Abingdon Air & Country Show
Words and photographs Mike Freer, addtional photography Stuart Freer
The Abingdon Air & Country Show is a unique combination of an air show with ground events including vintage cars and transport; numerous craft stalls and even a sheepdog display which involved herding geese through a gap in straw bales. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not the best for an outdoor event with rain clearing in the morning and an overcast sky and windy conditions in the afternoon.
The flying display covered the whole spectrum of aviation from the civil air ambulance helicopter to the current NATO types. Historic aircraft were well represented and included a genuine D-Day veteran in the shape of C-47A Dakota 42-10082 “Drag-em-oot” operated by Dakota Heritage Inc. She has been restored in the original markings of the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron who transported elements of the 82nd Airborne Division from RAF Greenham Common on D-Day. Bullet holes are still visible in the Captain's seat and fuselage. The Aircraft Restoration Company T-28S Fennec - in the markings of a ground attack version operated by the French Air Force in Algeria - also gave a display of great agility.
The early days of the jet age were highlighted with superb displays given by Delta Jet’s Hunter T7A WV318 flown by Andy Cubin and the Vampire Preservation Group Vampire T11 WZ507 flown Matt Hampton ; possibly, the last airworthy Mk T11.
The RAF was well represented with aerobatic displays given by Flt Lt Bill Ramsey in a Grob Tutor; Flt Lt Tom Saunders in a Hawk T1 and Flt Lt Tom Bould in a Tucano T1. The Hawk T1 sports a very attractive colour scheme to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 4FTS at RAF Valley and the Tucano T1 has been painted in a Battle of Britain camouflage scheme and markings of Group Captain Brian Kingcombe DSO, DFC (Bar) of 92 Squadron, who was a Flight Commander during this epic battle. A VC-10 tanker and C-17A Globemaster III from nearby RAF Brize Norton made two very rare air show appearances while a Puma and Merlin from RAF Benson were on static display.
An exhilarating display by the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM brought the air show to a close. Unfortunately, due to a ban imposed by the Defence Estates, no aircraft were allowed to land. However, this did not prevent the OV-10A Bronco arriving for static display. Also on view in the static area was a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from HQ SHAPE – another aircraft rarely seen at air shows.