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2010 UK Airshows : REVIEW

"Bugles at Dusk" - RFC Rendcomb

Programme CoverHidden away amongst the Cotswold hills is perhaps one of the most iconic locations for airshows, RFC Rendcomb. Rendcomb is home to Vic Norman's AeroSuperBatics company who are behind the world's only formation wingwalking display team. Rendcomb has to be one of the most idyllic aerodromes in the UK lovingly restored as it was during the First World War when the field was used as a training base for the fledgling Royal Flying Corps. On occasion, Vic and Anne Norman organise exclusive private airshows to raise money for charity. The latest was "Bugles at Dusk", a late afternoon flying display following by the Sounding Retreat by the Band and Bugles of the Rifles which raised funds for "Help for Heroes" and the Rifles Charity, "Care for Casualties."

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

It could not have been a better day for an airshow. Gin clear blue skies, excellent visibility and the stunning backdrop of RFC Rendcomb. Hosted by Vic and Anne Norman, "Bugles at Dusk" was perhaps the ultimate afternoon garden party event. Although very exclusive, the main aim of the event was to raise much needed funds for two forces charities, the very high profile "Help for Heroes" and the charity of the locally based Rifles - "Care for Casulties." Contributions also went to "The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum."

Help for Heroes was established in 2007 by Bryn and Emma Parry with the aim of supporting servicemen and women who are injured in the line of duty. It is non-polictal charity and non-critical - it is there simply to help. The growth of the charity has been phenomenal, there can be very few people who have not of heard of then in the UK thanks to high profile support from the The Sun Newspaper and patrons like Jeremy Clarkson, Ross Kemp and Major Phil Packer. One of the central projects for Help for Heroes has been the development of new £8 million Rehabilitation Complex at DMRC Headley Court in Surrey. The complex houses a superb swimming pool, two gyms and a research centre. It will provide a crucial centre for physical rehabilitation.

The Rifles formed in 2007 from from The Devon & Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire Wiltshire Light Infantry, The Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets. The Rifles trace their values and heritage back to the Peninsular War and the time portrayed in the TV series Sharpe. Then, as today, independence of thought and action were prized amongst the specialist soldiers equipped with rifles who were known as Riflemen.

The Rifles are the largest infantry regiment in the British Army with units based across the UK and Germany. The regiment includes two Territorial Army Battalions in the South West and South East of England.

3 Rifles Battle Group recently returned from the six month tour in Afganistan as part of Operation Herrick. During that tour, 30 men lost their lives and a further 90 injured, 23 being life changing. As a whole, the Rifles have sustained more casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other regiment. Their operations centred around Sangin with further resources at Kajaki, in Northern Helmand. The Rifles worked hard to win the hearts and minds of the locals to reject the insurgency. The Rifles helped build, open and support schools, health clinics and shops as well as helping local farmers to produce fruit rather than opium poppies.

To support thier veterans and current Riflemen, the regiment has it's own charity, "Care for Casualties." The charity provides financial and physical support for all those in the Riflemen family. During 2010, the charity is aiming to raise at least £1 million to safeguard the current level of benevolence to affected Riflemen and their families.

The "Bugles and Dusk" event started mid afternoon with a display of large scale radio controlled model aircraft. There were particularly impressive displays from a model of the Grace Spitfire and a Bucker Jungmeister.

The flying display proper was opened by the Joint Services Parachute Centre Free Fall Team jumping from an Army Air Corps Westland Lynx AH7 helicopter. With clear skies the Lync got the team to 10,000ft for their jump which included a long freefall. However, it was their landings that provided all the thrills and spills with the team members approaching the "DZ" and very high speed and skidding across the grass in front the crowd.

Sqn Ldr Ian Smith gave an excellent display in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire IX which set the scene for the rest of a very interesting and different flying display. There was further warbird action frmo Peter Teichman who managed to operate his P-40 Kittyhawk fropm the relative tight constraints of Remdcomb. There were also plenty of vintage types in the display with displays from a De Havilland DH84 Dragon, a Miles Gemini flown by Sir John Allison and a Bucker Jungmann flown by Yakovlevs pilot Peter Scandrett.

A more unusual sight was that of one of AeroSuperBatics' Boeing Stearman flown by Steve Hicks towing Guy Westgate in the Swift Glider. The combination was joined by Pete Wells in one of his Twisters for a very unique display by the Swift Aerobatic Display Team. Pete and Guy also appeared later in the afternoon with the Twister Duo displays which looked superb against the deep blue sky. Of course there was wingwalking which included a flight for Lt Will Dixon of the Rifles who was injured in Afganistan.

Howeber, my own personal pick of the day was former Red Bull Air Race pilot Steve Jones flying his recently refurbished Pitss S2S Special. His display was constant action, even when he departed off-slot for home! The flying was closed with a solo display by Matthew Boddington in his Fokker Triplane replica which is presented as one of the three red colored triplanes used by Manfred von Richthofen.

The final acts of the afternoon was the "Sounding Retreat" by the Band and Bugles of the Rifles. It was perhaps one of the more sombre moments of the afternoon and certainly the most emotional paying respect to all who have served and fallen in service of the Rifles and a fitting end to a superb event.  


We would like to thank Vic and Anne Norman for the superb event and the Swift Aerobatic Display Teamt

What did you think of the show? Which displays did you enjoy? What didn't you enjoy? Let us know on our Facebook page!



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