What a blast! Standing at any of the runway ends during the Duxford air shows is a stunning experience. Either you get to see the aircraft turning in onto the display line or they make you feel their massive horse powers while passing you on take-off. As usual action is guaranteed!
Where? Duxford, England
If you look around the airfield there are enough warbirds to fill two or even more great warbird shows on any airfield in ‘continental Europe’. But Stephen Grey and his “The Fighter Collection” always make sure that there is additionally to their own warbrids a topping on the cake and invite several other warbirds to compile a nicely themed flying program during the afternoon.
This year’s edition did look very promising, unfortunately however many of the planned attraction could not make it to Duxford due to very bad weather in continental Europe. Thus the show did lack the Ju-52 formation as the Lufthansa one and the “Auntie Ju” from La Ferté-Alais, France, could not make it over. This was also the case for a Spitfire, Mustang and Corsair from Max Alpha Aviation / Meiermotors from Germany.
A safer way to arrive was thus by road, safely packed into a container. This was made with the two star attractions in this year: Steve Hinton, who has a close relation to Duxford and is a regular visitor and performer during the show, was gracious to ship the world’s sole airworthy Boeing P-26 Peashooter from the “Planes of Fame” museum in Chino, California, to England. It did perform on the Saturday of the show, but due to unfavorable crosswind conditions had to stay on the ground on Sunday.
Another new addition to the sky was the TFC’s splendid Curtiss P-40C Warhawk. It was flying in the US before, but was this year finally shipped to its actual owner. As it could be witnessed during the show the bare metal scheme looked especially good not only with a clear Califorian sky or in front of some British clouds.
Apart from those two highlights it was business as usual, with numerous warbirds in the air at any time during the around 3.5 hours long lasting display in the afternoon.
It kicked off great with 11 Spitfires accelerating on the runways and forming up for some formation overflights. Within this information was a special highlight: 4 airworthy Spitfire Mk.I, the earliest of the successful Spitfire series. They were especially celebrated in a sole 4-ship formation before the tail chase of the remaining Spitfires began.
This started a continuos flow of piston engine-only flying displays, usually commencing with a formation fly-by before starting individual display.
Amongst them sight that not seem for a long time was a 4-ship Navy fighter formation, consisting of a Corsair and three Cats: a Wildcat, Bearcat and the Hellcat.
Alas the BBMF came over from its home base Conningsby to show the Lancaster, Spitfire and the Hurricane in their usual routine with a formation and individual solos.
Later on two P-51 Mustangs “fought” against two Buchons, the Merlin-powered Messerschmitts and the crowd was treated with the unique sight of the world’s only airworthy Gloster Gladiators in the air at the same time.
And looking to the big birds, Europe’s only flying B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” did fly of course, and as a first for Duxford in this year the sleek and elegant lines of the Breitling Super Constellation from Switzerland could be admired on the ground and in the air, and after being present with the P-38 Lightning and the Corsair in previous years the “Flying Bulls” from Salzburg, Austria, presented their B-25 Mitchel for the first time in Duxford at “Flying Legends”.
As the weather continuously improved on Saturday some more aircraft arrived, amongst them the warmly-welcomed Hurricane from France. It displayed on Sunday, making it apart from the BBMF the only Hurricane display this year. This did fill up the gaps in the line-up on the flight line a bit during a show, that unfortunately due to circumstances it could not influence did not fulfill all the expectations. However it once again was a great celebration of piston engine power, and even for the regular visitors of this event it was proved again that you just cannot go wrong going there!