May 2018 saw the start of the magnificent Air Shows at IWM Duxford; this one in particular being The Duxford Air Festival. After a slightly hazy start in the weather, it wasn’t long before the sun was breaking through the clouds…. what a day we had in store. As always, Duxford delivers a spectacular day that makes you gasp in enjoyment, holds your breath in anticipation and fills your heart with nostalgic thoughts of war time days. The Spitfire in particular gives you that feeling of proudness and…… home.
A real British Classic is The de Havilland Tiger Moth. A nine plane display team flying with such precision and looking absolutely delightful as they fly in formation.
The amazing Breitling wing-walkers on the Boeing Stearmans was breathtaking. Honestly, how do they manage to stay, almost glued, to those wings? Precision acrobats and handstands were performed faultlessly and had their audience captivated.
Everyone was excited to see the special appearance, on Saturday only, of the Chinook. Everyone knows how valuable these heavy lift helicopters are in the war zone and how they will always have their place at Duxford.
Hurray for the Sally B, delighting everyone by the sheer size of the plane and carrying such nostalgic flying memorials of American Airmen of the past. Even the Douglas C-47A Skytrain has a filmstar background featuring in Saving Private Ryan after a previous life taking part in landings at Arnhem and later in the Berlin Airlift and then as a test aircraft. The PBY-5A Catalina was a reliable little plane and was conceived as a patrol bomber before being used in a variety of roles including anti-submarine warfare.
Duxford never fails to deliver when it comes to variety; from the audience captivating displays of the aerobatic planes orchestrating dynamic flying ability to the war-time planes such as the Harvards.
The lightning silver colour of the North American T-28 Trojan/Fennec with its yellow tipped wings has an engine note like no other plane. Then we have the FG-1D Corsair in navy with a yellow edged propeller and the Hawker Sea Fury and the Hawker Fury which, in particular, has very distinguished markings.
Then of course we have the almost whispering sound of the propellor of the Farner Werke as it almost glides up into the beautiful blue skies above Duxford. Very distinctive in its looks, but amazingly quiet; almost a wolf in sheeps clothing.
Then we had the wonderful collection of the Bremont Great War Display Team. These are fighter planes from WW1; the Sopwith Triplane, the Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a x 3 which was not as agile as the Sopwith but much easier to fly. The Avro 504K was not difficult to fly but needed very precise coordination of the controls. The Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c turned out to be virtually helpless as a frontline plane against the German fighters like The Junkers CL1, but was more successful as a night fighter. The Junkers CL1 even carries a dummy in the rear cockpit…. don’t worry though, he won’t shoot!
Flying the flag for Britain, in these little red, white and blue star painted Extra 330 SC planes from neighbouring Little Gransden, are the British Champions Global Stars Team. Their fantastic manoeuvres, somersaulting through the skies, left everyone cheering excitedly for the amazing show they were performing for us.
From across the water in France, we had a visit from the French Air Force who gave a tremendous solo display… the Dassault Rafale, a plane which has the ability to fly to 50,000 feet and with a speed of over 1000 mph, is the fastest participating aircraft in this weekends airshow. On Sunday we welcomed The Patrouille de France, one of the world’s oldest jet formation team, demonstrating their carefully choreographed and spectacular display of crossovers, manoeuvres and formation flying. Truly spectacular and a delight to watch. “Vive la France”.