2005 Edition





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Lest We Forget
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Training and Vodka
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The Little Gransden Air and Vintage Vehicle Show is now in it's 13th Year. Held to benefit BBC Children In Need and other local charities, the show is one of the most well known of the smaller "garden party" style events that have become so popular in recent years.  Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from his first visit. Photography copyright the Author

MSpit and Polish
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The Circus Comes To Town
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Modern Art
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The Emergency Services
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August seems to be a popular month for the small family airshow with several held around the country. Little Gransden traditionally holds the August Bank Holiday weekend slot and for the first time in many years didn't clash with any other major event. Little Gransden is another small farm airstrip in Cambridgeshire and is surrounded by legendary war time names like Bassingbourne, Hardwick and Duxford. As such, the show sets itself apart from many of the other events by including a short memorial service with the Royal British Legion as part of the of the main proceedings. However, it's not the wartime Gransden airfield which was home to part of the RAF's pathfinder force. That is slightly further down the road and is now home to Cambridge Glider Club who were holding their own competition the same weekend.

As the name suggests, there is also a healthy colletion of vintage vehicles of all types to wander around as well as a selection of trade stands. As well as a flying display, the show is a popular fly-in with a wide variety of visitors including Austers, Tiger Moths, Steen Skybolt, Bird Dog, Stearman, and a couple of the local emergency service helicopters: Cambridgeshire Police's Squirrel and the East Anglian Air Ambulance Bo-105 Bolkow. The latter was on the ground for a matter of moments before being called out on another sortie.

Mighty An-nie

Once a popular display act in the 1990's, An-2 Colts  made a rare flying display appearance at Little Gransden. Mark Jefferies example was joined by the "Baltic Bear" flwon by Dave Holland who demonstrated the unique characteristics of the world's largest single engined biplane including an atonishing zoom climb up at the end of it's display!

The show kicked off with it's first touring act, the T-28 Fennec of Martin Willing's Radial Revelations. This item seems to have dissappeared from the circuit this year with no appearances at some of the larger airshows which is a great shame for such a rare and interesting type. The T-28 was the first in an imaginative lineup of historic training types. Later on there were two very interesting formations of training types. The first represented the basic training types from the 1930's right through to the late 1960's with Peter Holloway's Ryan PT-22 Recruit on a rare display away from Old Warden, Dennis Neville's newly restored De Havilland Chipmunk Mk22 and the former Jet Heritage Provost T1 which now belongs to Alan House. The Chipmunk was immaculate and a very rare example of a totally civilian Chipmunk. For many years this example had served as De Havilland's demonstrator before being passing over to the general aviation circuit. The second formation was called "Vodka Formation" and consisted of Angie Soper leading in a Yak-50, Mark Jefferies in slot with his Yak-11 Moose and two T-6 Harvards flown by Rob Davies and Maurice Hammond. After several passes the formation split into it's components including a duo and solo show from each of the T-6s and a brilliant demonstration of the Yak-11's performance and agility by Mark Jefferies.

There was plenty of sports and general aviation flying at the show too. There was a very rare appearance by a Dart Kitten, a 1930's single seat sports monoplane that was actually built near Dunstable in Bedfordshire. An example of 1930's executive transport was provided by Peter Teichman's glorious Beech D17S "Staggerwing"  purring around the Cambridgeshire skies. There was plenty of 1930's style barnstorming with two different acts. First up was the highly popular Turbulent Team from the Tiger Club based at Headcorn in Kent. They were followed by Dennis Neville's Flying Circus consisting of Thruxton Jackaroo, Tiger Moth, Queen Bee and Chipmunk. Both acts literally had the same display of flour bombing, limbos and balloon bursting, although the latter did make rather good use of the hedge in the middle of the display line! Moving into the modern day, there was a rare display by a current general aviation type, Martin West's Piper Arrow which is a surprisingly agile performer. Further GA involvement came courtesy of the Coventry Aeroplane Club's Team Foxtrot who provided a relaxed display for varying formations. Aerobatics were well represented by a variety of types. Diana Britten gave her usual polished performance of gyroscopic flying in her CAP232EX in the wide blue skies. Justyn Gorman gave his usual tight performance elegant aerobatics in the Vans RV-4 while Mark Jefferies (again!!!) put on a truly amazing show in his Extra EA300 otherwise know as the Exxon Elite Twister over his home airfield.

Much more quiet and grace was offered by the Team Condor solo display of the K21 Glider belonging to the RAF Gliding and Soaring Association. Not only was it a quite brilliant display of gliding aerobatics but it's wingtip smoke seem to last forever in the blue skies which made the performance even more magical.

Of course, the stars of the show for many were the warbirds. Taking pride of place in the line up was Peter Vacher's immaculate Hawker Hurricane I R4118. The historic significance of this aircraft cannot be underestimated and is flown in a sympathetic way - this time by Battle of Britain Memorial Pilot Al Pinner. The Hurricanes performance opened the memorial service. After the service there was a brief appearance by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire Vb AB910. This was not a standard display appearance so the pilot was able some gentle topside passes often missed during their full displays which pleased the photographers very much. Following on was the BBMF's Lancaster which did do a full display this time on it's way to a flypast in Sheffield as part of an extremely busy season for the flight. Lancasters are pretty special to this area as Gransden Airfield was home to the RAF Pathfinder force during the second world war.

Rounding off the day in some style were the pair of P-51D Mustangs from Rob Davies and Maurice Hammond. Both are representative of units based around Cambridgeshire and East Anglia and hence have a special association at the show. Both Rob and Maurice are great display pilots and display these two aircraft in great style.

Little Gransden is a very impressive show that brings together some unusual aircraft not often seen at other shows as well as some of the most entertaining favourites. It was a great days entertainment combining some brilliant entertainment with poignant moments to reflect on the sacrifices of world war two, too often missed at other shows. Dave Poile and his team should be congratulated on producing a truly magnificent event.

 copyright Flightline UK 2005