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Duxford Autumn Show 2009
 
North American TF-51D Mustang - NX251RJ - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   North American TF-51D Mustang - NX251RJ - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXb - G-ASJV - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire TR Mk IXc - G-LFIX - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
North American TF-51D Mustang - NX251RJ - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   North American P-51D Mustang - G-BTCD - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   North American T-28A Fennec - G-TROY - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   North American T-28S Fennec - N14113 - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom
 

Duxford Autumn Show 2009

Words and photography Mike Freer, additional photography Stuart Freer

What a fitting way to conclude the UK’s air show season than a day spent at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, at their end of season Autumn Air Show on October 11th. On show were a wide range of aircraft dating from the Second World War to the present day and covering a whole range of types from a motor-glider to today’s current combat types.

The Autumn Air Show witnessed the swan song flights by two leading display pilots. Squadron Leader Al Pinner MBE concluded his seventh and final season with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and his fourth season as Officer Commanding and Flight Leader. What better way to bow out than to fly the recently overhauled Supermarine Spitfire IIa P7350. Having recently been overhauled and re-painted by Duxford based Aircraft Restoration Company; she is now in the markings of 92 Squadron.

In addition, Flight Lieutenant Matt Barker concluded his tenure as display pilot for the BAE Systems Hawk, with a fine display in an aircraft of 208(R) Squadron. Both Spitfire and Hawk flew in formation as a tribute to both old and new technology.

This year’s Autumn Air Show was a tribute to the role played by female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during the Second World War. To commemorate this outstanding service, the first simultaneous flight by female Spitfire and Hurricane pilots since 1945 was made by Carolyn Grace and Anna Walker – Carolyn flying in her Supermarine Spitfire TR Mk9 ML407 and Anna in Hawker Hurricane XIIa Z5140 of the Historic Aircraft Collection.

Guests of Honour were Mrs Freydis Sharland and Mrs Molly Rose, veteran ATA First Officers who were given a flight in de Havilland Rapide G-AGJG owned by D & M Miller before the show. This aircraft also flew as a salute to the ATA along with Avro Anson T21 WD413 of the Classic Flight Club.

Because of a shortage of male pilots to ferry aircraft around the UK during the war, the decision was made to use female pilots. A total of 168 female pilots served with the ATA flying 140 different types of aircraft.To avoid enemy interception, ATA pilots were not allowed to fly on instruments or radio communication and were ordered to remain “in sight of the ground and clear of cloud”. Having to fly in all weather conditions and to avoid barrage balloons and being shot down by their own side, called for the highest flying skills. It was a perilous mission that demanded nerves of steel and, sadly, 14 female pilots lost their lives including the illustrious Amy Johnson.

Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom
 
Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom   Percival Pembroke C1 - G-BNPH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom
 
Percival Pembroke C1 - G-BNPH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom   Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom   Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom
 
North American T-28S Fennec - N14113 - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom
 
Westland Wasp HAS1 - G-KAXT - Kennet Aviation - United Kingdom   Fournier RF4 - G-AWGN - Bob Grimstead   Boeing PT-17 Kaydet - G-RJAH - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   Cosmic Wind - G-ARUL - P Kynsey
 
North American F-86A Sabre - G-SABR - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   North American F-86A Sabre - G-SABR - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   De Havilland Chipmunk T10 - G-BXCV - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire TR Mk IXc - G-LFIX - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXb - G-ASJV - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom

North American F-86A Sabre 48-178 opened the show with an exhilarating low and flat display under a dark murky sky. Owned by the Golden Apple Operations Ltd; it is the world’s oldest flying jet fighter.

Continuing the jet-age theme was the General Dynamics F-16AM flown by Michel (Mitch) Beulen of 349 Fighter Squadron, Belgium Air Component based at Kleine Brogel Air Base. Once again, because of the low overcast, a flat display had to be flown, enveloping the aircraft in mist as it flew through the damp atmosphere.

The Fighter Collection displayed their immaculate North American TF-51D Mustang 44-84847 ‘Miss Velma’. It was due to appear alongside the Hawker Sea Fury T20 WG655, but this was noted in the hangar having its engine worked on.

The flying display covered all aspects of aviation and the smaller types were well represented with displays by the Chipmunk Pair from the Aircraft Restoration Company; aerobatics in Extra 330; a powered glider display by a Fournier RF4; the Cosmic Wind racer (one of only three built); a Piper L4 Cub and a Boeing Stearman bi-plane.

The Blades team flying four Extra 300LP aircraft gave a stomach churning display of aerobatics to thrill the crowds. The team consists of ex Red Arrows pilots Andy Offer, Andy Evans, Mark Cutmore and Myles Garland and is the world’s only full time civilian formation display team.

Westland Wasp XT787 operated by Kennet Aviation from North Weald provided the rotary element of the flying display along with a smaller Autogyro flown by J Elliot.

The distinctive sound of Wright 9 cylinder radial engines roaring to life heralded the commencement of an exiting display by a pair of North American T-28 Fennec aircraft flown by Radial Revelations. Both aircraft are ex French Air Force and displayed a high degree of manoeuvrability for such a large aircraft. Other radial engine powered aircraft displays were provided by the PBY-5 Catalina (43-3915) of Plane Sailing Catalina Operations and privately owned Percival Pembroke WV740.

The Old Flying Machine Company gave a great close formation display with their P-51D 44-13704 ‘Ferocious Frankie’ and Spitfire Mk IX MH434. The show ended with everyone’s Duxford favourite - B-17G ‘Sally B’, a fitting end to a superb Autumn Air Show.

The author wishes to thank Esther Blaine and Gabriela Obluda of the IWM for their kind hospitality during the author’s visit.

 
De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide - G-AGJG - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide - G-AIYR - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide - G-AKIF - Airborne Taxi Services Ltd. - United Kingdom   Hawk T1 - XX245 - 208 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
North American P-51D Mustang - G-BTCD - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   Hawker Hurricane XIIa - G-HURI - Historic Aircraft Collection - United Kingdom   Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk Ia - G-AIST - Sheringham Aviation - United Kingdom
 
Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 

This was the last air show of the year and was a most enjoyable event, though the weather could have been a little kinder for the photographers present. Most of the flying was conducted under a leaden sky, with the sun only appearing towards the end of the flying display.

There was a good selection of aircraft on view spanning the 1930s to the present day and the main theme was the role of the women of the Air Transport Auxillary ferrying much needed aircraft to RAF Squadrons during the Second World War – a role much overlooked by modern military aviation historians.

The commentary was performed by Colin Wilsher and Ben Dunnell and was both entertaining and illuminating.

This, the forth in the series of air shows at Duxford this year, was highly entertaining and well up to the very high standard we have come to expect from the organisers. Next year sees the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain so next year’s celebrations at Duxford are eagerly awaited.

 
Touchdown Rating - 4 out of 5
 
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