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Always Look On the Bright Side..

Duxford Favourites - In the Air!!
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Strongest Allies
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On Her Majesty's Service
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Spring Sparrows
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The first in the Imperial War Museum's airshows at Duxford proved to be a trying time for everyone involved. The weather forecast was pretty rubbish and unfortunatly, it was absolutely right for once. Despite this there was a healthy crowd who took their chances with the wind and rain for what on paper promised to be really entertaining display. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK Reports. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

Outdoors at Last
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Scottish Heritage
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30's Style
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Just the Sort of Weather You would expect!
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The days leading up to the show made for depressing reading with a front of rain sat over most the Southern half of the UK thoughout the day of the AirSpace Show. The AirSpace show was designed to highlight the forthccoming opening of a brand new hanger depicting the history of aviation within Britain and Commonwealth. Though it won't officially open until Summer 2007 the final stages of placing aircraft within the completed hanger are about to begin. The final push to raise money to complete the hanger is alsp underway to overcome the shortfall needed.

Another major theme of the flying display was to have been a salute to the late Ray Hanna who sadly died at his home in Switzerland. A series of formations and displays were to have been performed to close the flying display to represent some of the many types Ray had within his log book. Joining the OFMC's Spitfire IX MH434 and P-51D Mustang were the Fighter Collection's FG-1D Corsair and F6F Hellcat. Also there were a trio of classic jets representing Ray's service days, Air Atlantique's Meteor NF11, HHA's Hunter F58 and Kennet's Gnat T1, the latter in the scheme of his aircraft around the time he commanded the Red Arrows. Sadly, the flying display was halted before the salute could begin - the weather condition were just deemed off limits.

Despite some really dreadful weather around the country many acts found a way through to get to Duxford for their displays. However, nNotable absentees were a trio of aircraft from the Army Historic Flight stuck at Middle Wallop and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for which the crosswinds at RAF Coningsby were off limits. It also meant that the BBMF missed at flypast at the Beckham's House in Hertfordshire which went to make the press because some ill-informed politicians thought it was because it may upset our European friends!

The flying display kicked off with a flypast of two F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath. After October's debacle it was good to see they made it over the airfield on time and in position for a couple of passes, one in formation and finally a loose battle formation at high speed. They were followed into the air by Duxford resident, Sally-B. the B-17G Flying Fortress making for a pleasant salute to American aircrews. The only other Duxford resident that made it in to the air for the flying display was Mark Miller's De Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide. It was joined by the Shuttleworth Collection's Miles Magister in a 1930's theme tableau. Also from Old Warden was BAE System's De Havilland DH60 Cirrus Moth flown by John Turner with quite some style dispite some fierce gusts of wind. The take off was quite something going into wind across the runway.

Eurofighter "Monsoon"

Star of the show for many was the first fully public appearance of the 2006 Typhoon Display, once again flown by Sqn Ldr Matt Elliot. It was the first time the Typhoon had visited a Duxford display and really represents the latest in British aviation technology. The 2006 display is a developed version of the 2005 version though as the flight control system is developed, there is some more that the aircraft can perform, notably some even more impressive turns. Matt timed his appearance at Duxford very well finding a suitable gap in the weather to perform a slightly shorter display than usual. The reason for the shorter display was unsurprisingly weather related. If  Coningsby became off limits as regards to cross winds, he may have had to divert as far as RAF Leuchars in Scotland! Though short, his display left a lasting impression, notably the vortices left by the aircraft creating vapour rings over the airfield way way behinfd the aircraft!!!

A much more modern yet historic trainer taking part was a Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1 owned by the British Disabled Flying Association. Flown by Pete Kynsey it put on a superb display of aerobatics despite the coniditions. The Bulldog will be visiting a few other shows around the country due the course of the season. It was also paired up with another Scottish Aviation product, the Twin Pioneer from Air Atlantique. The "Twin Pin" put on a tremendous display of slow flying and it's Short take-off and landing abilities. Another Cold War transport from the Royal Air Force was the Pembroke of South Coast Airways which managed to get it's display in just before the weather really worsened.

Making one of their first appearances at a full air display in 2006 were the Red Sparrows formation team flying four Chipmunks. Their display is a superb demonstration of formation flying in some very underpowered aircraft starting with and formation take off and a formation landing.

The most potent historic type to display was the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Fury. Appearing as part of the tribute to Ray Hanna, Paul Stone put on an impressive display just as one of the heavy showers started.

The RAF's promised participation was very notable for a Duxford show so early in the season. Sadly however, the Tornado GR4 was unable to take part after going unservicable at Cambridge Airport. However, the first of the RAF displays was the 100 sqn Hawk T1 display who probably had the best of the weather but was still restricted to his flat display. The other fast jet left in the flying was the Typhoon T1. Sadly, not in it's F2 guise but in the more familiar T1 but still giving a stunning display of it's agility. Also proving to be a something of an eye-catcher was the new "Tac Demo" from the C-130J Hercules C5 with some really tight turns and a demonstration of a Khe Shan approach at the crowd about half way through his display. By the time the Tucano T1 display the weather had really worsened and it proved to be the last display of the day and even that was cut short by a technical failure on the aircraft.

It was quite a depressing end to what promised to be a very good airshow with a strong line-up. Many thanks must go to all the pilots involved (and a I think in particular to those from the Shuttleworth Collection) who braved the elements to bring as much flying as they did in very difficult circumstances. Well done if you were in the crowd braving the rain too. Lets hope the weather improves for Flying Legends and the rest of Duxford's shows in 2006.

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