A Slice of Life
The overcast day made the English breakfast and hot tea at the Abbington Hotel especially welcome, and got me off to an exciting day at the 2015 Flying Legends Airshow at Duxford. The weather report was for clearing by afternoon and I had my fingers crossed that the weatherman would be correct. Because of my reconnoiter of the area the day before, I was able to drive right to the correct parking area, off the A-505, just behind the American Air Museum building.
As I strolled down the midway I realized I was not going to be able to stand up all day and was going to need a chair. As it happened there were trade tents selling everything a visitor could possibly need for a day at the airshow. I bought a folding chair and set it up right at the front of the tarmac fence, which would give me an unobstructed view of the day’s activities.
The flight line of some 50+ aircraft was open from 9:00 to 12:00 to allow visitors to stroll down the line and “get up close and personal” with their favorite aircraft. After I photographed all the participating aircraft, I began a stroll thru the seven hangers full of restored aircraft and related memorabilia.
I started with the American Air Museum in Britain aircraft which had been moved from their usual hanger while it was being renovated. The museum has a great collection of beautifully restored aircraft, but I was a little disappointed that they had to jam them all close together to get them into the Airspace hanger. I could walk thru and see them up close, but it was impossible to get a decent photo of any of them. The aircraft and memorabilia displays in the other six hangers were great and took up the better part of the morning.
I ask a man at the information desk if he could tell me how many people they estimated attended this event, and he said, “We had nearly 20,000 yesterday, but with this weather the attendance may be down some today.”
At 12:00 the flight line was cleared of visitors and the two Tiger Moths and two DH-89A Dragon Rapide aircraft, which had been carrying passengers for rides since 9:00, were requested to terminate their flying and several aerobatic performances were put on to open the show.
I happened to be sitting next to Takashi Koreeda from Yokohama Japan, who was videotaping the event. He informed me that he had recently visited the United States and attended the air show at Chino, California. He was an avid airshow follower and told me that he wanted to visit the U.S. Naval Museum in Pensacola, Florida. We talked a little about museums and airshows and then suddenly he handed me a CD and said, “I just record this last week, you play on your computer.” All I could say was, “Thank you.” I gave him one of our Valiant Air Command Museum brochures and invited him to stop and visit our museum the next time he was he was in Florida.
At 2:00 The Flying Legends Airshow started with the “Spitfire Tailchase.” This was one of the most spectacular performances I have ever witnessed! Ten Spitfires and one Hurricane took off, in groups of four from the grass field, as so many had done in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. They formed up and passed over the field in one formation. The sound of those 11 Rolls Royce Merlin engines was music to my ears. Then they broke off into three groups and, in trail formation, performed the “Spitfire Tailchase” for the next 10 minutes. I was awed and amazed!
Try to imagine a child with a ribbon on the end of two sticks, one in each hand, making figure “8” motions. This is just what the “Spitfire Tailchase” performance was, except they were passing across the field, weaving in and out and up and down, in a crisscross pattern from four different directions at the same time. It was breathtaking!!! The YouTube video above doesn’t begin to capture the thrill of that performance!
—–To Be Continued—–