Spring Air Show, IWM Duxford


The Light Blues
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All American
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Generations Apart
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The Duxford Spring Airshow traditionally marks the start of the major airshow season with a large and varied display. Unusually for a Spring event, the show in 2008 was completely unthemed with the big anniversaries being held back for later shows. As in most years, it's the first opportunity to see many of the Duxford residents give a public display as well as a number of visiting acts from both civilian and military backgrounds. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

The lack of theme at this year's Spring Airshow didn't seem to dent the display line up to much with a number of the Duxford residents out on the flightline for the show. Sadly two of the heavies based at Duxford didn't make it. The Catalina was still being worked during the show and couldn't take part in the flying. Earlier in the week, the B-17 Sally-B took off for it's first air test with a new engine; it returned very quickly from that test with the new engine feathered after a significant failiure and the aircraft looks set to miss a number of early season appearances as the problems are rectified.

Thankfully, the rather unsettled May weather (unbelievably warm one day, freezing cold and wet the next) held off Duxford for day with bright sunny spells and a cool breeze being the order of the day. As with all of Duxford's shows, the morning sees the flightline open for the corwds to get somwhat closer to the display aircraft and take pictures with the famous backdrop.

The flying display proper opened with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with their standard line of Lancaster, Hurricane IIc and a Spitfire PR XIX. It's another busy year for the flight with the 90th Anniversary of the RAF being the theme of a number of national and local events. They were followed in the the air by the two Stearman  of Team Guinot for the first of two displays by the team. This first display featured two presenters from BBC's Blue Peter - Zoe Salmon and Andy Akinwolere. Later in the day they performed again, this time with their full time wingwalkers - Danielle Hughes and Lucy Foster on the wing.

Team Guinot flies Blue Peter

Team Gunot appeared twice during the afternoon's flying. Their later display featured the full time wingwalking duo of Lucy Foster who perfomed the Guinot Goose towards the end of their display. Earlier in the day, it was a pair of Blue Peter presenters on top of the wings of the Stearman - Zoe Salmon and Andy Akinwolere. Zoe had previously displayed with the team at a display at Old Warden last year but this was the first time that both aircraft had presenters on the wing.

The first of the Duxford based displays was Stephen Grey in his F8F Bearcat, an aircraft he clearly enjoys flying in his typically powerful display. Later the rest of TFC's cats, the FM2 Wildcat and F6F Hellcat displayed alongside the FG-1D Corsair in a typical Duxford style display of formation and solo aerobatics. As ever, one of Duxford's strong points is the variation of historic aircraft in the display line up and there were a number of very different historic aircraft in the show. Earliest was perhaps the Historic Aircraft Collection's Nimrod II which puts on a surprisly aerobatic display routine to those more used to seeing similar aircraft from Old Warden.

The naval theme was continued by the Royal Navy Historic Flight with their own Hawker Sea Hawk FGA6 and Kennet Aviation's superb Seafire XVII which gave an impressive pairs display before splitting into their solo displays.

The classic jet and cold war theme was continued with a couple of further displays. Andrew Dixon and crew gave another lively account of the Pembroke while Golden Apple's F-86A Sabre looked superb in the spring sunshine highlighted against the clouds. TFC's and ARCo's T-6 Texan pair were joined by Radial Revelation's T-28 Fennec for a display of world war two and post war american trainer aircraft.

The lighter side of historic avaition was also well represented. First of these displays was from Mark Miller's Auster Autocrat and Jeanne Frazer's L4 Cub both of which managed to stay well inside the airfield boundary during their display. De Havilland were also well represennted with the based Dragon Rapide G-AGJG and a apir of Chipmunks from the Historic Aircraft Collection. A interesting little displau (and we do mean little) came from a gaggle of Formula 1 racing aircraft. The display involved all of the Dukes of Cassutt in their Cassutt racers, a Taylor Titch and Pete Kynsey in the Cosmic Wind. The latter showing off the aerobatic prowess of these little machines. Also giving a fine aerobatic display was Anna Walker in her Bucker Jungmann.

Duxford also marked the first display that the Royal Air Force was out in force. The Chinook HC2 finally made it's 2008 display debut at Duxford. The 2008 display sequence is identical to that flown last year and the display team are only visiting a few select airshows this year due to the commitments of the support helicopters. The Hawk T1 solo was also making one it's first appearances of the year in what could be the last yeat we see a solo Hawk on the circuit. The Hawk was joined by the Tucano T1 display from RAF Linton on Ouse in it's anniversary display scheme. Perhaps the star of the show was the Typhoon F2 display flown by Flt Lt Charlie Matthews. Without doubt, it's the best showing yet by a Typhoon in RAF service showing off yet more of the capabilities of the RAF's latest fighter,

The display was closed ny a trio of Spitfires led by Charlie Brown in HAC's Spitfire Vb. Tailchasing alongside Charlie was Carloyn Grace in her Spitfire IXT and Lee Proudfoot in OFMC Spitfire IX. While this certainly wasn't one of Duxford's greatest ever lineup it was a good start to the season of displays at Duxford. The next display will the annual Flying Legends display heldover the 12th-13th July.

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