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The 2007 season has been significantly affected by the weather, but in the last few years Duxford's September airshows have all been weather affected. 2005 saw heavy rains while last year, the Spitfire 70th was all but blown away. It was therefore a refreshing change that 2007's "Duxford Airshow" saw settled calm weather, if a little dull.  Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of author.

Army Cooperation
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Mighty Eighth
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Modern RAF
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Dawn of the Jet
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Cosby Escapees
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The Heavies
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The Fighter Collection
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The Pilot Maker
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Team Swift
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Knights of the Sky
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The September shows held at Duxford are amongst the most popular on the circuit and usually feature a fine selection of aircraft. 2007 was slightly different in that the show had no overall theme to it but aimed to provide a varied mix of flying and aircraft. This created a different feel to the show  compared to previous September shows which have often focused on military anniversaries and have been much more formal occasions. There was certainly a "fun" feel to show with an eclectic mix of civilian and military types. The weather, which has been such a factor throughout 2007, was at least dry and fairly stable, albeit a little dull. At least it was an improvement on the near wash-out we all endured earlier in the season.

Return of the Reds

Making a welcome return to Duxford skies were the nine red Hawks of the Red Arrows. It has been a number of years since their last visit and they had an instant affect drawing in large crowds. With the overcast set in they were forced into displaying their rolling show  on both days. Sunday saw the team down to just eight aircraft after a the first few  passes as  Red 7 suffered a suspected bird strike which forced an early return to their base at RAF Scampton while the rest of the team continued without him. This lead to some quite unique sites at Synchro Lead (Red 6) performed on his own!

Despite the indifferent weather, Duxford enjoyed some of it's largest crowds for many years with the welcome return of the Royal Air Force's Red Arrows aerobatic team. The Reds weren't the only RAF displays on show. Saturday's show saw the inclusion of the Chinook HC2 though the heavy operational tasking on the support helicopter force denied a repeat performance on Sunday. The Hawk T1  displayed on both days and represented the only current fast jet participation in the display. Continuing their 50th anniversary season were the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with their standard three ship of Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane. It's starting to seem like their 50th Anniversary event, which was held at Duxford, was a very long time ago. This was a much reduced military participation in the display and reflects the changing times we are now in with fewer military aircraft able to participate.

With the lack of military participation, there were much fewer fast jets in the show. However, the civilian owned classic jets came up trumps. There was a wonderful solo display by Mark Linney in the F-86A Sabre from Golden Apple Operations. This aircraft is currently the oldest Sabre flying anywhere in the world and is thought to be the only A-model left flying.

Adding further to the jet powered participants were a pair of Hawker Hunter aircraft from the Exeter based Hunter Flying Club. The formation was led by the only airworthy Hunter FGA9 in it's original Boscombe Down "rasberry ripple"colour scheme. This aircraft was used in a number of trials in it's service career as well as carrying tanks of water to simulate chemical attacks on troops. Joining it in the formation was a Hunter T8B which currently wears a typical RAF camouflage scheme. During Saturday's display the Hunters made a surprise entry with a pair of Gnats from North Weald.

Another major difference in the display was the level of participation by civilian aerobatic acts. Continuing his busy year on the display circuit was John Taylor flying Ultimate High's Extra 300L in a display of unlimited aerobatics.

Another Extra 300L was flown in the display by Justyn Gorman, who incidentally was trained by JT. However, Justyn was towing Guy Westgate in the S-1 Swift aerobatic glider for the Swift Team's first display at one of Duxford's main airshows and they made quite an impression, not least for some supreme parking skills on the part of Guy in the Swift!

A new formation and sound in the sky was the pair of Yak-52 and Sukhoi Su-29 aircraft that form the Redstarz. The team's pilots are Peter Scandrett and Nick Barnard respectively. Nick has recently published a book called "How to fly a plane" which has been well received and he was signing copies at the show.

Duxford's shows always feature a strong historic line up and this show was no different. Represented the earliest air battles were the Great War Display Team with a pair of Fokker DR1 Triplane replicas, the Neuiport 17 and Sopwith Triplane replicas. As ever the pilots put on quite a show re-enacting a first world war dogfight over Duxford with plenty of smoke and close in action.

At the smaller quieter end of the scale were the Auster and pair of L4 Cubs. These were actually displayed very well with some low sweeping passes in formation. Moving up a gear were the pair of T-6 Texans from the Fighter Collection and the Aircraft Restoration Company and flown by Anna Walker and "Rats" Ratcliffe. The T-6 is all too rare on the display circuit these days after the heavy influx of various Yaks and Nanchangs after the fall of the cold war so it's always a welcome sight and sound at a show these days.

The Fighter Collection had an impressive showing in the line up with a trio of some of it's more interesting types. Leading the formation was collection owner Stephen Grey in one of his new favourites, the Curtiss Hawk 75A-1, a true survivor of the French Air Force in second world war and an impressive performer in Stephen's solo display. Joining the Hawk was the P-39Q Airacobra. Like the Hawk this is an impressive restoration that was led by Steve Hinton at Chino and flies in the airframe's original markings - "Brooklyn Bum." Third place in the formation was taken by TFC's  new P-51D-TF "Miss Velma." This was flown by Pete Kynsey and also joined up with Golden Apple's F-86A Sabre as a tribute to North American's designs. "MIss Velma" was part of the Operation Bolero II project that was attempted during July. Though the P-38 "Glacier Girl" that was joining the P-51 had to abort it's flight due to engine problems, the P-51 successfully completed the flight in time for Flying Legends.

Further piston fighters came in the form of Old Flying Machine Company's P-51D Mustang flown by Alistair Kay. His exciting and powerful routine was flown in tandem with B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B on Sunday after he had return from the Victory show at Cosby. Also seen over the weekend were OFMC's Spitfire IX and Spitfire Ltd's Me109J Buchon which were also appearing at Cosby.

As well as the B-17, there were a couple of other "heavies" in the display. Very familiar to the Duxford crowds was the PBY-5A Catalina or Canso from Plane Sailing. The weekend was a busy one for Plane Sailing with another show elsewhere within Europe as well as displaying at Duxford. Joining it was the C-47 Skytrain from Dakota Heritage and flown by the same crew as the Duke of Brabant Air Force's B-25. The C-47 was put through a very spirited routine with graceful steep turns and flypasts.

As is now a tradition at Duxford, the show finished with massed Hurricanes and Spitfires. The finale started with a duo display by a pair of based Hurricanes flown again by Rats Ratcliffe and Dave Harvey. As they display a formation of five (six on Sunday) Spitfires got airborne underneath before forming up behind the crowds. After a couple of passes the formation split in to a tailchase and a pairs formation aerobatic routine led by John Romain and was a fitting way to close the show in late afternoon light. The aircraft involved included Carolyn Grace's and ARCo's Spitfire T.IX aircraft, HAC's and TFC's Spitfire Vs and Spitfire Ltd's lovely Spitfire Vc Trop in it's stunning desert camouflage.

With the inclusion of the RAF Red Arrows in the flying programme and some half decent weather, Duxford enjoyed possibly it's most successful airshow of recent years. Other visitors to the show reported the crowds seemed well up on previous events. However, comment was made at the show and after that this was a very different Duxford September show to previous years shows. This could be accounted for by the reduced military participation but is in no way a reflection of some really great flying displays that took place over the weekend at this very entertaining airshow.

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