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Around the country, a number ofevents are appearing marrying air displays to popular classical music. They are proving a very popular and are helping to expand an industry that is otherwise struggling to cope with increased costs. One of the best know venues to host one of these "Flying Proms" is the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of author.

The Cast
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The Cast
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The concept of a Flying Proms seems so simple when you think about it. Music has long been part of an airshow commentary so why try to being live music and flying together? These events have been around for a while now but really haven't been taken too seriously by the aviation press or enthusiasts. They tend to attract the "professional proms goers" who are looking for that little extra from the concert or just families looking for something to do on a Saturday evening. The popularity of these events shouldn't be underestimated either. During the late afternoon long queues of people had built up eager to get a good spot to watch the concert and flying displays. It's little wonder that on the same evening as Duxford there were Prom events with flying display at Hatfield and Sywell.

Shower Dodging

Though not part of the Duxford Flying Proms. Carolyn Grace's Spitfire was due ti fly at Hatfield Battle Proms just west of Duxford. She arrived back early just escaping the worst of the weather

Early on in the day, the weather certainly looked promising for evening with bright blue skies dappled with fluffy white clouds; there was the occasional shower but nothing too worrying. Come Pilots briefing at 1830, the optimism took a real nose dive with a very heavy rain shower and a thunder clap right over the airfield; things weren't looking so good!

The flying display started at 2000 with the S-1 Swift glider and Extra 300L combine flown by Guy Westgate and Jon Gowdy. The first half of their display was flown to "The Big Country" while the rest of the display were accompanies by "The Blue Danube Waltz" and "ET." Next on were the Aerostars direct from another Prom at Sywell flying to "Strike up the Band," "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" and "Rodeo 4 How Down"

No surprises that "Ride of the Valkyries" and "Where Eagles Dare" signalled the appearance of a UH-1H Huey. The example from Duxford was G-HUEY from Mark Grimshaw's collection based at North Weald and it now wear full US Army markings. Mark also had a Jet Provost T3 at the show which was flown by Mark Fitzgerald to "Mission Impossible"

The final flying acts of the evening where the pair of Supermarine Spitfire Vb and Hawker Hurricane XIIc flown by Charlie Brown and "Rats" Ratcliffe. At any normal display the sight and sound of these aircraft is always emotive thanks to the Rolls Royce Merlin engines but adding in such classics as the "Battle of Britain March," "Aces High" and "Dambusters March" raises the hair on the back of anyone's neck.

The air displays just formed the first half of a very enjoyable evening. After the pilots had taken a curtain call and a short interval the band once again got things going again with more popular classics when behind them balloonist did a burner display (the grass being too wet for the canopies.) As you would expect, the finale was all the "Last night of the Proms" favourites backed with some spectacular fireworks. If you are looking to go to something just that little bit different then Flying Proms is certainly something you should consider for a relaxed but entertaining summer evening.

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