Seething Charity Air Day


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Seething Charity Air Day is one a series of charming small airshows held around East Anglia each year. The show raises money for the East Anglian Air Ambulace and other local charities. Seething is a small privately owned airfield staffed by volunteers. Like many airfields in the area, it traces it's history back to the second world war and the USAAF. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. Photography copyright of the Author.

2009 was the 9th instalment of the Charity Air Day. The show prides itself on an unique friendly and relaxed atmosphere unlike many of the larger airshows. Seething was constructed in the second world war. Like many airfields in East Anglia, it was home to the United States Army Air Force Bomber - in Seething's case the 448th Bomb Group flying Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Following the war, the airfield was decommissioned and the land given back to the local farmers.

In 1960 Jimmy Hoseason, Dickie Boulter, Gordon Craik and Bill Wix wanted to set up a facility offering affordable flying to the masses. Some of Seething's infrastructure had survived so it was seen as the ideal place  - the Waveney Flying Group was born. It took four months to clear the airfield of rubble and scrap before the first aircraft, a Miles Messenger was brought in. At first the land used by the group was leased but by 1963, the group had started to purchase the land outright and constructed a club house. However, it wasn't until 1965 the airfield got a water supply and a year later that flushing toilets arrived! Airshows have been part of Seething's history for quite some time, and the airfield has even had the odd celebrity or two use the airfield when they were performing in Yarmouth.

Today the airfield is home to a busy general aviation community with modern facilities and hangers. Much of the work on the airfield is done by the flying club members themselves which all helps keeps costs down.

The Air Day is very much a "family day out." The small but perfectly formed showground has a wide variety of local trade and charity stalls, there was an impressive collection of classic cars and there was post show musical entertainment. The Control Tower museum was was also open for viewing.

Out on the airfield, as well as the visiting display acts, there was a large fly-in of general aviation types and microlights. The visitors could also take to the air themselves in Jetranger helicopter pleasure flights.

The flying display was opened by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight operating out of the Duxford Airshow just a few miles to the west. Unfortunately, the Spitfire PR XIX was suffering from technical issues so it was left to the Avro Lancaster and Hawker Hurricane to perform a series of fly pasts.

After the BBMF, there was a complete change of pace with the Laser Z200 flown by David Jenkins. The Laser is a purpose built aerobatics aircraft and is often seen at various aerobatic competitions around the country. While it's not quite as technologically advanced as the latest Extras and Sukhois, it's still a great performer.

Further aerobatics were provided by the Swift Aerobatic Display Team. Seething saw a shake up to the usual line up of pilots. While Peter Wells was in his usual seat in the Twister, Guy Westgate moved from the Swift to the Pawnee tug while Mike Newman took over duties in the Glider for his first public "Roll-on-Tow" display. Nigel Wilson was also on hand with his Yakovlev Yak-52 performing some stunning aerobatics and dropping the Ted Devils miniature parachute team. Nigel also formated with a Cessna 182 to showcase the Anglian Flight Centre at Earls Colne airfield. Also displaying as part of a general aviation theme was John Elliot in his MT03 Autogyro.

One of the most poignant displays of the afternoon was that given by a De Havilland Canada Chipmunk T10 and a Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1. The Chipmunk is based at Seething and was often flown by the late Ian Davies who was a prominent personality at Seething Airfield and supported previous shows as both the flying display director and pilot.  Ian wrote for Pilot magazine and was a member of the Red Sparrows Chipmunk Display Team. Sadly Ian died after a flying accident at Seething when he was flying in a Christian Eagle last year. This years show was dedicated to Ian and it was a special moment to see his Chipmunk displaying again.

There was a good mix of Second World War types in the display. Air Observation aircraft were represented by a Piper L4 Grasshopper and a Taylorcraft Auster flown by Leah Hammond. Both aircraft displayed the slow speed flying and agility required by these observation aircraft when spotting for the Artillary. Even on Seething's short display line the aircraft could position the manoeuvres within half the airfield before swapping ends.

Moving up a gear was the Messerschmitt Me108 Taifun. These aircraft were originally built for touring and sport-flying but were soon adopted by the re-emerging Lufftwaffe during the Second World War. They were used for personnel transport and liaison, and were often assigned to German fighter squadrons where the received similar markings to the Me109 fighters. The 108 was soon seen off by the final act of the afternoon, Maurice Hammonds fantastic pair of P-51D Mustangs, flown by Maurice and Dave Evans. Maurice is based at Hardwick, just a few miles away from Seething, where he has restored this pair of immaculate Mustangs.

Seething provided a hugely enjoyable day out, not least because of the friendly atmosphere. At just 5 per adult, it also was fantastic value for money with some superb flying and all the proceeds going to charity.

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