We round up the latest historic aircraft displays and restoration news. This month features Duxford Air Festival, Abingdon Air & Country Show, Chino Planes of Fame, Le Temps des Hélices and more. Compiled by Peter R March and Paul Fiddian

Diversity at Duxford’s Air Festival

Variety was key to the success of the Air Festival on 26-27 May, with several unusual visitors and old favourites alongside a modest selection of Duxford-based warbirds. Each day’s 4½-hour flying display was staged under largely blue skies and it began with Thunderbolt G-THUN’s public ‘homecoming’.

For twenty years part of The Fighter Collection, P-47D No Guts – No Glory! went to the USA in 2006 but returned in early 2018. Now owned by Graham Peacock’s Fighter Aviation Engineering and repainted as Nellie of the 492nd FS, 48th FG, it gave a gentle aerobatic display in Stuart Goldspink’s hands.

TFC’s involvement included its FG-1D Corsair and re-engined Sea Fury T20 WG655, which formed a ‘power duo’ with Air Leasing’s Fury II ‘SR661’. With RNHF Sea Fury T20 VX281 also in attendance (alongside stablemate Swordfish II W5856) it was a great weekend for fans of Hawker’s potent piston-engined design.

TFC also contributed its Harvard IIb, one of eight examples whose multi-layered setpiece paid tribute to the type’s eightieth anniversary.

B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B and PBY-5A Catalina Miss Pick Up gave their customarily graceful displays, and there was the welcome inclusion of Aces High’s C-47A N147DC. The Skytrain, smoothly flown by Andrew Dixon, appeared as a taster for 2019’s ‘Daks over Normandy’ event that Duxford will part-host.

Contrasting with the RAF’s Saturday-only Chinook display, the French Air Force provided three items: its typically dashing Rafale C; sensational unlimited aerobatics from the Equipe de Voltige’s Extra EA330SC; and, on Sunday, the excellent Patrouille de France.

Best of all, however, was 46 Aviation’s delightful F+W 3605 ‘Schlepp’, this UK newcomer’s quite astonishing agility expertly demonstrated by owner Emiliano del Buono. John Romain’s magnificent routine in the IWM’s Spitfire Ia N3200 brought Duxford’s diverse season-opener to an end.


First at the Air & Country Show

Sharing pole position with Old Warden, the 19th annual Abingdon Air & Country Show on Sunday 6 May opened the UK’s 2018 airshow season with good weather and enthusiastic support from aviators, traders and a large crowd. Organised by Neil Porter and his hard-working volunteer team, the event skilfully combined a range of ground attractions, a morning fly-in and a three-and-a-half-hour air display.

Being the season’s opening weekend there were numerous debuts, not least of which was RN Historic Flight CO, Lt Cdr Chris Gotke’s first public display in Sea Fury T20 VX281 since his spectacular forced landing at Culdrose in August 2014.

Making its first ever airshow appearance, the two-seat Hispano HA1112-M4L Buchón ‘Red 11’ was flown by Richard Grace in a pairs routine with Alex Smee in the ‘Grace Spitfire’ ML407. The Buchón last flew in the UK as a camera ship during filming of the Battle of Britain movie in 1968, after which it was stored in Texas.

Having returned to the UK in 2016, it flew again in November 2017 following restoration by Air Leasing at Sywell. There were new paint schemes aired for the first time on the BBMF’s Spitfire TE311 (see ‘Old Timers’, June) and by Mark Petrie on his former Sultan of Oman Air Force Strikemaster 82a G-SOAF.

In a show full of quality performances, Rod Dean in Slingsby Firefly G-BNSR, Andy Moorhouse flying the RN Sharks team-painted Gazelle HT2 XX436, Nick Houghton in Beech 18 G-BKGL and Peter Teichman making his last Abingdon appearance in Spitfire PR XI PL965, were outstanding.

As a crowd pleaser, Rich Goodwin in his Pitts S-2S G-EWIZ ‘Muscle Biplane’ knife-edging at ultra-low level along the runway’s length to race a Jaguar F-Pace, took some beating. In contrast, the Catalina’s graceful flypasts, the Historic Army Aircraft Flight’s Beaver and Auster AOP9’s STOL performances and the gyrations of the Great War Display Team’s seven replicas, were all highly entertaining.

The morning fly-in included numerous types saluting the RAF’s centenary – Tiger Moth, Harvard, Chipmunk, Bulldog, Jet Provost T3A, Auster AOP6, Argus, Spitfire 26, and a No 47 Sqn Hercules C4 from nearby RAF Brize Norton. In addition, the 621 VGS Historic Flight presented its Slingsby Cadet and Sedbergh gliders in the static display.

