Duxford Spring Show "Best of British"
Words and photography Mike Freer, additional photography Stuart Freer
This year’s air show season at the Imperial War Museum, got off to a very wind-swept start on Sunday May 17. The theme of the Spring Air Show was a celebration of British aircraft design throughout the years.
The day started cold and windy with a heavy morning shower. Fortunately, it remained dry during the flying display with some sunny breaks. Due to strong cross winds, some of the aircraft were unable to participate. One notable absence was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Lancaster was stranded in the Netherlands with an engine problem while back at RAF Conningsby, the Hurricane and Spitfire were unable to take off due to the strong cross-winds. A VC-10 of 101 Sqn, commenced the air show in grand style displaying its beautiful lines. A classic British design.
Though not of British design, there then followed a medley of some of Duxford’s based aircraft. The PBY-5A Catalina of Plane Sailing gave a very graceful display followed by the B-25D Mitchell ‘Grumpy’ of the Aircraft Restoration Company. In the author’s view, this was the “star” of the show as she gave a very spirited display. It was a very welcome sight to see B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ airborne again after all the engine problems that have plagued her in recent times. The Fighter Collection joined in the fun with its FG1D Corsair. Other favourites to display were a pair of Spitfires of the Old Flying Machine Company along with their P-51D Mustang.
Continuing with the British theme, a pair of Folland Gnats of the Red Gnat Display Team cavorted around a rather threatening sky. The tempo then slowed a little with a helicopter display given by the Westland Wasp of Kennet Aviation. Among some of the small number of lighter aircraft to brave the windy conditions, was a pair of Chipmunk trainers. A sight not often seen at an air show was that of pair of Brittain-Norman Islanders, which also braved the windy conditions.
The serenity of the local airspace was shattered with the arrival of a Typhoon of 29(R) Sqn; its afterburner illuminating the dark stormy sky. A Hawk T1 of 208(R) Sqn, also gave a flat display due to the low cloud. The other RAF contribution was that given by the Chinook of 27 Sqn.
The author wishes to thank Esther Blaine (Public Relations Manager, IWM) along with Stephen Reglar and Gabriella in the Media Centre for their kind hospitality.