the duxford air shows
OK, some of you may have visited this page when there was only ONE Duxford Air Show on it, but now there's two, so you have to go through it ALL AGAIN. Yes you do. Especially the relations, who cannot escape me asking if they saw it or not.
As many of you may remember, we first went to Duxford for an air show on the 5th September - the official "Duxford Air Show". On the 10th October we attended another, this one known as the Autumn Show (and sadly the last one of the season). For the second show we made the tactical error of not getting there as soon as the gates opened......since we arrived about 2 hours later (still more than 3 hours before the flying started) we ended up in a section of the car park that was farthest from the only exit. This meant LEAVING was.........well, let's just say we listened to a lot of BBC Radio 1 (which I wouldn't recommend to anyone unless you use the words 'whack, phat, biatch, and herrrre' a lot, and/or take a lot of ecstasy) (Ecstasy the drug, not "I'm at Duxford, ohhh, the ecstasy!"). Just to complain a LITTLE bit more - the first airshow was swelteringly hot (35C, almost 100F on the tarmac) and the second would have been quite nice except for the gale originating in the Arctic. Anyway ;)
Duxford is about 30min drive south-ish of here, and is a truly wonderful place. I heartily recommend their website:
As well as the other parts of the Imperial War Museum (you can link to those from the above URL). They have done a superb job with their website, and I'm sure the rest of the physical sites are as good as Duxford (or rather as good as they can be without being based around aircraft). Anyhow, onwards - some of the commentary is unchanged, so sorry about that if you've read it before!
As we'd arrived quite early in the day for the first show, there was an interesting haze over the airfield.
This added a touch of romanticism to the B-25 "Grumpy".
A "Boneyard" Hawk (100Sq), taken at the first show. The Sea King in the background spent it's day shuttling aircrew back and forth from Cambridge (where the fast jets had to base out of) to Duxford.
Once it rolled around to 9-30am, the flightline walk opened up and we were able to get closer to the aircraft parked on the field. And speaking of the field, I fell immediately in love with the gorgeous expanse of grass airfield. Just look at it! It's perfect.
And speaking of perfect........
It doesn't get any better than this! This is the Grace Spitfire.....
Those of you interested in WWII aviation history will recognise the stripes on the Grace as being for aircraft supporting the D-Day landings. This particular aircraft was flown by a Kiwi (huzzah!) - Flying Officer Johnnie Houlton DFC who in this very Spitfire was accredited with the first enemy aircraft shot down over the Normandy beach-heads. It was converted to a two-seater after the war and has appeared in a few movies, including "Battle of Britain".
For the second show, they'd found a lot of people to dress up in period uniform to add to the atmosphere - an atmosphere that had already been improved by the addition of SEVEN flying Spitfires and a flying Hurricane! And speaking of Hurricanes.......
The trick with the dressed-up guys, like with small children, is in avoiding eye contact. It's best to point the camera at the aircraft, then quickly shift it over and fire from the hip whilst they're unaware. If you make eye contact, or let them see the camera pointing at them, it's all smiles and posing and chatting. Perhaps they're real aircrew after all ;)
Another interesting addition at the second show was the Sea Fury. It flew, but only for a few minutes due to the need to handle it with kid gloves - a very rare bird indeed.
Again at the second show, a Storch! This was impressive - partly because I've never seen one in real life before, and partly because of the nature of it's flying display. If it's speed you want, you DON'T want a Storch, but there's certainly something to be said for a plane that can take off in twice it's length and fly SO slowly no-one else in the air can shoot it down (although some kid on the ground with a slingshot might have a chance) ;)
Another of my much-adored aircraft types, this Air Atlantique DC-3 flew in whilst we were out on the fightline walk at the first show. Note the tyre smoke, which truly was accompanied by the "eewwkkk" sound of rubber meeting runway :) Lovely.
We were able to get closer to "Grumpy" during the open flightline time.
Oddly enough the gorgeous airfield can even make helicopters look attractive!
A bit of colour was provided by the "Utterly Butterly" Stearman wing-walking team.
The wonderful DC-3 looks even better in an artsy framed shot ;)
Takes a lot of blokes to pre-flight a Chinook. Oddly enough, for such an ugly piece of aviation, the flight demo of the Chinook was one of the best at both shows.
Considerably less activity involved in pre-flighting the classic fixed-wings, just a splash of fuel from the petrol tractor, whip off the cockpit cover, and they're good to go :) When they prepped, taxied and launched seven Spitfires together at the second show it was rather tear-provoking!
Here's an arty shot of the "Grumpy" framed by the B-17 wing.
And here's the B-17. Officially called the "Sally B", she still carries the "Memphis Belle" noseart on her offside - this was from the filming of the movie of the same name where Sally B 'played' Memphis Belle.
Another view of Sally B, this time of her 'correct' side as seen at the second show.
Another American, the P-51 Mustang. Jason insisted on it being here, so I insist on saying it was a flying dog until they put a British engine in it :)
Another good bit of work was the "Fighter Station" recreation the organisers had done. A very good idea.
Although more avoidance of eye-contact was necessary ;)
I was thrilled to see a Lancaster fly during the Duxford show - first time I've ever had the chance.
The Sally B also did a turn, and trailed smoke in order to salute her supporter's club (who were present in a big marquee). It's sort of odd that her 'salute' should feature an imitation of battle damage......it'd be better to drop some flour-bags out of the bomb-bay or something, surely?!
The Utterly Butterlys (Butterlies?!) bring less emotion than the classics, but are quite fun to watch.
Apparently the poor bugger in the back of the Chinook has to hang on very tightly whilst they do this, otherwise he ends up in the cockpit with the pilots (something to be avoided at all times).
The first show featured the aerobatics team, the RAF Red Arrows (flying Hawks).
Jason's very proud of that last picture! :)
During the second show, we didn't take any pictures of the flying display. This might seem odd, but really it was to just sit back (Friends of Duxford marquee and enclosure includes seating!) and enjoy the sound of it all. The highlight was the display by SEVEN Spitfires at once. The sound of that was.......pure delight.
As the show was over, some of the participants departed...... including two of the magnificent Spitfires.
And so I leave you with one last beautiful thought of Duxford: