A new event on the Duxford calendar and with over 3,000 people attending that Sunday, it could become a regular feature in the future. The Spitfires on static display on the jet pan were the Spitfire 1A/P9374 of the Aircraft Restoration Company, Spitfire LF.Vb/BM597 of the Historic Aircraft Collection, Spitfire IX/MH434 of the Old Flying Machine Company and Spitfire TR.IX/ML407 from Air Leasing and better known as the ‘Grace Spitfire’. Later in the afternoon, apart from the Grace Spitfire, they all flew. Spitfire veterans were seated next to the aircraft and were chatting and reminiscing with members of the public. Spitfire Tr.IX/X4474 from ARCo was parked on the grass on the west side of the control tower and for the parting of £15, with proceeds going to the Blenheim Restoration Fund, members of the public could sit in it with a photo opportunity thrown in as well. On the hangar base outside Wing Co Joe’s Restaurant, a display of Rolls-Royce and other vintage vehicles were assembled and on the grass between the American Air Museum and the Land Warfare Hall was a display of classic cars. Scattered around the rest of the museum were book signing’s, re-enactors and historical groups and a vintage fair was taking place in AirSpace. The advertised Rolls-Royce owned Spitfire XIX, that is in the ARCo workshops, didn’t materialise and the only down side to the day was the weather which stopped a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire from RAF Coningsby, attending. Because of the rain that fell, I never made it to the classic cars concentrating instead on photographing the Spitfires under the changing lighting conditions.
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For a first event, and despite the rain, I quite enjoyed my day out. Hopefully the museum have seen the day as a success and will be holding another Spitfires, Merlins & Motors next year but with a few more Spitfires added.
When I arrived at Duxford, in the sunshine, the HAC Spitfire had just landed and the HAC Hurricane was just departing for its epic journey to Russia to attend the '100 Years of Russian Aviation' in Moscow. After the HAC Spitfire was parked up in the static display it was then a question of photographing as many record shots as I could of the line up as there was a dark, threatening weather front moving up from the south west which did give some very good photo opportunities with the gathering storm clouds in the background.
With whiter clouds and blue sky drifting up from the south west, the cockpit covers came off and Classic Wings with their Tiger Moths and Rapides, started flying again. The Catalina flew off to display at Old Warden and returned forty-five minutes later. On landing it was fueled up with over 26,000 litres of fuel as the next day it would be following the Hurricane to Moscow for the anniversary show.
According to the exif info on my photos, I was sheltering from the elements for about 70 minutes and when it was safe enough to go outside without putting on waterproofs, I made a quick dash back to the jet pan to see what photo opportunities I could get with wet Spitfires and reflections on the ground. The jet pan drains of water very quickly. Cockpit covers were on three of the aircraft but the reflections and moody sky more than made up for that. I wasn't the only photographer out there after interesting shots.
With it getting darker and darker, I had a brisk walk up to the ARCo Tr.IX for more record shots. There was a long que waiting for the opportunity to sit in it, but I felt the first spots or rain on my hands so I beat a retreat to Hangar 3 and Joe, an engineer with OFMC, very kindly let me shelter with his aircraft. Even with the rain, there was still a bit of a que waiting to sit in the Tr.IX so a decision was made to move the Spitfire into the hanger. I took the opportunity to get some close up shots of the P-51 'Ferocious Frankie'.
Around two o'clock, public access to the jet pan was closed and the museum staff removed the crowd barriers and the pilots and ground crew started preparing their respective aircraft for flying. The HAC and OFMC Spitfires were up first with a paired take off from the grass, paired aerobatics finishing with a paired landing which you don't see very often. This was followed a short time later with John Romain flying the Mk.1A for a superb piece of aerobatics that I just stood and watched.