The IWM Duxford Autumn Air Show (Sunday 16 October) celebrates the 80th anniversary of the first flightof the iconic Tiger Moth with a superb display by the Tiger Nine Team, which will see nine Tiger Moths inclose formation in the skies above Duxford.

The Tiger Nine formation team was created in the summer of 2005 in response to a request for a flypastof nine Tiger Moths at the 25th de Havilland Moth Club Rally at Woburn Abbey.

Having risen to the challenge, the newly-formed teamwent on to performits full display routine for thenext season.A challenging aircraft to fly in a formation display, the Tiger Moth requires a mature discipline and expert flying skill, particularly when operating a large group of Tiger Moths simultaneously.

There is something quintessentially British about a group ofmen froma diverse range of backgrounds,including airline pilots, ex-RAF pilots, a farmer, a sales executive, a company director, an anaesthetist andan RAF Wing Commander, coming together for the camaraderie and fun of flying such a special aircraft.

The Tiger Nine team is the only team in the world to have nine Tiger Moths in close formation. Its crowdpleasing,spectacularly entertaining display will be a significant highlight of the Autumn Air Show 2011.

The de Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth, designed by Geoffrey de Havilland, was first flown on 26 October1931 by de Havilland Chief Test Pilot Hubert Broad.The RAF ordered 35 dual-control Tiger Moth Is which had the company designation DH-82. Asubsequent order was placed for 50 aircraft powered by the de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine which wasthe DH-82A or, to the RAF, Tiger Moth II.The Tiger Moth entered service at the RAF Central Flying School in February 1932.

From the outset, it proved to be an ideal trainer, simple and cheap to own and maintain. The Tiger Moth required a sure andsteady hand to fly it well, enabling instructors to easily weed out inept student pilots. Whilst generally docile and forgiving in the normal flight phases encountered during initial training, when used foraerobatic and formation training, the Tiger Moth required definite skill and concentration to performwell.A botched manoeuvre could easily cause the aircraft to stall or spin.

Percival Leggett trained on Tiger Moths during the Second World War in Cambridgeshire:“The Tiger Moth is easy to fly. No vicious tendencies at all. It’s very responsive to the controls.Most people, I think, found landing rather tricky, because…it is quite a small aeroplane, with a very smallundercarriage. It is very close to the ground. And coming in to land one finds it difficult to decide just atwhat point you should draw back the stick to land the aircraft. Most people tend to start easing off toohigh, with the result that either the aircraft stalls or theymiss the airfield altogether.But that apart it’s a good aeroplane – very reliable. We did have one engine failure fromone of the pupils but hemanaged to force land it in a field. It’s a good aeroplane, and still flying today!”

By the start of the SecondWorld War, the RAF had 500 Tiger Moths in service. During a British productionrun of over 7000 Tiger Moths, a total of 4005 Tiger Moth IIs were built during the war specifically for theRAF.The Tiger Moth became the foremost primary trainer throughout the Commonwealth and elsewhere andremained in service with the RAF until it was replaced by the de Havilland Chipmunk in 1952.

Post-war, large numbers of surplus Tiger Moths weremade available for sale to flying clubs and privateindividuals. Inexpensive to operate, the aircraft took on new civilian roles including aerial advertising, airambulance, aerobatic performer, crop duster and glider tug.