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2011 UK Airshows : REVIEW

Throckmorton Airshow

Billed as the Midlands biggest "Help for Heroes" event and the premier combined emergency and military services event, the Throckmorton Airshow seems to have escaped the attention of many airshow goers, perhaps due to its usual clash with the bigger, more high profile RAF Cosford Airshow just up the road. However in 2011, the show moved to the day before the Cosford allowing us to squeeze in a visit on our way to the first RAF airshow of the year. In terms of airshows, it is a relatively small event based on the now disused RAF Pershore airfield.

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

RAF Pershore certainly has a colourful history. It started life as a civilian airfield in 1934 as the Worcestershire Flying School flying Tiger Moths, but was soon closed and the airfield turned over to the military first seeing use as a training airfield for Wellington Bombers, before becoming home to No1 Ferry Unit and an advanced flying school. The airfield was also used for Radar trials and as a base for Vulcan bombers during the cold war. More recently it has been used by QinetiQ for laser tests and even as one of the main burial grounds during the 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis.

Today the airfield is mostly disused, but it retained for use by the emergency services and other organisations. Therefore it is fitting that emergency services played such a prolific role in the airshow entertainment demonstrating road accident rescue procedures in the arena as well as large ground exhibits. The military too were out in force with an impressive collection of historic and modern armoured vehicles on display as well as personnel from the Army and the Air Force.

Aviation wise, the show started with a fly-in of visiting and display aircraft. Amongst the more interesting visitors was a RAF Griffin HT1 from nearby RAF Shawbury, a Max Holste Brossard in its authentic L'armee de l'air markings, Boeing Stearman and several light aircraft. There were also a number of visiting helicopters including a Swiss marked Alouette II, Gazelles as well as Jetrangers and Squirrels offering joyrides during the day.

One of the slightly more bizarre features of the show was the lack of a traditional crowd-line parallel to the main runway, thanks largely to the topography of the site. While for most visitors this was perhaps not so much of a big deal, for those wishing to get decent photos it probably proved to a little frustrating, especially considering the large communication towers between the crowd and the runway. Commentary was also another issue with speakers only positioned in a small central area! For those up at the far end of the display line, it was completely inaudible!

Frustrations aside, the show did have an impressive line-up of displays and flypasts, mainly from acts transiting to RAF Cosford. The opening display was from Neil McCarthy in his stunning Jet Provost T3 recently repainted in 1FTS display colours. Neil had to display in a nasty shower which affected the opening few minutes of the flying display but was still able to perform his usual graceful display. Following Neil was a rare solo display by a CAP10 aerobatic trainer flown by John Scott before Captain Boogaloo (Brendan O'Brien) got into the air for a crazy flying sequence in his Piper J3 Cub. The civilian display line-up was completed by the SWIP Team with their pair of Twisters display against a dramatic sky-scape. There was also something of a surprise appearance by the Yakovlevs wh routed overhead Pershore right at the end of the flying display.

The Royal Air Force contributed a number of items routing to Cosford. First of these was a flypast by Chinook HC3 from Odiham due for static display at Cosford. It was followed by the Tornado GR4 Role Demo. While in the online programme, the Tornadoes were simply billed as a 'flypast' the team in fact gave a full display of the role demonstration providing a great deal of noise! Later in the display, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire Vb made three passes in front of the crowd.

There was further historic action with the pair of SE5a replicas from the Great War Display Team and towards the end of the day when Anna Walker showed off Kennet Aviation's Seafire XVII on her way to Cosford.

Perhaps the most surprising participants were the pair of Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BA helicopters, one for static display and the other in the flying display; it is something of a coup for a small airshow to host international military participation, particular in these days of defence cuts. Sadly, the team's specially marked helicopter was unable to take part with some engine problems but they did put on an amazing display of agility in their spare aircraft.

Throckmorton was certainly an interesting event, both on the ground and in the air with some exciting participants and hopefully raised plenty of funds towards to deserving charities it supports.

Thanks to the SWIP Team

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