Hopefully a large donation to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance charity will be the end result from this RAF100 tribute day at the once-major base that held the RAF’s half-century anniversary event back in 1968.

Report & photos: Peter R March


Shuttleworth’s splendid start

Where better than Old Warden, home to an unparalleled array of former Royal Air Force aircraft, to begin 2018’s official RAF100 airshows on 6 May? With the Shuttleworth Collection fielding all serviceable roundel-bearing types, plus extensive outside participation ranging from Olympia and Radar Kite vintage gliders to the RAF’s Typhoon FGR4, the Season Premiere was a worthy centenary commemoration enjoyed by a capacity crowd.

The theme was much in evidence on the ground, where several cockpit sections (Buccaneer, Dominie and Lightning), a STEM exhibition and current RAF machinery, including Puma HC2 XW212, joined the usual trade stalls and entertainment mix.

Typhoon FGR4 ZK318, wearing RAF100 markings, gave the flying programme a punchy start and a modern link but historic types then took over. In the calm air that later enabled the Bristol Boxkite, Avro Triplane and Blackburn Monoplane each to take flight, Shuttleworth’s WWI-era Avro 504K, Bristol Fighter, Bristol M1C and SE5a could all represent the service’s infancy.

Joining them to make its long-awaited public debut was the collection’s Sopwith Camel replica. Built by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops and first flown on 18 May 2017, it wears the markings of Camel D1851 Ikanopit, of No 70 Squadron in 1918.

The sight of BAE Systems’ Avro XIX G-AHKX in its new RAF Coningsby Station Flight livery was another first. It performed individually and joined the BBMF’s Lancaster and ARC’s Blenheim IF L6739 to create two unique formations. The Blenheim was displayed by John Romain in customarily stunning style and formated with resident Hurricane IP3717 and Sea Hurricane 1b Z7015 for a pleasing fly-by.

Other notable combinations included the ‘RAF CFS generations’ which grouped Tiger Moth, Tutor and visiting Bulldog T1 XX630; DH60X Moth and Blackburn B2; Hawker Demon and Tomtit and?from Duxford?Spitfires Ia N3200 and IX MH434.

Another Spitfire, the BBMF’s recently repainted TE311, offered several very engaging passes but Shuttleworth’s own Spitfire LF Vc AR501 was unable to participate, not having accumulated sufficient flying hours since its first flight to be signed-off for display appearances. However, the necessary airtime achieved, it stole the show at the venue’s first Evening Airshow of the season on 19 May.

Report & photos: Paul Fiddian


Tigers turn back the clock

A very special RAF100 formation overflew RAF Henlow in mid-May. De Havilland Moth Club members took the opportunity during the organisation’s Moth Flying Forum to put up a ‘100’ shape comprising sixteen Tiger Moths.

The Tiger 9 team’s aircraft were joined by seven more examples to honour the service’s centenary at an airfield even older than the Royal Air Force. Military flying at Henlow began in mid-1917, when 226 acres of farmland were acquired by the RFC to support WWI Western Front operations.

The UK’s airworthy Tiger Moth population grew by one on 3 May when DH82A T8191 (G-BWMK), owned by Kevin Crumplin, took to the air at Henstridge, Somerset. This, Kevin’s sixth Tiger Moth rebuild, was an eighteen-month project with a personal twist: T8191 being the aircraft in which he learned to fly.

Built by Morris Motors at Cowley in late 1940, it was initially used by the RAF as an instructor- and basic pilot trainer before passing to the Royal Navy at the end of the war.

Kevin encountered T8191 during his time with the Britannia Royal Naval College’s Dartmouth Flight at Plymouth-Roborough Airport, its home in the early/mid-1960s. The much-travelled Tiger Moth ended its service life at RNAS Yeovilton as part of the RN Historic Flight until withdrawn from use and placed in storage. T8191 was sold into civilian hands and registered as G-BWMK. Kevin acquired it in April 2012.


Chino Planes of Fame airshow

The annual Planes of Fame airshow at Chino, CA, held on 5-6 May in hot, dry weather, had – as ever – a superb line-up of warbirds. This year’s featured aircraft were Thunderbolts and Lightnings, and there were multiple examples of both on hand.

Two modern-day USAF A-10 Thunderbolt IIs joined a pair of WWII-era Republic P-47 Thunderbolts while no less than six P-38 Lightnings were present. Four should have flown but, with Jim Slattery’s newly restored P-38F ‘White 33’ refusing to start, it was left to Comanche Fighters’ Thoughts of Midnight, the Collings Foundation’s recently-acquired P-38L, and the Planes of Fame Air Museum’s P-38J Skidoo to conduct several unforgettable fly-bys.

