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My most memorable air display - but when or where?

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My most memorable air display - but when or where?

Old 23rd Jul 2014, 12:54
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My most memorable air display - but when or where?

It was around 1970 give or take a few years. Southern England. The announcer said that two aircraft from (Belgium? Holland?) were en route from A to B and had agreed to stop by and give us a display. "They should be arriving about....NOW!" They came in very, VERY low over us, some folks actually falling/blown over and gave us the most frightening and splendid display I have every seen. I am sure it wasn't exactly legal, or at least wouldn't be now. My memory says (and I may be wrong) they had two engines, one above the other and they may have been those that had wing tip tanks and I think the USA had problems with several crashes. The display lasted 5 or 10 minutes and left us absolutely shaken. My first wife (long deceased now) actually sat down on the grass and cried because it was so frightening. High speed passes, climbs, stop and gos, rolls etc. I have been to many air shows before and since but nothing has impressed and scared me as much as that. Anyone any ideas? Sorry I can't even remember the aircraft type and I can't find it on a brief Google.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 12:58
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North Weald +- 10 years ago. Dennis Kenyon did things with a helicopter that (he was in his 70s) were stunning to this fixed wing plodder. Stands out in my mind above anything else I have ever seen.

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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 13:03
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Unfortunately my most memorable air display was that for the wrong reason. It was in a place in North Wales or possibly Cheshire/Shropshire, I think it was called Wem, in the very late 60s or early 1970s, and an aerobatic aircraft crashed very close to us and exploded. The pilot was killed but if I recall none of the spectators were injured. It was a very unpleasant and shocking experience, specially for a teenager.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 13:06
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JWP, possibly a pair of Dutch, Belgian or German (The Vikings?) Starfighters? Seem to remember hearing about a duo that would arrive from behind the crowd and get quite low.

Biggin Hill?

One act I particularly recall for all the right reasons was the late Stefan Karwowski demonstrating Stepehn Grey's newly acquired Grumman Bearcat, at short notice and after only a very quick practice. Biggin Hill 1982. I arrived just as he started to accelerate down the runway, disappeared over the bump and reappeared going straight up into a half Cuban. Very impressive display of a remarkable aeroplane.

Several displays I can recall for the wrong reasons, let's not go there.

Last edited by treadigraph; 23rd Jul 2014 at 13:17.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 13:14
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Wow, so many! Vulcan displays at Woodford and Barton were quote something. I remember the two Starfighters as well! And a fantastic Grumman Bearcat display at Barton; one of its near vertical dives and pullouts was close to a marquee set up by a car dealership - as their tent was almost flattened by the wake vortex all the salesmen came running out thinking their last moments had come!
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 13:20
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I did a DA with Dennis last year, He had never flown the helicopter type concerned, but by 'eck could he make it dance!

I landed humbled and with a desperate need for the bathroom!

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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 13:33
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Hard to choose but the 1996 Wanaka (NZ) display was probably the most memorable - a fantastic venue and great company at the time. There have been others, the bi-centenial at Richmond NSW in 1988, and several at Temora (NSW); most recently Avalon Vic last year. Wanaka takes some beating for those of us down under (or it used to).

Alas, whilst I'll be in England in September, I'll be on the way south again when the next big Duxford show is scheduled. When we first booked, it seemed possible, but the dates changed, and I will miss probably my only chance to see even one Lancaster in the air, much less two . (Don't even mention multiple Spitfires).

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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 14:02
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I was at the opening of Basle Int airport '59. Most of the NATO airforce aerobatic teams were there exept for the RAF. The USAF Skyblazers were awesome as were the other teams as they thrilled the thousands of spectators...then our Vulcan, from 617 Sqdn, took off. Then, as now, it stole the show!
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 14:03
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Bob Hoover

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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 14:03
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St Mawgan mid '70s....

......it was the "let's show the RAF to all the VVSOs on the RCDS" show (one notch below a Royal visit said the Air Commodore in charge). Show opener was a recce Jag coming stright across the field towards the tower and across the VIP stands taking piccies. Hard left into the circuit, short landing, photogs waiting in a LR ,drop the cameras, go to photo section and 20 mins later deliver individual vinegarry smelling prints to the VIPs. Hurrah!
Waiting on the piano keys as the Jag arrived was the Lightning jock as soon as the Jag was past the centre line Go GO GO. Well impressive.

On the day the cloud base was not a lot seriously not a lot!
Our man says "The show must go on!"
The Jag gets slightly lost en route (like the last few miles)
"Lightning GO!" says our man. Click click.
Just then as he rolls, the Jag appears over the far boundary in a 60degree bank, rolls level, kicks it straight and wellies across the field and stands, just as matey in his Lightning rotates.
I shut my eyes, as the Jag was pointing right at me on the tower balcony.
"Left that a bit late" says Lightning mate as he disappears into the overcast.
All this took about 4 secs.

At the debrief our man in charge said to Lightning mate "Bloody superb can you do that again tomorrow!"
I think that he was remarkably restrained in his reply.

I popped into the photo section later and asked to see the prints of that moment. I can't remember how many frames per sec the camera took but it was quite a lot.

Frame 1 Lightning wheels on ground, rotated and looking down the intake.
Frame 2 Lightning intake VVVVV close
Frame 3 (other side of Jag) Lightning tail disappearing out of shot.

They put their magic measuring grids on them and in Frame2 it was 67fft away from camera!

