I wasn’t intending spending two days at Duxford but as is the way with the British weather, a drought is declared and then it rains non stop for weeks on end to such an extent that the first display of the season at the Shuttleworth Collection was cancelled for the Sunday because of a waterlogged grass airfield. Also being a Bank holiday weekend, the weather wasn’t much better at Duxford with low, dark, rain threatening cloud and a cold wind blowing down from the north for Saturday and only marginally better for the Sunday.
(Move cursor over thumbnail images below and click for larger image. Click square top right to close.)
Late in the afternoon and in rapidly deteriorating light as very dark rain bearing clouds passed overhead, Mark Miller flew a couple of practice displays in his wartime camouflaged Scottish Airways Ltd liveried Dragon Rapide. After the first display it did start to try to rain and as the Cambridge bus had arrived at the museum bus stop, I called it a day.
SATURDAY: Having finished its winter servicing with OFMC, the Classic Wings Harvard KF792 was returned to the flight line and after engine checks flew on a test flight. The Plane Sailing Catalina is now sporting a shapely piece of nose art in the form of ‘Miss Pick Up’ which is based on art work carried during WWII on a USAF Rescue PBY/OA-10 Catalina 433915 which in turn was based on ‘A Bit O’Lace’ art work carried on B-17G 42-97976/D of the 447th Bomb Group.
Ground crew spent most of the morning tinkering with the B-17 getting it ready for the afternoon flying. ‘Sally-B departed Duxford with a flypast over the former RAF Bassingbourn, in tribute to the American bomber group personnel that were based there during WWII, before heading to Cambridge airport for a series of air tests and crew training before returning to Duxford and parking up again about 2 hours later.
The Fennec departed Duxford and after a lowish pass headed west for an overnight stay and on static display at the Abingdon Air Show..
SUNDAY: The Old Flying Machine Company P-51 Mustang/‘Ferocious Frankie’ was sitting out on the grass awaiting its departure time to transit down to Oxfordshire to take part in the Abingdon Air Show that was being held that afternoon at the former RAF Abingdon airfield which is now operated by the British Army and known as Dalton Barracks. It returned around three o’clock.
Although it wasn’t scheduled to fly, The Historic Aircraft Collection Spitfire IX was joined by the other two Duxford based aircraft of Hurricane XIIa and Nimrod II out on the airfield. The Hurricane flew first and after handling checks to the north, returned to the airfield for a short display. The Nimrod was Up next and although it taxied and held at the top of the airfield it returned to its parking spot, without flying, with presumably a problem of sorts.
Apart from B-17 ‘Sally-B’ being scheduled for a crew training flight on the 5th, I was intending to hone my skills on the 70-400mm G SSM zoom lens for the upcoming air show season on any other aircraft that might be flying that day. I was using mainly the Sony 70-300mm G SSM zoom lens on my A580 camera at air shows last year so after it’s sabbatical, and a bit of weight training, I’ve dug out and dusted off my Sony 70-400mm G SSM zoom and have it attached to the mirror-less Sony SLT-A35 as it will be for the rest of the year. Despite the lighting conditions and the lack of it at times, the combination worked very well in the very trying condition and should perform even better should we ever have some sunshine.