the B-17 Bomber crew. There will be activities for all ages, including childrens rides, tank rides and demonstrations. The Parachute Regiment will be offering aerial bungee jumps from its jump tower, alongside performances from the Parachute Regiment band and guest appearance from the Parachute Regiment mascot.
The relaxed atmosphere at the Autumn Air Show is equally appreciated by pilots and crowds and makes for a perfect Sunday outing.