The 'Duxford Air Festival'
took place over the May Spring Bank Holiday weekend of the 25th - 26th May 2019.
The theme of the show was the past, present and future of the jet engine. On static display was a Gloster Meteor, which was the first British jet fighter and had two Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 centrifugal flow turbojet engines rated at 3,600lb thrust each, and by comparison, in the flying display was the Royal Air Force's current front-line combat aircraft, the Typhoon FGR4, which is powered by two Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofan engines producing 20,000lb of thrust each with afterburning. Martin-Baker actually still use this particular Gloster Meteor to test its latest ejection seats.
As usual at a Duxford Air Show there was plenty to see including the extensive museum which is free to look around on air show days and includes many warbird collections as well as jet-powered aircraft such as the Lockheed SR-71 'Blackbird' which was a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress which is a long-range, subsonic, strategic bomber powered by eight Pratt & Whitney jet engines, and an Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde which was a British-French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner that was operated from 1976 until 2003 and powered by four Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 Mk 610 Afterburning turbojet engines.
There is also a D.H Sea Vixen FAW.2, a British two-seat, carrier-based fleet air-defence fighter operated by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during the 1950s through to the early 1970s and powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon Mk.208 turbojets with 11,000lb of thrust each. Another exhibit at the museum is a Hawker Sea Hawk FB.Mk 5 which was also operated by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in the 1950s and this variant was powered by a single Rolls-Royce Nene 103 turbojet with 5,200lb of thrust.
These are just a few of the many exhibits at Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Besides the museum there was plenty more ground entertainment with the many stalls, the flightline walk, pleasure flights and military vehicle rides. There was also a chance to see Beatboxer Randolph Matthews who creates a live performance using jet engine noises and his voice along with some cool technology. There was plenty more ground entertainment and activities around Duxford for all the family to take part in.
The actual flying display took place from around 1pm and finished at about 5.30pm each day. Saturday saw the best of the weather with some sunshine however Sunday was colder with some wind and rain.
Starting the flying display on Sunday only, was a flypast of two RAF Lakenheath based F-15E Strike Eagles
along with a P-51D Mustang
'Contrary Mary' and a P-47D Thunderbolt
'Nellie'. Contrary Mary and Nellie flew together with the two F-15s following behind by about 100 yards. One of the F-15E Strike Eagles was a special 'heritage' painted aircraft (97-219, red tail) which features a chequered pattern on the nose, black invasion stripes down the wings, several national insignias and a Statue of Liberty painted on the tail. This is one of three Lakenheath F-15s painted in 'heritage' schemes this year to support the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings
as well as the 48th Fighter Wing legacy.
Flight Lieutenant Jim Peterson of 29 Squadron, RAF Coningsby displayed the RAF Typhoon FGR4
demonstrating the power and manoeuvrability of this impressive aircraft. With the retirement of the RAF Tornado GR4
last March, the RAF Typhoon has been upgraded to receive the Tornados strike capabilities including using the Brimstone ground-attack missile, Storm Shadow cruise missile as well as the beyond-visual-range air-to-air Meteor missile.
The Royal Air Force also displayed the mighty Chinook helicopter
which really demonstrates the power and manoeuvrability of this large twin-rotor helicopter which provides heavy-lift support and transport with up to 10 tonnes of mixed cargo or 55 troops.
This was a good chance to see and photograph the Grob Tutor
which is being replaced by the Grob G120TP Prefect in the elementary flying training Role. The Grob Tutor has been used to train pilots in the Army Air Corps, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force since 1999, replacing the Scottish Aviation Bulldog. The Tutor is relatively easy to fly, has side-by-side seating and provides a large cockpit canopy.
The Army Air Corps brought along their Apache AH1
attack helicopter which was last seen at the Duxford Air Festival in 2017. This impressive helicopter is a licence-built version of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. It differs from the AH-64D in having Rolls Royce Turbomeca engines, a new electronic defensive aids suite and a folding blade mechanism allowing the British version to operate from ships. Weapons include a M230 Chain Gun, Hellfire Missiles and CRV7 Rockets. A contract to re-manufacture 38 of these helicopters into the latest AH-64E version was announced in May 2017.
A welcome addition to the flying display was the Historic Army Aircraft Flight
with their Auster AOP.9
(XR244, G-CICR), Westland Scout AH Mk 1
(XT626, G-CIBW), Agusta Bell Sioux
(XT131, G-CICN) and De Havilland Beaver AL Mk1
(XP820, G-CICP). This team was initially partly supported by the Ministry of Defence and they maintained one example of each aircraft operated since the Army Air Corps inception in 1957. Ministry of Defence funding was withdrawn in 2013 and the team's aircraft were grounded until these four aircraft were transfered to the civil register which now rely on public support, sponsors and donations. The team are still based at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire and are now operated by the Historic Aircraft Flight Trust.
It was good to see the return of The Tiger 9 Formation Team display
again this year with their nine de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth aircraft. This is the only display team in the world to have 9 Tiger Moths in close formation.
One of the highlights of this year's Duxford Air Festival was the Breitling Jet Team
displaying in their seven high-performance Czech L-39C Albatros military trainer aircraft. This is the largest professional civilian team that perform with jet aircraft. The team are based in Dijon, France and the aircraft are superbly painted in a bold high impact black and grey livery with large white numbers on each aircraft. With the Red Arrows still finalising their training in Greece, it was good to see the Breitling Jet Team display at Duxford.
