The Flying Show held at the NEC in Birmingham on 1-2 December showcased a great variety of aircraft and businesses – from R/C models to aircraft engines and autogyros.

Centre stage was again taken by Paul Fowler’s project to build an entire squadron of Spitfire replicas, with each homebuild being taken on by a group of builder/pilots. The first of the twelve Mk26Bs appeared complete with engine and instruments, drawing a crowd of admirers.

Paul told Pilot that engine runs should be made early in the New Year and that kits two and three were on order.

Rivalling the all-metal Mk26 for attention was the diminutive side-by-side Sonnex. Pilot was particularly drawn by the beautifully finished Sensenich propeller fitted, as well as the sensible mix of analogue and electronic instruments.

The winner of the Icarus Cup competition for human-powered aircraft (featured in the October 2012 edition of Pilot) was also on display. Airglow was originally built during the 1990s and was restored by Dr Bill Brooks. Having won the inaugural Royal Aeronautical Society contest, the team behind the aircraft is now working to improve its control.

Rather more luxurious than this Spartan machine were the competing closed-cabin autogyros on display, sporting luxurious cabins and even car-like landing lights (have they night operations in mind, we wondered).

Meanwhile, the British Gliding Association’s stand was busy with power pilots feeling the pinch looking for cheaper ways of flying. The organisation had brought along a gliding simulator, as well as a privately owned, fifteen-metre (flapped) ASW 27 (provided by Husbands Bosworth).

At the Light Aircraft Company’s stand, visitors were treated to a demonstration of the Oratex covering used on the Sherwood Ranger. This lightweight pre-finished fabric can be repeatedly punched and even stood upon without tearing, tension being restored with one sweep of an iron.

Good progress has been made with LAA acceptance of the aerobatic version of the Sherwood Ranger, which while it will never be ‘Pitts-like’, will offer gentle loops etc for the more adventurous pilot.

Overall, the general feeling from stallholders was that the Flying Show has been a lot quieter than in previous years, but that it is well worth attending to remain in the spotlight.

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