In its 24th year, the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Shoreham Airshow, on 31 August and 1 September is due to present one of its finest flying programmes to date. Greg Marsh previews this popular airshow for GAR.
Shoreham Airport is one of the most picturesque venues for an airshow in the country, with the rolling landscape of the South Downs and Lancing College providing an idyllic backdrop to the flying. Combined with the venue’s 1930s’ art deco terminal, and a very strong flying programme, and you have a perfect recipe for an airshow.
Over the years, Shoreham has developed a reputation for providing an extremely varied flying display with something to cater for all aeronautical tastes. Key amongst the themes this year is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in Europe. Flying Display Director Rod Dean has assembled a superb collection of appropriate types, the undoubted star being the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight’s B-25 Mitchell. This makes a welcome return to the show after a five year absence and will formate with B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B, without which no tribute to the USAAF would be complete.
Representing the fighter element of the Mighty Eighth will be Peter Teichman’s P-51D Mustang Jumpin’ Jacques, whilst the often overlooked transport and liaison side will see displays from Aces High’s C-47 Skytrain and a pair of Piper L4 Grasshoppers. In all, the tribute will last 45 minutes, and it’s a joy to see a venue really embrace a theme and present these machines in an appropriate and imaginative manner, rather than a disparate collection of displays throughout the day.
Of course, Shoreham’s famous Battle of Britain scramble returns with a new look and participants this year. For the first time, two Buchóns will represent the Luftwaffe – the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo) and Spitfire Ltd machines will perform a duo aerobatic display to open the sequence.
If it’s anything like the display witnessed at Flying Legends, the crowd should be in for a treat. Fending off the dastardly Hun, besides Captain Mainwaring and his brave comrades, will be pairs of Spitfires and Hurricanes, including the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar’s Hurricane Mk.X. Again, this is another Shoreham débutant.
Completing the impressive warbird contingent will be Peter Teichman’s P-40 Kittyhawk Lulu Belle, carrying its striking skull motif, Kennet Aviation’s Skyraider (yet again, another first for the show), the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Swordfish and Sea Fury T20 and the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Lancaster’s appearance is particularly appropriate given that another theme being commemorated is the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 1943.
Fans of more stately, vintage machines are well catered for too. There will be a rare Bucker trio of Jungmann, Jungmeister and Bestmann, a return by the Tiger 9 Team with their nine de Havilland Tiger Moths, and the entire Great War Display Team, including the BE2c “Biggles Biplane”.
Shoreham always scores highly with an impressive array of civilian and aerobatic acts and this year is no exception. The Turbulent Team and Breitling Wingwalkers will hark back to the barnstorming years between the World Wars, while upping the ante will be displays by the RV8tors, Matadors, Trig Team and local aviators Justyn Gorman in his Extra 300L, and Guy Westgate, as part of the SWIP Team. Lauren Richardson will also provide dynamic aerobatics in her Pitts Special.
Classic jets are also in abundance this year with a fine selection on offer. Avro Vulcan XH558 appears on Sunday only and she will be joined by the beautiful F-86 Sabre from Golden Apple Operations (returning after a ten-year absence), NWMAS’ Strikemaster and Graham Peacock’s Hunter T7 WV372, flown by Chris Heames.
Lastly, and very appropriately given it’s the 70th anniversary of RAFA (yet another theme for the show!), the RAF will be contributing its solo Tucano and Typhoon alongside the Falcons Parachute Team and aforementioned BBMF.
With an impressive flying schedule, it’s easy to overlook the static display but there are a number of noteworthy historic items on show. Richie Piper’s PT-22 Recruit will be joined by Kennet’s T-6 Texan, a Chipmunk, several Bulldogs and a fine selection of vintage gliders.
With a host of ground-based activities on offer including trade stands, a funfair and the ever popular Haurel and Lardy, Shoreham Airshow 2013 is all set to be a highlight of the 2013 season.
All we need is for the weather to co-operate! GAR will be attendance over the weekend so look out for a full review following the show.
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