What was Britain’s first warbird airshow?

Four decades ago, the Great Warbirds Air Display pioneered a new style of airshow for Britain — and proved to be a very influential one.

You know when something’s new yet still, somehow, reassuringly familiar? So it was with the Paris-Villaroche Air Legend show at Melun-Villaroche, south-east of the French capital. A large, international air display, hosted by an aerodrome imbued with its own significant heritage, its lengthy flying programme based around set-pieces and very much historic-led, but with modern military and aerobatic acts to leaven the mix. On the ground, historical tableaux, heavy on re-enactors and military vehicles, add an air of nostalgia. At a time when fresh entrants to the calendar tend to be restricted in scope, it was an especially welcome addition. But, in another sense, it harked back to one event above all — one that hasn’t been staged for close on three decades, but still triggers the fondest recollections.

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