The other Lightnings on the field were the Yanks Air Museum’s rare F-5G photo reconnaissance version, displayed statically, and Jack Croul’s P-38L Honey Bunny, which sat in Allied Fighters’ hangar. The same operator’s newly-restored P-47D Dottie Mae (see ‘Old Timers’, December 2017) was one of the two participating Thunderbolts alongside Planes of Fame’s P-47G.

Republic’s predecessor Seversky was also represented, courtesy of Planes of Fame’s AT-12 Guardsman – a two-seat trainer version of the P-35 fighter which directly preceded the P-47. The AT-12 accompanied the Planes of Fame Boeing P-26 ‘Peashooter’ in another magic Chino moment that brought together two of today’s rarest airworthy pre-war survivors.

With many other highlights including the one-off Northrop N9MB flying wing and GossHawk Unlimited’s PB4Y-2 Privateer, this was another great Planes of Fame event.

Report & photos: Nigel Hitchman


Sabre sweeps back

Barely four years after long-term IWM Duxford resident F-86A 48-178 (G-SABR) – the oldest flying Sabre – returned to the USA, the type’s classic, swept-wing planform will once more be seen in European skies.

French warbird operator/pilot Frédéric Akary has moved from one legendary North American fighter design to another. P-51D Mustang Moonbeam McSwine, which Akary had owned since 2012, is now with The Warbird Heritage Foundation in Waukegan, Illinois. To take its place, Canadair CL-13B Sabre 6 ‘FU-675’ (N80FS) is expected to have been ferried across the Atlantic via Greenland and Ireland and arrived at Mistral Warbirds’ Avignon facility by the end of June.

One of the 655 Canadian licence-built Mark 6 Sabres produced, it was among the 225 delivered to the West German Air Force, joining it in 1958. The Sabre was thereafter acquired by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm at Manching, with which it spent most of the 1970s before joining the late Ormond Haydon-Baillie’s collection.

After being stored dismantled in the UK, the Sabre was sold to Flight Systems – later Tracor Flight Systems – at Mojave, California where it was flown between 1979 and 1997. Numerous private owners followed, most recently Rich Sugden of Driggs, Idaho.

Akary says that the CL-13B will remain marked-up in the experimental camouflage scheme worn by Sabre FU-675 of the 461st Fighter-Day Squadron, 86th Fighter-Bomber Wing stationed in Europe during the mid-1960s. Equipped with a smoke system, it will be available for airshows across the continent.

Report: Paul Fiddian


The sun shines on ‘Le Temps des Hélices’

With near-perfect weather enabling virtually full flying programmes to be staged, wonderful La Ferté Alais, just thirty miles south of Paris, held its 46th Meeting Aérien on 19-20 May. The anniversary of WWI’s end brought forth a larger-than-usual contingent of representative types. Six of the UK Great War Display Team’s replicas joined the Salis Collection’s examples, with the splendid TVAL-built Bristol Fighter among them.

A unique formation extended the Armistice centenary theme as the Memorial Flight’s original SPAD XII accompanied a French AF Dassault Rafale in a widely-spaced but still remarkable formation. Not yet airworthy, the Memorial Flight’s Royal Aircraft Factory BE2F was perhaps the nicest aircraft on show. Reproduced from original drawings, it is a long-term project now nearing its conclusion.

A rotary-powered Blériot XI-2’s pistol-armed pilot demonstrated air-to-air combat’s earliest form by trying to ‘shoot-down’ a German-painted Leopoldoff L55 Colibri. Following on from four-ship fly-bys involving these two aircraft, a Morane H and the Lycoming-engined Deperdussin T replica, this was typically imaginative La Ferté fare. No Bückers, Stampes or Zlins paraded this year but a great MS317 formation trio and a US classics combine of Bellanca 14-19 Cruisemaster, newly-imported Spartan 7W Executive and two Stinson Reliants ensured that vintage civilian designs still played a part.

The Salis Collection’s Vought F4U-5N Corsair F-AZEG, which had been under restoration for over ten years and flew again on 9 May, was rightfully one of the show’s stars. The 1951-built former US Navy and Honduran Air Force night fighter featured prominently, giving a superb display in Baptiste Salis’s hands and leading four French Navy Rafales, a Falcon 10MER and Armor Aéro Passion’s MS760 Paris in an astounding Heritage Flight. As this formation overflew the airfield, two Morane Saulnier MS733 Alcyons passed beneath them from the opposite direction.

The Fighter Collection always gives good support and its involvement this time included the Curtiss-Wright Hawk 75 which joined Air Leasing’s two-seat HA1112-M4L Buchón ‘Red 11’ and Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ Spitfire FRXIV MV268 in a unique formation of French, ‘German’ and British WWII aircraft.

