Duxford Air Festival is an annual airshow held over the Bank Holiday Weekend at Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. The ex Royal Air Force base was once home to fighter command squadrons in WWII and served as an active base until 1961.
Now, the airfield is home to the world famous Imperial War Museum, featuring exhibits of hundreds of commercial and military aircraft, as well playing host to some impressive airshows, including the Battle of Britain and Flying Legends airshows.
I visited the Air Festival on Sunday the 28th to experience the displays, featuring a variety of aircraft ranging from WWI trainers to next generation front line fast jets! All pictures were taken using a Canon EOS 700D with 18-135mm and 70-200mm lenses.
The line up at the show featured some interesting military types, including a RAF Mildenhall based USAF Osprey and an Army Air Corp Apache. While the Osprey did not fly during the show, the Apache Demo Team later displayed.
The main taxiway on the airfield doubled as the flightline on the day, with access to the display aircraft costing £6 per person. Access was available until 12 PM, when the organisers started to prepare for the flying display. Aircraft that were performing later in the display were close to the barriers, allowing good photo opportunities for those who wished not to pay the £6.
At 1:15 PM, the first aircraft got on the move. It was Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander G-AXUB, carrying the British Army Parachute Regiment display team, The Red Devils! They departed and climbed to an altitude of 4,500ft before the team jumped out to perform a fantastic display featuring a massive Union flag!
Next, the pace was turned up a little, as Tony de Bruyn of Bronco Demo Team performed a spectacular display with North American Rockwell OV-10B Bronco 99+18 (G-ONAA), painted in a German Air Force livery with additional stickers to relating to WWI, as a tribute to those who perished in the war.
The tempo was the increased again, as Flt Lt Ryan Lawton of RAF Coningsby 29(R)Sqn deafened the crowds with his Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4, ZK354. The display team’s hasthag of
#BringTheNoise2017 was highly appropriate.
Next up was a smoky display from the Breitling WingWalkers, the world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking team. Only two of their four Boeing PT-17 Stearman aircraft attended the show but their performance was still very impressive.
A treat for the eyes was Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 44-85784 (G-BEDF), named Sally B. She is the last airworthy B-17 in Europe, preserved by B-17 Preservation Ltd. For the flying display, she was accompanied by North American TF-51D Mustang 44-84847 (N251RJ)”Miss Velma”
The display then switched back to jets, with RAF liveried BAC 84 Jet Provost T Mk.5 XW324 (G-BWSG) and Royal Air Force of Oman liveried BAC 167 Strikemaster Mk.82A. The two jets performed a spectacular tandem display; a video from inside the cockpit of the Strikemaster Display UK aircraft can be found on the team’s Facebook page here.
Another classic then stepped onto the scene; Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina 43-3915 (G-PBYA) “Miss Pick Up.” The aircraft is owned by the Catalina Society and maintained at Duxford.
For the second time that day, the tempo was shot through the roof! The Armée de l’Air rocketed onto the scene with Dassult Rafale C 4-GL of Saint-Dizier – Robinson Air Base Escadron de Chasse 01-007 “Provence”. The two Snecma M88-2 turbofans pulled the French front line jet through the air at speeds just under Mach 1 through various rolls, loops and passes!
The final act, despite it’s rarity, did not attract much attention. Two Duxford based Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1As took to the skies, but there wasn’t many spectators left to admire them.
As the crowds dissipated, I walked around some of the other permanent displays at the museum, include a tribute to British jetliners; the BAC 1-11, Hawker-Siddeley Trident and Vickers VC-10.
Reflecting on the airshow, I was very impressed with the variety and power of the displays. Unfortunately, two scheduled aircraft did not fly, namely the Norwegian Historical Squadron Mig-15 and the Royal Navy Sea Vixen, which made an emergency gear up landing at RNAS Yeovilton the day before.
For those who are not so interested in the flying, there were plenty of food stalls and other activities. The fact that the show takes place at a historic museum rather than a regular airfield means there is a lot more to do. In the Airspace hangar, younger children could learn about the physics of flight and the development of modern day aircraft while their parents could stroll around the various aircraft displays.
I would definitely recommend the airshow to all aviation enthusiasts and any who just wants a good day out. Duxford Air Festival will return this time next year, while Meet the Fighters and Battle of Britain airshows are still to come in 2017. Find out more details on the Imperial War Museum website here.
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