Sunday, July 28, 2013

Flying Legends Airshow 2013 , Duxford, UK - Part 2

In part 2 of "The 2013 Flying Legends airshow" blogpost, we will have a look at the "flying" part during this amazing warbird airshow in the South East part of the UK.

This years flying display was opened by 75 year old Stephen Grey, flying the Bearcat to the tunes of Pink Floyd's "Shine on you crazy diamond". Stephen who is the airshow organiser, announced that he would be doing his final two flying displays (SAT & SUN) at Duxford. French commentator Bernard Chappert, made it a very emotional farewell of which I didn't even manage to frame some decent shots...

Some great images of Stephen and his good-bye display can be found at the great aviation site; Global Aviation Resource

Threeship Spitfire formation

Next, were the Bremont Horsemen Flight Team; they call themselves the only aerobatic formation team flying WWII fighters. In past they have mainly flown US fighters (P-51's, F-4U's, P-38's and F-86's) and this was the first time they displayed in Spitfires. Although the display on Saturday was a bit more conservative compared to some of their previous shows, the one on Sunday was apparently more varied. Having said this, seeing the great lines of the Spits and hearing the amazing sound of the Merlin engines, was already worth the price of admission!

Messerschmitt againts P-40

The flight-line at Duxford is quite long, and constantly being at the right place at the right moment is close to impossible... A Messerschmitt Me109 overflying a Curtiss P-40 starting up, is one example where it did work out!

P-47 Thunderbolt starting up

Large radial engines starting up, often come with a lot of white smoke. Catching that moment is a good photo opportunity... A shame the GA aircraft in the background, take away from the WWII feel of the shot.

Boeing B-17 with stormy clouds

Seeing Europe's only flying Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was a joy! Sally B, is based at Duxford and was used as Memphis Belle in the movie titled the same.

Hawker biplane formation

Another display I really liked where three rare Hawker biplanes flying in formation; one Demon and two Nimrod's. I was especially surprised by the very distinguished sound of these 1930's biplanes. In between a Hawker Hurricane ( see Pic(k) of the week 29 ), flew a solo display. 

Red Bull Corsair

I was hoping Red Bull would fly in their P-38 Lightning from Salzburg (Austria), but instead I had to do it with the Red Bull F4U Corsair. Its enthusiastic pilot made up for part of the miss!

Curtiss H75C-1 taxying out

Some of the aircraft being displayed are very rare; e.g. the Curtiss Hawk H75C-1 above, based at Duxford, is the only one of the type still in airworthy condition!

Aerostars fllying the Yak 50

Not part of the Warbird scene, but surely not less spectacular, were the Aerostars. A UK based team, started in 1997 flying the vintage Yak-50 in close formation. This award winning team is a must see for every aviation enthusiast!

Norway Dakota demo

I've seen quite a few Dakota DC-3 displays over the years, but the aircraft operated by  the "Dakota Norway" foundation, is by far the best one! It is a classic display where everybody walking from A to B, just stops and watches.

The above description of some of the airshow acts is by no means complete. There was a whole bunch more; each and every one unique in its own way. 

Traditionally, the last display of "The Flying Legends airshow" is the "Balbo"; a mass formation of most WWII fighters present at Duxford. On the Saturday, I was at Duxford, the formation consisted of 22 aircraft! What a sight...

Immediately after the airshow ended, we took off in our little Robin and flew under a blue sky in 1h30' back to our home base in Belgium.

Closing thoughts
For me "The Flying Legends Airshow at Duxford, is on par with the yearly La Ferté airshow near Paris. Purely photographically, the advantage of the French show is the fact that the background is much cleaner that it is at Duxford. This might not be immediately obvious in the images above, since in most images I did remove a lot of GA aircraft in post-processing.

MP guarding the Avenger

Paying the extra 5 GBP fee for the flight-line walk, is a no brainer. The multiple re-enactors in front of the static aircraft add to the overall WWII feel.

Compared to other similar shows like La Ferté, ticket prices in Duxford are quite steep; we paid 34.5 GBP + 5 GBP (flight-line walk) per person, plus a 20 GBP landing fee for the aircraft we came in.

Until midday, especially on a clear day like we were there, one is frequently shooting into the sun (backlighting). Once the airshow starts around 2pm, this improves drastically.

French pilot/journalist Bernard Chabbert, who is the regular commentator at the show; really added a lot of value to the whole Duxford experience. 

Even though, I been using my FujiFilm X-E1 almost extensively the last six months, I did use my full frame 36 million megapixel Nikon D800 for the better autofocus capability. All of the images were shot with the 70-200 2.8 VR2, while for most of the inflight shots the 1.7 teleconverter was added for increased focal range.

Overall the airshow which is often described as the best "piston engine only" airshow in the world, was a great experience and I'll sincerely hope to be back in the near future!

Spitfire take-off

The next large aviation event that should be cleared of my bucket list soon, is the vintage fly-inn at Hahnweide near Stuttgart, Germany; Oldtimer Fliegertreffen- Hahnweide
Hotel, rental car and flights are all booked and I should be there from September 5th late afternoon till the night of  September 7th.

Remember; " To most people the sky is the limit, to the ones that love aviation the sky is home"

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