From Switzerland came Daniel Koblet’s MS D-3801 and the Swiss Hornet Display Team’s F/A-18C, flown individually and together, plus Hugo Mathys’s impeccable Classic Formation of DC3 HB-ISC and 3 Beech 18s. Trailing Chalair’s DC3 and two Dassault Flamants, they produced yet another standout formation.

Piloted by commentator Bernard Chabbert’s son Antoine, the family’s Lockheed L-12A Electra Junior, painted as Amelia Earhart’s L-10E Electra NR16020 from its role in the 2009 movie Amelia, was impressively well-flown.

Mixing solo displays with formation flypasts, the action-packed Vietnam War scenario involving two Douglas Skyraiders, an OV-10 Bronco, Cessna O-2 and debuting US Marines-schemed T-28B Trojan F-AYVF (which joined the French civil register on only the eve of the show) was very well done. This was a superb event?next year’s will take place on 8-9 June.

Report & photos: Nigel Hitchman


Cold War Jets refreshed

The most recent of Bruntingthorpe’s ever-popular biannual Cold War Jets Open Days took place on 27 May. A complete reorientation, swinging the axis round 180 degrees, away from the traditional Runway 24 approach area to the R06 (Gilmorton) end, gave the participating aircraft more room to stretch their legs, although at reduced speed.

Well attended by enthusiasts and public alike, the Open Day featured taxi runs from Buccaneer S2Bs XW544, XX894 & XX900, VC10 K4 ZD241, Victor K2 XM715, Jet Provost T3A XM365 & T5A XW290, Hunter T7 XL565, Canberra B6(MOD) WT333 and Lightning F6 XS904.

In addition, making a very welcome return to running condition after some years’ absence was former-Boscombe Down-based DH106 Comet 4C XS235 Canopus. Eastern Bloc representation came in the form of Aero L-29 Delfin 53 & PZL TS-11 Iskra 1018. To enhance the Cold War atmosphere, a small contingent of static airframes had been towed up to the display area.

The next Open Day is planned for 26 August 2018, so thanks must go to airfield owner C Walton Ltd for allowing this iconic event to continue.

Report & photo: Richard Hall


On the move

Spitfire PR XI PL983 (G-PRXI) made its first flight in seventeen years at Duxford on 18 May. The former photo reconnaissance aircraft, registered to John Romain’s Propshop Ltd, had been under long-term rebuild by Historic Flying Ltd. Built in 1944, PL983 was retained by Vickers-Armstrongs until 1950 when it went to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden and was on external static display.

In 1975, it was moved to Duxford for restoration that was completed at East Midlands Airport where it flew again on 18 July 1984. It spent several years in French warbird collector/pilot Roland Fraissinet’s ownership, passing to Doug Arnold/Warbirds of Great Britain in 1987.

After Arnold’s death in 1992, PL983 was stored at North Weald until its new owners Justin Fleming and Martin Sargeant moved it to Goudhurst in December 1999, flying again on 8 June 2000. Sadly, a year later, it was written-off at Rouen, France, during a forced landing accident that killed Sargeant. HFL acquired the Spitfire’s wreckage in 2003.

Immaculate F-6D Mustang 44-73822/N51BS Lil Margaret, a surprise addition to Sywell’s warbird scene, had its first flight on 22 May. The P-51-derived photo reconnaissance aircraft had arrived in the UK last November and been reassembled by Air Leasing for a new Italian owner. Lil Margaret flew to Headcorn that same day before arriving at Rob Davies’ airstrip at Woodchurch for further flight-testing.

Unfortunately, three days later it crashed in an aborted takeoff. Its owner escaped without serious injury.

DH60G Gipsy Moth G-AAHI is the latest vintage aircraft to join the Real Aeroplane Company’s fleet at Breighton. The almost ninety-years-old biplane tourer arrived at the Yorkshire airfield on 12 May.

Issued with its original C of A on 28 May 1929, G-AAHI had numerous pre-war owners that briefly included National Flying Services Ltd at Hanworth (London Air Park). It was stored at Broadway Garage, Bournemouth throughout WWII and into the 1950s but then pulled out to have its fuselage used in Gipsy Moth G-AAWO’s rebuild. G-AAHI’s remaining parts were stored once more until owner Nigel Reid started to rebuild it in June 1993. This work was completed some three years later.


Stop press!

Painted with D-Day invasion stripes and special markings to commemorate its unit’s centenary, one of the eight A-10C Thunderbolt IIs that stopped briefly at RAF Mildenhall in early June joined a flypast over the Normandy beaches on 3 June as part of the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The eight A-10s, operated by the 107th FS, 127th WG of the Michigan ANG, dropped into the USAFE base whilst en route to Estonia.


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