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The Abingdon Fayre has now truly established itself as the season opener. Though it started as a country fair with a small fly-in and air display attached, the enthusiastic team lead by Neil Porter grown the event into one of the major avaition events of the summer, whilst retaining it's country fair feel. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK Dug out the camera bag for the start of the new season. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

Supporting Cast - Civilian
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Supporting Cast - Military
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The long winter months are over - May Day Bank Holiday traditionally sees the first airshows of the season take place much to the relief of enthusiasts around the country and this year only Abingdon had sole responsibility for kick starting the new season. Unfortuneatly, no one seemed to let the weather gods know this so Abingdon was shrouded in overcast for pretty much the whole day, though thankfully it didn't rain. The slightly dodgy weather around the country meant there were some disappointments for the fly in and the display, notably Paul Ambrose was unable to make it in his Pitts Special to participate in the display. However a number of interesting vintage aircraft, classic jets and even a few military types made it to Abingdon.

The show itself was slightly different than that staged in 2005. The flying display line reverted back to the north-south runway rather than the east-west line we saw last year. Overall, this was a positive step as though the east-west runway provided better light for photography it felt all a bit squashed in. It also meant the entrance could be located back to it's usual position rather than in front of several houses. One of the very few minor niggles I noticed and noted on the various airshow message boards was the speed of ticket sales - it just seemed a little slow. Abingdon attracts a large crowd and it did seem to take a little too long to actually pay! Overall, the show is extremely well organised and good value for money - £7 pounds for an adult ticket plus just 60p for the programme that really had all the information you really need for a show. Proceeds from the show go to support the Helen and Douglas House Respice Centres that so far have received £13,000 from the last five events.

Getting In SHAPE

Star of the static display was the US Army UH-60A Blackhawk from Supreme Headquarter Allied Powers Europe. Based in Belgium, SHAPE is responsible for preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of NATO nations and states.

The fly-in took place all morning and threw up a number of interesting attendees. Taking part from the Royal Air Force were a Merlin HC3 from nearby RAF Benson, a Tucano T1 and a locally based Grob Vigilant T1 from 612VGS. The Merlin crew even displayed their "trophy" from last years event; the wheel that fell off the Chinook during it's display! Clearly the rivalry between the Chinook and Merlin display teams is going to be just a strong as last year! However the star this year was a UH-60A Blackhawk from the US Army at SHAPE, Chievres (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the only foreign military participant present and quite a coup for a show like Abingdon.

There were also a number of ex military types in the display. Notably there were two Jet Provosts in the static parks - the T5 based with Delta Jets at Kemble and a T3 from Newcastle. Also from the recent past was the T67M Firefly in former Hong Kong Defence Force markings which had displayed here last year. An interesting visitor was the former German military Piaggio P149D that is often seen at UK fly-ins. There was the usual gathering of Cubs, Tiger Moths and Chipmunks plus the Pembroke of Percy Airlines to round off the military theme in the static parks.

The static park was full of the usual vintage types seen at such fly-in but a stand out participant was a Issacs Fury wearing some RAF training colours. These replicas of the much larger Hawker Fury are becoming quite rare these days and certainly look the Part of a 1920's fighter!

The flying display opened at 2pm with what has become something of a regular at Abingdon, the 100sqn Hawk T1 display. Two years ago, the team became the first RAF fast jets to land at Abingdon since it closed as an RAF base back in 1992. The year, 100sqn have a new display pilot , Flt Lt Dunc Wylie who has developed further the more free flowing display.

Following the Hawk came something completely different, the Messerchmitt Me108 Taifun. Flown by James Pittock, the Me108 is quite a performer with very tight turns and topside passes and a very loud engine. The Messerschmitt was followed, or should that be chased off by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Hurricane IIc. LF363 was making it's airshow debut in it's new colours of 17sqn. The BBMF for last few years has kept it's Hurricanes in the colours of the units it shares RAF Coningsby with and the Hurricane is the fist to represent one of the new Typhoon units - No 17(R) sqn, the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit.

Another complete contrast followed, Martin West flying his Piper Arrow. This is actually quite a rarity on the UK display circuit in being a normal General Aviation touring aircraft. Martin actually uses this aircraft for touring, business and air to air photography work but he also puts on a display of surprising agility in the type with some really tight turns - something you don't often see such an aircraft do! A GA type adopted by the RAF for it's University Air Squadrons is the Grob Tutor T1. 2006 sees the Tutor flown by Flt Lt Chris Knight and his display is absolutely excellent. He keeps the display really tight in and is always doing something, usually rolling the aircraft though some interesting angles and some really well flown stall turns! More aerobatic madness came from Denny Dobson in his Extra 300. His routines are always impressive but his limbo and ribbon cutting display is his really party piece and he didn't disappoint with several limbo passes at almost no height before cutting all the ribbons.

A old friend under new ownership is the P-40M Kittyhawk now owned by Peter Teichman at Hanger 11, North Weald. Peter certainly knows how to fly his aircraft in the best possible way for the crowd to take photographs with plenty of different profiles and topside passes. It's just a crying shame that his display coincided with worst light of the day.

Penultimate item was one of the RAF's two Chinook HC2 displays from 18(B) sqn. It's great display building on the stunning display last year with more nose sown full stops and a very impressive wheelie-landing and reverse take-off. The Merlin Crew were disappointed not to add to their trophy cabinet however!

The last word was left to Andy Cubin flying Delta Jet's Blue Diamonds liveried Hunter T7. The display ended up being slightly longer than advertised as the undercarriage stuck in the down position on take off. Not to be deterred Andy flew a circuit and did a touch and go which seemed to do the trick before performing a typically polished display.

Abingdon Fayre 2006 was a superb start to the season and certainly seems to have be enjoyed by all. It certainly seemed to have a healthy attendance, both in terms of public entry and fly-in participants. The displays were excellent and well executed and there was also a very commentary from Neal Hancox. Hopefully, we should start the season here once again in 2007!

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