I was at Duxford on the Friday, catching up with some gossip, and the typical British school’s half-term summer weather of torrential rain and high winds were gripping the Cambridgeshire Countryside, along with the rest of southern England and Wales, and the forecast wasn’t looking too good for the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Bonus Day to be held on Saturday.
Fortunately the rain front had passed through by the time Saturday dawned but it was still very windy as I set off to Duxford to see if any pilots were brave enough to attend the LAA Bonus Day. The French sister organisation of the LAA, the Recreational and Sport Building Association, were to attend with about 50+ aircraft crossing the channel to celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the two organisations but they had wisely decided to cancel on the Friday.
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The Fighter Collection had their Curtiss P-40F outside for an airing and because of the GA visitor, had to park it towards the western end of the airfield where it was joined by the OFMC Spitfire Mk.IX which was doing some engine runs. Pete Kinsey took the P-40F for a longish test flight to the north of Duxford. Having landed and satisfied with the aircraft, he took off again for some aerobatics over the airfield.
Aircraft were already arriving for the LAA Bonus Day, where landing fees are half price and pilots and passengers have a discount for museum entry. The first aircraft in was actually French and had crossed the Channel. Although the wind was blowing along the runway, there were a few interesting and sharp intakes breath type landings as pilots tamed the bumpy conditions. In the end, about 30+ aircraft arrived and departed through out the day.
I had heard a whisper the day before that a couple of war birds might be flying on the Saturday but didn’t hold out much hope of seeing anything flying at all with the current weather forecast. How wrong could I be. Conditions were improving with the clouds thinning out and the wind dropping a bit, but only slightly. During the afternoon, all the Duxford based war bird operators had aircraft from their respective fleets flying.
The Fighter Collection Mk.XIV Spitfire had been extracted from the hangar and parked on the grass opposite the B-17. Stephen Grey, the owner of TFC, was the pilot. After a bit of an air test just to the north of Duxford, he returned for a spirited display of aerobatics over the airfield. It was nice to hear the growl of a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine in the air again.
In between all the arrivals and departures, the ARCo Harvard ‘Taz’ was earning its keep flying with Classic Wings as it took passengers aloft for a war bird experience. Carolyn Grace departed and returned in her twin-seat Spitfire. Following the engine runs, the OFMC Spitfire IX did apparently fly later that afternoon after I had left and the HAC Spitfire and Nimrod I departed Duxford for an air show at Cleethorps.
What potentially could have been a very quiet day at Duxford, because of the windy weather, eventually turned into a very busy day flying wise with a reasonably well attended Bonus Day with a bit of a war bird gathering thrown in as well. It was well worth the buffeting of the camera by the wind which made it difficult to follow the aircraft during the displays and although it wasn’t really cold, I did wear my gloves all day. Even during the summer, I still carry my gloves in my camera bag.
Camera Techie Bit at the End
Sony Alpha A580+ Tamron 18-270mm f3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Lens
Sony Alpha SLT A-35 + Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G SSM Lens