GATWICK EXPRESS

The Daily Express-sponsored Air Pageant at Gatwick 70 years ago was something very new for a post-war British show

Ben Dunnell explores The Aeroplane’s outstanding archives to cast new light on past stories

Every vantage point was taken at the Gatwick show. These spectators are watching the Vampire F3 element of the opening flypasts. ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE

How to make an air display truly different? In these days of ever tighter regulation — a good deal of it, one must say, understandable — the opportunities are increasingly limited. When considering the fate of certain boundary-pushing acts across the Atlantic, whether in the form of a Stearman-to-helicopter wingwalker transfer or some of the more extreme barnstorming shows, perhaps that’s no bad thing. Other novelties have proved rather more amusing. ‘Rocket man’ William Suitor’s appearance during 1984’s TVS Air Show South at Bournemouth cost the International Air Tattoo team several thousand pounds for just a few seconds of flight. Even that might have been cut short, but for his just avoiding getting his legs caught on the control tower balcony railing. Different days indeed.

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