With a two-day air show coming up at Duxford over weekend, I decided to spend the Thursday and Friday covering any arrivals and practice displays that might take place. The highlight of the week end air show would be the one and only appearance in the United Kingdom of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration flown by Major Mike ‘Cash’ Maeder. Rumour had it that he would be flying practice displays during Thursday and Friday. There was also a rumour that the recently restored Mk.1 Spitfire/P9374/G-MKIA that had crashed on a beach near Calais in 1940 would have its first flight in 71 years in the hands of John Romain. Unfortunately he likes to do first flights after the museum has closed to the public and true to form at 19.00hrs local on that Thursday evening; P9374 took to the air for a successful test flight.
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As the Citi7 bus rolled down off the motorway roundabout towards the main entrance gate to the Duxford Museum in the early Thursday morning hazy sunshine, the TFC P-40B and T.20 Sea Fury could be seen parked out on the airfield grass. At the eastern end of the Jet Pan, near the ARCo compound, Lotus/Renault had set up camp as they were having another F1 testing day. I wasn’t expecting there to be much flying that day, which was confirmed as the hard runway, would be closed for their racing car to run up and down on. I had a slow wander around the hangars and picked up on what gossip I could from the engineers. As the usual area around the M11 end was crowded with vehicles and F1 groupies, I bought a sandwich from the restaurant and headed up towards the tank bank to have lunch, sitting in the hazy sunshine, and await the arrival of the F-15 that was due at 12.30.
There was a brief flurry of war bird flying as first the TFC P-40B, with I think Carl Schofield in the flying seat, took off and held to the north. Next up was the HFL Spitfire T9 with John Romain up front and comedian Al Murray, aka The Pub Landlord, in the passenger seat who had a twenty minute flight. This was followed into the air by the Catalina
Arriving at Duxford on Friday morning with a blue sky and the sun shining, there was a heavy haze hanging over this part of South Cambridgeshire that was going to make photography very interesting. The F-15 performed another practice display at 11.00 that was much more aggressive and more dynamic than the day before. So much so that the noise was setting off car alarms and making small children cry. Unfortunately the haze made most of the photos I took look like dark silhouettes. The Blades Aerobatic Team, flying the German built Lycoming powered Extra 300 LP carbon fibre aerobatic aircraft, were holding a corporate event on the grassed are of the ARCo compound. They, along with the T9 Spitfire, were up and down most of the day flying corporate sponsors and guests. They did a full display mid afternoon before heading back to their home base at Sywell. Stephen Grey took his newly acquired P-40F for a spin and his son Nick took the T.20 Sea Fury aloft for some aerobatics.
Following a practice display by the Armee de l’Air Alpha Jet and the run and break followed by a steep Khe Sanh type approach before landing by the 45(R) Squadron Beech King Air 200, the star attraction of the afternoon appeared. John Romain taxied out in the Mk.1 Spitfire/P9374 for only its second flight. He took off from the grass runway and headed north to return about 20 minutes later with a wheel’s down missed approach and then a landing.
Amongst the arrivals during the afternoon was a German registered Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign corporate jet, which I think is the largest Jet I’ve seen land at Duxford. It was staying overnight and departed after the show on Saturday. During the day a slight breeze had started blowing and by late afternoon the haze had gone and the light and blue sky facing east at the M11 end was glorious and wasn’t wasted with no aeroplanes flying.
A very enjoyable two days and it was worth staying late on Friday to watch the Vampires and missing the last bus from the museum home. Fortunately there is a bus stop in the housing estate opposite the American Air Museum and having stopped off in Cambridge for something to eat, it was dark when I eventually got home that evening.
which was on its way to the Northern Ireland International Air Show at Portrush which was being held over the same weekend as the Duxford show. The P-40B flew back to land but not after some aerobatics over the airfield first. 12.30 came and went and no sign of the
F-15. Apparently they were working to Zulu time and not local time so at 13.30 it arrived from the west carrying an array of weapons under the wings. The display was a bit quiet and sedate and several times you could see the pilot adjusting his routine to fit the rather tight confines of the Duxford air space. Apart from Classic Wings, not a lot else was flying so I left mid afternoon.
Stephen Grey took off in the P-40F again with Nick Grey following in the Hawk 75. They held off to the north while the Blades did their aerobatic routine and both came back later with individual aerobatic displays. The final act for the day was the de Havilland Vampire pair of a single seat FB.6 and twin seat T.55 of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. They lined up side by side and then rolled down the runway as if attached together for a beautiful and sedate routine in the bright early evening sun light.