50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
 Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Saturday 5th May 2007


This was one of those events that will be remembered for a very long time
by the many hundreds who braved the occasionally overcast and breezy conditions at Duxford
. For an event that was not billed as a 'proper' airshow, it was certainly a fantastic way to lift the curtain on the 2007 season!

To celebrate their Golden Anniversary the entire Flight had moved to Duxford for the day
(anyone visiting their base at RAF Conningsby would have been very disappointed!) and was displayed, both on the ground and in the air,
with typical RAF professionalism and precision. From the parade-ground-style line-up which greeted visitors,
to the emotional mass flypast which closed proceedings, this was a super occasion which,
for a change in this day and age, briefly made me proud to be British!

After a chance for the public to walk the disply line free of charge and have their first close look at the new paint schemes adorning
the Lancaster and 2 of the Spitfire's, the display was broken into 3 segments.
First up was a tight 4 ship flypast and tail chase by the founding members of the Flight, Hurricane LF363
and 3 Spitfire XIX's, including PS853 which is now operated by Rolls Royce, but re-joined the team for the day! 
As they landed, the lovely Spitfire Mk IIa P7350 took to the air for a very special display with it's modern day equivalent,
a Typhoon of 29 Sqn. The Typhoon briefly showing its awesome power after breaking formation from its slower relative!
  After the first break, the Dakota took centre stage to act as the drop-ship for the RAF Falcons parachute display team.
 They landed right on target and lined up to salute the guest of honour,Battle of Britain veteran Gerald 'Stapme' Stapleton
(the flight's Spitfire MkIIa is now in the markings of the aircraft he flew during the Battle), as the Dakota passed overhead. Great stuff!

The finale was superb! A mass flypast of all the fighters in formation with the Lancaster,
followed by two more passes by the fighters, before a final 'sunset' display by the Lanc. Brilliant!
(Mark Preston)   


Old Warden Spring Airshow Sunday 6th May 2007

Taking place the day after the BBMF 50th Anniversary celebrations at Duxford,
my nine year old son and I had decided to make a weekend of it by also attending the Spring Air Show at delightful Old Warden.

This is a very special location, with an equally special selection of aircraft belonging to the Shuttleworth Collection and some private individuals.
Included within the Shuttleworth Collection are some of the very earliest examples of airworthy powered aircraft in the UK.
Unfortunately, the breezy conditions meant that these 'Edwardian Ladies' would remain safely in their hangar on this occasion,
but I was pleasantly surprised that the rest of the flying display went ahead as billed.
Considering the fact that many of the World War One era aircraft can have rather quirky handling characteristics even on a still day,
the skilful pilots deserve high praise indeed for their great flying.

Highlight of the show for me was my first chance to see the fantastic Bristol M.1C in flight.
 This is a superb replica of the WW1 monoplane and was a joy to behold as it curved gracefully around the Old Warden crowd line.
This show was also the first public outing for the Collection's Gladiator in it's new 74 Squadron markings,
 and the debut airshow display of Team Guinot (formerly known as The Utterly Butterlys!)
with 3 candy-coloured Boeing Stearman topped with ever intrepid female wingwalkers!
Much to my son's delight, one of the wingwalkers for this show was Zoe from the children's TV show Blue Peter,
who clung on bravely in her very fetching silver lycra suit!

A delightful day concluded with the more powerful machines of the Collection, the Hawker Hind and Hawker Sea Hurricane.
As ever Old Warden had managed to transport us back in time via the sights, sounds and smells (castor oil is used in the rotary engines!)
of the formative years of powered flight.
If you get the opportunity to attend one of the displays at Old Warden,
then I thoroughly recommend it. It has a unique atmosphere, fascinating aircraft and is always a great day out!

(Mark Preston)

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