Alan Key reviews Shoreham Airport’s 2011 event. Images by Gary Parsons
After the great airshows at Duxford, the Royal Air Forces Association Shoreham Airshow must be the next best place to see a great variety of historic, warbird and iconic jet aircraft on display in the UK. Ever since the first show the event has been supported by owners of these types of aircraft and this year the 22nd airshow held during the weekend of August 20/21 at the historic airport surpassed its previous best with no fewer than 34 historic aircraft in the flying display and another ten in the static line-up. This year’s show was blessed with good sunny weather throughout the weekend allowing a full seven hours flying display both days to thrill the enthusiastic crowds.
The show is organised entirely by volunteers and is the longest running annual airshow on the south coast and is certainly the best not only for the great aerial displays but also for the supporting ground displays. The show has raised over £1.6 million in support of the RAFA charity since the beginning and is now the biggest single supporter of the charity.
The flying display was supported by the RAF Battle of Britain Flight with the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane, the RNHF with its venerable Swordfish, a contingent of Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Me109 from the Aircraft Restoration Company, the Historic Fighter Collection Hurricane and Dan Griffiths’ ME108 that took part in the airfield attack and scramble, Hangar 11 with their Hurricane and Spitfire, the Mustang Duo, Plane Sailing’s Catalina, B-17G ‘Sally B’ and Thunderprops T-6G demonstrating the Second World War era. The airshow also had vintage aircraft with three Stearmans flown by the Breitling Wing Walking Team, Brendan O’Brien’s Flying Circus Piper Cub and the Pitts Pair.
Aircraft flown during the First World War were present with the Great War Team and its SE5 replicas, Sopwith Triplane, Nieuport, Junkers CL1s and Fokker DR1, the aerial dogfighting staying completely within the confines of the airfield. The 1950s was demonstrated by the two Gnats of the Gnat Pair, Hunter F58 ‘Miss Demeanour’ flown by Jonathon Whaley (one of two aircraft sporting the crest of 899 Squadron, Royal Navy - Jonathon flew Sea Vixens from HMS Eagle) and the unique Sea Vixen FAW2 - the latter was a most welcome addition to the programme enjoyed by all as this, the last all-British jet fighter aircraft, zoomed around the airfield; it was a late substitute for the Vulcan that was unfortunately grounded due to fuel tank problems.
The Shoreham show is refreshing - it is not a show with a plethora of aerobatic solo displays, but just the odd one or two; this year’s were Justyn Gorman in his Extra 330L and the RAF Tutor. Four display teams attended; Guy Westgate’s GliderFX display team (Pawnee and MDM-1 Fox Glider), the Yakovlev Display team with their YAK 50 and 52 aircraft, the SWIP team with two Silence Twister aircraft and the superb Blades in their Extras, who are major supporter of the RAFA Wings Appeal. The RAF attended with a Chinook in the static display and the Falcons Parachute team dropped in! The finale both days was the unique sight of Christian Moullec and his geese, this year flying next to his two-seater microlight.
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