The Duxford Air Show 2009


Competition Aeros
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Military Hardware
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Lest We Forget
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Kings Cup Racers
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The Duxford Air Show at the beginning of September is the Imperial War Museum's main family air show of the year bring in a higly varied selection of display acts from the around the UK and beyond. This year's show celebrated a wide variety of themes including air racing and competition aerobatics as well as bring a very new and exciting restoration project to Duxford alongside the usual fast paced warbird displays. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from the Sunday. Photography copyright of the Author..

The third of Duxford's annual airshow is held in early September. Traditionally, the show is usually a varied affair with Duxford's own warbirds joined by aerobatic displays and modern military displays to entertain the masses. This year's show saw themes that celebrated the World Aerobatic Championships (which had just been held in the UK at Silverstone), The King's Cup Air Race as well as a look at Hawker products and a number of American machinery. Unfortunately for the September show, the Fighter Collection still found itself unable to take part with it's UK registered aircraft due to techncal issues with paperwork (although it does seem the issues will be resolved very soon.) Also absent were the Old Flying Machine Company who are heavily committed to the Victory Show in Cosby and which was being held over the same weekend.

As is usual the flying displays at Duxford start after lunch giving visitors plenty of time to explore the museum complex. September 2009 marks the 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of the second world war. To mark the anniversary, Duxford has put together an amazing photographic exhibition of "Duxford At War." The exhibition includes a a wide variety of images depicting life at Duxford including a striking photo of the moment Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war with Germany over the radio.

The two days of the show saw a stark contrast in crowd numbers. Saturday saw displays from both the Red Arrows and RAF Typhoon F2 which attracted massive crowds. Both those items were committed elsewhere on Sunday and so it seems were the crowd with smaller crowd numbers and a little more space on the ground!

The show was opened by a couple of flypasts by a RAF Mildenhall based KC-135R Stratotanker of the 100ARW, United States Air Forces in Europe. Duxford and the Imperial War Museum share a very special relationship with the USAFE. Earlier in August, Duxford hosted the annual American Air Day, a community relations event featuring a number of current and historic american machinery. Volunteers from the USAFE have also helped restore and maintain the museum's own F-15A Eagle which sits at the entrance of the American Air Museum hanger.

American aviation was also celebated in the flying by a number of warbirds and classic jets. Making a welcome return to Duxford skies was B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B having missed much of the year with further engine troubles. Further piston power came from the Fighter Collection's P-51TF Mustang Miss Velma flown by Stephen Grey and Rod Dean in Kennet Aviation's AD4N Skyraider. The early jet age was represented by perhaps the last ever F-86A Sabre display in the UK in the hands of Mark Linney. The aircraft may be going to UK at the end of the season. On Sunday it was also joined by Jonathon Whalley in his Hunter F58a for a couple of formation passes and a break which were well received.

Sunday saw a couple of further modern military displays. The RAF's Hawk T1 is something of a regular feature at Duxford shows. It was a busy weekend for Flt Lt Matt Barker with two displays at Duxford and a further two at Portrush in Northern Ireland. The Hawk will also return for Duxford for the Autumn Airshow later in the year. The Royal Air Force also had the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight present throughout the weekend with the Lancaster, Spitfire PRXIX and Hurricane IIc.

The final and perhaps the most interesting military act was the Belgian Air Component's AgustaWestland A109BA anti tank and utility helicopter. The A109BA is a rare visitor to UK shows but it puts on a superb display highlighting the types profile and agility in a small space.

One of the real treats of the afternoons displays was a an all too rare appearance by two 1930 racing aircraft in tribute to the King's Cup Air Race. Pericival Mew Gull G-AEXF was joined by Roger Mills' Miles Hawk Speed Six for a number of flypasts before a simulated plyon race over Duxford Airfield. The Mew Gull in particular is an aircraft with fascinating history. It captured the world record for the fastest return flight between the UK and Cape Town in South Africa. Over the years it has had several owners and had rather a chequered flying career before finding it's way in to the capable hand of Tony "Taff" Smith.

Hawker Heritage

Making it's Duxford debut on the Sunday alongside HAC's Hawker Hurricane was the newly restored Hawker Demon. Restored by Skysport Engineering, the Demon is based with the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden.

The World Aerobatic Championships were celebrated by a collection of vintage types that at various points have been used in competition bvy various nations  For the benefit of the airshow the aircraft "competed" in a short aerobatics contest judged by Peter Jarvis. Pete Kynsey flew the Bucker Jungmann and was joined by Brian Smith in the Zlin 526 , John Harper in the Pitts Special and Mark Jefferies in a Yakovlev Yak-18A. The "competition" was split in to two halves:-  a "known" of three aerobatic figures followed by a short freestyle.

A special part of the display was given over to Hawker products. As well as the Hawk, there was a fine performance by Jonathon Whalley in his Hawker Hunter F58a Miss Demeanour. Jonathon always puts on a very eye catching and noisy performance in the jet even making a pass with the canopy open to wave to the airshow crowds.

However, Sunday also saw a very special aircraft join the salute to the Hawker lineage of fighters. The Historic Aircraft Collection's Hawker Hurricane XII was joined by Demon Display's newly restored Hawker Demon. The Demon is the latest Sydney Camm biplane to be restored and joined the Shuttleworth Collection's Hawker Hind as well as the two Hawker Nimrod's owned by HAC and the Fighter Collection. Waiting in the wings are further examples of these beautiful designs including a Hawker Fury!

Other acts to grace the skies on Sunday were the Gnat Display Team and the Aerostars. The Gnats put on a fine display and have been a highlight of all the shows they have attended with a well thought out routine. The same goes for the Aerostars who always manage to catch the eye and entertain an audience with big formations and exciting opposition and solo figures.

While many acts are Duxford regulars, Duxford provided an excellent day out with a eclectic mix of flying displays over the weekend ranging from canvas biplanes to the latest military hardware. Displays by the Hawker Demon and Belgian Agusta were particular highlights of the show as was the rare outing for the Percival Mew Gull. The next show to be held at Duxford will be the Autumn Airshow on October 11th.

The Home Team
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The Sound of Freedom
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