With all the on-line tickets having been sold out and with the previous three days of wall to wall blue sky and continuous sunshine, a crowd of over 17,000 descended on Duxford for the first air show of the season. Fortunately the near perfect weather conditions continued into Sunday with a slight breeze taking the edge off the temperature and making the unusually hot conditions bearable.
With the official Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II taking place the following weekend, IWM Duxford paid its own tribute to the festivities with a Jubilee Air Show containing an eclectic gathering of aircraft from over the 60 year reign of the Monarch and a few airframes which also had a tenuous link, as in the same type as, to those aircraft flown in and by the Royals over the years. The all Red Chipmunk WP903 was the only aircraft with any actual Royal connection as it was used by Prince Charles for initial pilot training in the Royal Air Force before he went solo in 1969.
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The only down side to the sun shining, photography wise, was the harsh lighting conditions particularly with the static aircraft with bright dazzling top sides and dark black shadows underneath. With a two day air show also taking place about 30 minutes flying time away at Southend over the weekend, the RAF assets were being shared between the two venues and a few of the training aircraft had flown up that morning from there for inclusion in the flight line walk before displaying back at Southend.
The show started with a lot of noise from a Typhoon FGR4 from 6 Sqdn, Leuchars and with the twin afterburners setting off a few car alarms was followed the more sedate and quieter Duxford resident of Boeing B-17 ‘Sally B‘. This was followed by the Harvard pair from ARCo and TFC for a very nice aerobatics display. The Royal Navy were up next with a Lynx HMA8 of 815NAS, based at Yeovilton, for some agile manoeuvres and right on time the BBMF flew in from behind the crowd line for a bit of formation and then individual displays.
The Tutor, based at Cranwell, looked rather quiet, distant and high during its display but was quickly followed by the Hawker Trio of a pair of Nimrods and a Hurricane. It had been hoped to have the Fury flying to complete the 1930’s period trio. After a fly past, the Hurricane left the Nimrods to display together. The RAF returned in shape of a King Air B200, also from Cranwell, and the red, white and blue patriotically finished Tucano display aircraft from Linton-on Ouse.
For me the star of the show was the all silver Meteor T7 from Coventry. I missed it at the end of last year but that was more than made up for during it’s very quiet display as it glistened in the sun and contrasted nicely against the clear blue sky. The pace slowed again with a formation of piston powered aircraft with the Duxford based Rapide leading a pair of Chipmunks followed by an Anson. The Rapide and Coventry based Anson then did some formation flying and were followed by a Jungmeister and another aircraft enhancing its display trailing smoke. The Wasp was acting as an air taxi for the F-16 crew based at Mildenhall.
The Patrouille Cartouche Dore of the French Air Force were making their first public display appearance on the UK mainland and very good they were to with some close formation flying. This was one display that would have benefited from trailing a bit of smoke. As the red/white/blue display Hawk wasn‘t ready yet, an all black one completed the RAF display participation in the show leaving the way for a Spitfire finale to the Jubilee Shaow. Following a few formation manoeuvres it then developed into a Duxford favourite. A Spitfire tail chase.
A very enjoyable first air show of the year for me especially for the variety of aircraft in it, from the 1930’s to modern military fast jets, and a few first public displays by aircfraft and teams and of course helped by the weather being unseasonable kind for once.
For many the star of the show was the Belgian Air Force F-16 flown by Renaud 'Grat' Beulen. It was making its first public appearance at Duxford, in its new paint scheme, with a high dynamic display with plenty of noise and smoke and a few flares being popped off to add to the spectacle. With some more smoke but less noise, the Red Bull Matadors flyng their aircraft, designed purely for aerobatics, around the blue skies of Duxford for their first public display which was then followed by a search and rescue demo by an RAF Sea King from Wattisham which had been on stand-by for a call out all day. Fortunately it wasn't needed.
Camera Techie Bit at the End
Sony Alpha SLT-A35 + Sony 70-300mm G SSM Lens using what Sony call on the A35 the ‘Tele-Zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE’ Mode for the flying shots.
This is basically shooting continuously at high speed for fast action shots, about 7 frames a second although I only did about 2 or 3 frames at a time, but it’s a 1.4x crop of the centre of the sensor using 8.4MP instead of the full 16.2MP. I had tried it before but being a camera function you were stuck with the settings it gave you. Jpeg, 1/1000sec+ & F5.6. Or so I thought. After a bit of experimenting on the Friday/Saturday and a quick read of the Owners Manual, manual control is possible although a bit restricted and fiddly. A bit more practice needed. According to the camera exif info my 400mm zoom lens, with the sensor crop and 1.4x tele-zoom, had a 35mm equivalent of 840mm and my 300mm zoom an equivalent of 630mm.