Duxford’s American Air Day
key.aero paid a visit to Duxford for its recent American Air Day, held on August 20.
The US Air Force’s American Air Day, staged at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, seems to be attracting a growing audience – judging by the healthy attendance at the fourth such event. It is particularly popular with families as it lands right in the middle of the school holidays with the bonus of free entry for children. The day has also been discovered by an increasing number of aircraft enthusiasts attracted by the flying displays by US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) aircraft that are UK-based but rarely – if ever – seen at air shows these days. Another draw is the merchandise available on the many ‘Booster Club’ stalls, including that of RAF Lakenheath’s 494th Fighter Squadron (the Panthers), recently returned from Afghanistan, which appeared to be doing a particularly brisk trade in tee-shirts and patches.
Recruit of the future?The event got off to a promising start with a flypast by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfires and Hurricanes, which were doing the rounds of all the Battle of Britain airfields plus a flypast over London to mark the 70th anniversary of the delivery of Winston Churchill’s stirring speech in praise of ‘the Few’ in Parliament. The four aircraft arrived at Duxford in formation with a Piper Aztec of the ‘Reach for the Sky’ Foundation, which provides flying scholarships for the disabled, flown by rock star and pilot Bruce Dickinson from the band ‘Iron Maiden’.
HH-60G Pave Hawk.A two-hour gap followed their arrival before the first display, thanks to the MC-130 Combat Talon Hercules going ‘tech’ at its RAF Mildenhall base. When its replacement from the 67th Special Operations Squadron did finally arrive, the display was limited to just a landing followed by the disgorging of a motorcycle and quad bike, after which it back-tracked to the flight line where it was then opened for visitors. Alongside it was a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, which provided a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) demonstration.
B-17G 'Sally B' represented the USAF's heritage.Then the eagerly awaited flypasts of heavier metal arrived in the shapes of a KC-135R from Mildenhall’s 100th Air Refueling Wing and four-ships of F-15 Eagles from both Lakenheath’s 492nd and 493rd Fighter Squadrons, after which we were treated to the customary impressive formation of the KC-135 with pairs of Eagles from the two units, F-15Cs on its port wing and F-15Es on the starboard. The day finished with an hour-long display of more typical Duxford fare provided by warbirds, including a T-28 Fennec, F-86 Sabre, B-17G, Catalina and Spitfire.
It was a great day out by any enthusiast’s standard, and represented good value for money – American Air Day fully deserved its increased attendance.
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