Duxford Autumn Airshow 2009


ATA Salute
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Sports Flying
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The Cold War
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The final full airshow of the year is Duxford's Autumn Airshow held in early October. Following a near washout last year, hopes were high for some pleasant autumnal sunshine to grace the Cambridgeshire venue. There were a very nervous moments wet weather hit Duxford the day before and overnight, but the weather soon cleared and by the end of the flying display, Duxford was enjoying some glorious autumn sun. Previous Duxford Autumn Shows have seen some extraordinary line-ups and some of the best flying of the year. On paper, 2009 looked no different. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. Photography copyright of the Author.

Belgian Viper

Welcome participants at the Autumn Air Show over the past few years have been the Belgian Air Component's F-16 Demo Team. Even under the overcast, display pilot Michel 'Mitch' Beulen put on a superb show in his F-16 complete with glowing afterburner

Duxford has seen a hugely successful season of airshows in 2009 despite the efforts of the British Weather. The season commenced in mid-May with the Spring Air Show which saw a varied line up celebrating the Best of British. That show was blighted by strong winds and squally showers. Moving into July, Duxford hosted the annual Flying Legends extravaganza which saw the like of Christophe Jaquard's Flug Werk Fw190 and the Horseman P-51 Mustang Aerobatic Display Team. September's "Duxford Air Show" also provided a varied weekend of flying with the likes of the Red Arrows and Hawker Demon.

And so to the Autumn Air Show. In the authorís opinion, these have been the best IWM Duxford airshows over the past few years, with some really exciting display acts taking part. The end of season atmosphere also helped make the airshow special with almost every act giving it's final display of the year before the long winter period of maintenance and training.

With 2008's rather wet Autumn event in mind, they were a few nervous moments of "Deja-vu" during the morning with some rather unpleasant periods of rain as showers passed over Duxford. However, the really poor weather soon cleared to allow a last chance dash on to the flightline walk before the start of flying.

The flying was opened appropriately by a Duxford resident, the F-86A Sabre from Golden Apple Operations and flown by Mark Linney. As ever, the Sabre put on a tremendous displays highlighting the aircraft's good looks and the primitive early American jet engine that powers it leaving great trails of brown unburnt fuel in the sky. Following the Sabre was John Elliot in his MT03 Autogyro; what a contrast! That contrast set the scene for much of the afternoon with a huge variety of aircraft taking part. Sticking with the sports theme, although on an entirely different level was Mark Jefferies in the Extra 330SC that he debuted in May. The 330SC is capable of some extraordinary figures in Mark's display which included an almost unbelievable knife edge take off and an awesome curving approach to land with smoke!

RAF Farewells

Two RAF pilots were saying Farewell at the Duxford Autumn Airshow. Flt Lt Matt Barker concluded his full season of displays in near perfect conditions while Al Pinner put on his final display as OC BBMF in the flight's new refurbished Spitfire IIa. To mark the occasion the pair flew a special formation.

AlsoAlso flying Extra products are the Blades with their Extra 300LP aircraft. The Autumn Air Show was the first time the team had appeared at a main Duxford airshow since they were formed in 2006. In total contrast to the potent Extras was Bob Grimstead's Fournier RF4D which puts on one of the most graceful displays on the circuit. Next year, Bob is planning to form a duo of these motor-gliders with a display very reminiscent of the Unipart Skyhawks team.

During the display, there were some interesting groupings of aircraft. One of those involved Golden Apple's Boeing Stearman flown by Mike Dentith, the Cosmic Wind flown by Pete Kynsey and Jeanne Frazer's Piper L4 Grasshopper. The grouping represented some of the lighter products to come out of America's aviation industry.

Another grouping commemorated the activities of the Air Transport Auxillary. The first group of aircraft in this "theme" were Mark Miller's Dragon Rapide and Air Atlantique's Avro Anson. These represented the Air Taxi and Liaison types used by the ATA in order the recover and deliver their pilots to the various airfields around the UK and beyond. The second grouping saw Anna Walker flying HAC's Hurricane XII alongside Carolyn Grace in her Spitfire IXT representing the important role women pilots played in the ATA during the Second World War. Though it wasn't the first time the two ladies had displayed the Hurricane and Spitfire together at an airshow (that occurred earlier this year at London Cityís Funday), it was the first time they had flown a formation together in public.

Other warbirds in the display included the Fighter Collection's P-51TF Mustang flown by Stephen Grey and the ever brilliant OFMC pair of Spitfire IX and P-51D Mustang flown by Brian Smith and Alistair Kay. The resident pair of T-28S Fennecs put on a fine display rumbling around the skies above Duxford while the Aircraft Restoration Company flew a pair of Chipmunks in a very different synchronised display of aerobatics. Further Cold War era types in the display were Kennet Aviation's Wasp and Andrew Dixon's Pembroke.

Two RAF display pilots celebrated their final displays in 2009 with a unique formation before splitting into the their solo displays. Flt Lt Matt Barker gave his final performance in his rather patriotic Hawk T1 before handing over the reigns to Flt Lt Tom Saunders for the 2010 display season. He joined Al Pinner, who was giving his final display as Commanding Officer of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Appropriately, he was also flying the debut display of the recently overhauled Spitfire IIa that has just emerged from ARCo's hangers in it new guise of Geoffrey Wellum's aircraft "QJ-K" of 92 Squadron.

There was more modern military action courtesy of the Belgian Air Component's F-16AM Fighting Falcon. The F-16 has been a regular feature of Duxford Autumn Airshows for the past few years, and Michel 'Mitch' Beulen put on a superb display despite some rather overcast conditions during his display slot.

The show, and the 2009 display season, was closed by B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B flying under a dramatic darkening cloudscape. It's been another tough year for Sally-B and her supporters but they have prevailed once again. We wish them well for 2010 and beyond.

So, that was the conclusion of another season of air displays and what a fine way to end with perhaps the best Duxford Air Show of 2009 barring a quite superb Flying Legends. 2010 looks like another brilliant year at Duxford with the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain being a core theme of the museum's activities.

Thanks to Esther Blaine and Gabriela Oblunda for all the help and hospitality at Duxford's Airshows throughout 2009.

The Warbirds
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The Lighter Side
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