It took me a while to restart breathing.

The Ancient Mariner
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 15:33
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JWP1938, from the performance I'd be inclined to think it was either the Hawker Hunter or if late in the 70's an F-16 (78/79). Both seem capable of the type of feats you mention and were in service with both airforces during the 70's
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 15:39
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I'll go for the Vulcan at Barton my first time there, early 70's. I shall never forget the ground shaking when the pilot put it into what looked like a vertical climb from fairly low down. Next time there I didn't see anything much as I had been talked into checking tickets at the gate.

Close second would be the arrival of Blackbird at Farnborough having just flown over from the states in under 2 hours in around the same year.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 15:46
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It has to be my first...RAF Shawbury about 1959. I was six. So many different aircraft and helicopters. It inspired me and led to a lifelong interest in aviation including a short seven year stint in the RAF!
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 16:39
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About 1947, South Cerney Airfield.
I watched as they announced that a vampire which had just got the world airspeed record (was it about 600mph?) did a low pass.

4th December 1949 Filton Airfield Bristol, I watched the Bristol Brabazon roll out on the runway for what everyone thought would be a ground check and then it took off for its maiden flight.

Mid 1960s. Enfield Aerodrome glider display watched a Blanik perform remarkable aerobatics including an inverted loop almost touching the ground in front of us. Sadly the pilot was later killed in the same glider caused by a spanner that had possibly been lurking in the glider since construction and after many years coming free and jamming the controls.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 17:07
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Manston, 1973. The Red Arrows (Gnat era) had decamped from Kemble while the runway was being fettled and were taking advantage of the airfields lack of action.

A group of exchange students from France were invited to watch a practice display and rows of seats were set up adjacent to the tower. The Reds took off and disappeared low level while everyone waited for the show to begin.
The SATCO announced "Ladies and gentlemen, the Red Arrows"! and the visitors were looking out across the airfield trying to spot them.
Myself and a few others knew what was about to happen and had positioned ourselves on the tower balcony to get a good view. Seconds later, the Reds in line astern, came from directly behind the visitors at haircut height, and as they passed over most of them dived to the ground with shock. Once they had picked themselves up they were able to enjoy the type of display that was given when there was no top brass around.
The tower switchboard lit up with locals complaining and the civvy operator (a Manston peculiarity) was heard to fob some of them off by saying, "sorry, can't hear you for the noise!"
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 17:09
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Farnborough, 60/61 or 62. Lightning formation last pass was a points of the compass 'stack' and they got it just right, instant and momentary sight of four lightnings pointing four different direction in about two hundred feet.

Several shows where the Vulcan did its thing.

Shawbury Summer afternoon 60 or 61. Jet Provosts, individual aerobatics competition for RAF trainees. Sat outside the Rubber and Plastics Research place where I was working and watched four or five displays. Last one was scary. Very, very low, including pull outs. The officer presenting trophies later said that they did not expect him to be there to collect his prize.

All very jolly. Today he'd be up on charges!
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 17:14
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Watching the Shoreham Airshow some time I think in the late 70s or early eighties so I'd have been a kid. Sitting up on Mill Hill with my dad looking towards the airport over the A27. All the activity on the airfield stopped, we didn't know why, then a Vulcan came screaming very low immediately over the top of us (I remember briefly being in its shadow and the incredible noise of the engines) and away over the airport and coast. Scared the bejesus out of the both of us! And that is what pretty much confirmed my love of aviation.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 17:34
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Anyone any ideas?
Sounds a lot like a pair of Starfighters, I think Belgian, at Biggin in around 1978.

I remember the announcement that they were on their way, then everyone wondering where they'd got to, then the announcement 'Here are the Starfighters' followed by a deafening bang as they came overhead from behind at what looked no more than 50ft.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 19:27
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On an small thread change...

I have never been impressed by air displays that include manoeuvres containing an element of danger, for example the Red Arrows.

Surely a display of airmanship with all that goes with it including coloured clouds etc. is enough to thrill the observers without introducing bits that look like 'near misses' (I appreciate that they are not that close!)

Performing flying that requires aircraft to pass within limits that requires hours of practice and that has more than once resulted in death is, in my opinion, akin to circus acts like tightrope walking, knife throwing or trapeze and are simply not required as part of a display by a member of the armed forces.

They are nothing more than dangerous showing off rather than a display of the skills of pilots and the capabilities of the aircraft they fly and they contribute nothing to the skills reservoir within the service.

I would ditch the Red Arrows unless they were prepared to illustrate flying in todays Royal Air Force and act less as a group of fellows on a macho trip.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 19:37
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Two airshows come to mind. One was the Southend airshow held in 1966 at the airport itself. It started before we got in and I remember hanging out if the rear window of our family's Austin Westminster watching a Vulcan do a very low level chandelle over the tower, etc. That was followed by a Victor that was desperate not to be outdone. Then there was a really good display by the two JPs followed by the most impressive display I've ever seen. A Lightning approached the crowd from the rear at warp factor snot, on the deck, and then performed a full burner vertical climb until it was out of sight. The rest of it's in the weeds display was equally entertaining. The other display was a private affair in 1992 in Lesno. It was performed by a fully aerobatic Russian piston single that took off along a runway formed by the crowd. When airborne the runway closed. Above us a guy, who is probably fed raw meat and lives in a padded cell tied up in a straight jacket, then performed totally impossible manoeuvres - my gob was smacked!

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