Situated about 12 miles northeast of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Sandtoft Airfield and the Sandtoft Flying Club played host to The British Aerobatic Association and their first competition of the year, The Icicle and Newbold Trophy. It’s called the Icicle as being the first contest of the year, it’s expected to be cold. After a heat wave the week before, the Saturday was breezy with a 20 knot northerly wind contributing to a cutting wind chill factor making it feel colder than it actually was. It was dark, cold and overcast with weather fronts passing quickly across the country but with the cloud base below the minimum for aerobatics the start time was postponed from 09.30hrs to 14.00hrs when blue sky started replacing the cloud cover.

The British Aerobatic Association Icicle & Newbold Trophy Competition ~ Sandtoft Airfield, South Yorkshire. 31st March 2012

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The aerobatic competition was to be split into two parts with Intermediate and Advanced pilots flying routines in the morning and afternoon but with the start time postponed until the afternoon it was then virtually non stop flying as the competitors tried to complete their two flying sessions before it got to dark in the evening for them to fly home. Most of the pilots free time was spent doing their little dance routines as the practiced and memorised their display sequences in their minds between bouts of drinking tea and coffee with an eye on the sky to see if the clouds would part any time soon. There were 16 pilots and aircraft registered for the event although a couple based down south couldn‘t make it because of the weather. The aircraft were operating out of Sandtoft but the display box was situated a couple of miles to the north over open farmland on the other side of the M180 motorway. For photographers, there was unprecedented access provided by the airfield. If you had a high-viz jacket and following a do’s and don’ts briefing, we were free to wander around the aircraft all day. Photos in the order they were taken on a Sony Alpha SLT-A35 & Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Piezo Drive lens.

RAF Sandtoft was opened as a satellite airfield for RAF Lindholm, which is about three miles to the east of it, in February 1944. Under the command on No.1 Bomber Group, No.1667 Heavy Conversion Unit operated out of the airfield flying Halifax and Lancaster bombers. In November 1944, No.7 Group Bomber Command took over ownership with the station eventually closing in November 1945. The airfield was put into care and maintenance and in April 1953 and was allocated to the United States Air Force but they never moved in. In September 1955 it was put up for disposal.

Most of the airfield is now given over to industrial units and storage facilities but The Sandtoft Flying Club use part of the old southern perimeter track as a 886m x 18m runway on a 23/05 alignment. Many thanks to my brother Trevor for airfield access for the photographers for the day and all the staff at Sandtoft who looked after everyone all day from the pilots to visitors and the congregation of photographers.