Another popular display team at Duxford was The Blades Aerobatic Team
in their four Extra 300 high performance aerobatic aircraft. The pilots consists of former Red Arrow pilots and one national aerobatic champion, Gerald Cooper. These skilled pilots perform exhilarating, close-formation aerobatics at airshows across the UK and Europe and they are the only team other than the Red Arrows that are allowed to arrive over the heads of the crowd.
The Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers
also took part in the flying display with their Boeing Stearman aircraft. As the pilots perform an energetic routine of loops, rolls, stall turns as well as inverted flight, the courageous and glamourous wingwalkers perform breathtaking acrobatics and handstands whilst strapped to the top wings of the aircraft. The aircraft reach speeds of up to 150mph and the girls are subjected to gravitational forces of up to 4Gs where they experience up to four times their normal body weight. The Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers Team have performed in the past under their former sponsor guises as the Cadbury's Crunchie Flying Circus, the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers, Team Guinot and more recently as the Breitling Wingwalkers but are now looking for a new sponsor.
The Baders Bus Company
is the first British disabled air display team. They are named after the World War 2 Spitfire ace and double amputee Sir Douglas Bader and fly the Piper PA-28 Warrior aircraft. The name of the team is derived from Douglas Bader's routine short transmission when arriving over the French coast in his aircraft 'Bader's Bus Company on Time!' which was intentionally short due to the need for minimal radio use. Sir Douglas Bader died in September 1982, following sackfulls of letters from amputees and other disabled he had visited and inspired over the years, begged his family not to let his inspiration die with him, so the Douglas Bader Foundation was launched on 1st November 1982. The foundation has since helped many amputees and disabled people over the years.
The Miles Trio
consists of a Miles M65 Gemini 1A and two Miles M38 Messenger 2A aircraft. The Miles Messenger was designed to meet a British Army requirement for a robust, slow speed, low maintenance air observation post and liaison aircraft, which had its first flight in 1942. When the Messenger was retired from RAF service many were converted for civilian use and flown by private pilots and business owners. The Miles Gemini was developed from the Messenger as a twin-engined four-seat touring aircraft and first flew in October 1945. These British aircraft were built by 'Miles Aircraft' at Woodley Aerodrome.
Returning to jet engine aircraft we had a display by a Percival Jet Provost T3
and also the Strikemaster Pair
. The Jet Provost trainer was originally developed by Hunting Percival in the mid-1950s and derived from the earlier piston engine-powered Percival Provost. A heavily armed ground-attack version was later developed for export called the 'Strikemaster'. The Jet Provost T3 was fitted with a Armstrong Siddeley Viper Mk-102 jet engine with 1,700lb of thrust and the Strikemaster was fitted with a more powerful Rolls-Royce Viper Mk.535 turbojet engine with 3,140lb of thrust. The Percival Provost which was to have flown with the Jet Provost T3 went unserviceable and was replaced by the Aircraft Restoration Company's North American Harvard T.6
'Taz' (G-BGPB) for the display.
Apart from the P-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt which flew with the F-15E Strike Eagle, Warbirds that displayed at the show included the B-17 Flying Fortress
'Sally B' (G-BEDF), Consolidated Catalina PBY-5A
(G-PBYA), and Spitfire Mk.1a
(N3200). Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 'Sally B', operated by Elly Sallingboe of B-17 Preservation, is based at Duxford and is the last remaining airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress left in Europe. This aircraft is a flying memorial to all the American aircrew who lost their lives in these aircraft during the Second World War. Keeping a four-engined World War 2 bomber in the air is very costly and they rely solely on charitable donations, sponsorship, sales of souvenirs, and the loyal support of her working team of volunteers as well as the 8,000 Sally B Supporters Club Members
Plane Sailing's Catalina PBY-5A also has a Catalina Society Supporters Club
which helps to keep this aircraft in the air. The Catalina was an American flying boat which was operated in World War 2 for anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions and cargo transport. The RAF also operated these long-range aircraft during the war mainly in the anti-submarine role for hunting down U-boats in the Atlantic.
Lastly we had the Spitfire Mk.1a
(N3200) display at the Duxford Air Festival. Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson piloted Spitfire N3200 on its first and only operation as he led his squadron on a patrol to cover the evacuation of Allied forces during the Dunkirk Campaign. He shot down a Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive-bomber, but he was also shot down, crash-landing on a beach at Sangatte, near Calais, and was captured and remained a prisoner for the rest of the war. His Spitfire was recovered from the French sands in 1986 and after restoration it flew again in 2014 and was donated to the Imperial War Museum in 2015.
Thanks to the 'Imperial War Museum Duxford' for putting on another great air show, and below are the dates for more events / air shows taking place at Duxford this year:
DAKS over Duxford - Tuesday 4th - Wednesday 5th June 2019.
Flying Legends Air Show - Saturday 13th - Sunday 14th July 2019.
Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show - Saturday 21st - Sunday 22nd September 2019.
Article by Dave Key with photos by John Bilcliffe - www.military-airshows.co.uk