||Duxford Spring Air Festival -
Duxford, Cambridgeshire 28th May 2017
Comment - On paper at least, IWM Duxford’s season opener over the 27th
and 28th May weekend should have been a memorable show. Fast jets included
the RAF Typhoon and L’Armee de l’air Rafale, the French jet making one of
only two UK airshow appearances due in this season. Classic jets saw Sea
Vixen ‘Foxy Lady’ booked alongside another cold war icon, the MiG-15UTI from
the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. Warbirds due to show included
stalwart B-17G Sally-B, a P-51D and a pair of Spitfires. Other acts included
vintage racers from Shuttleworth, the Army Air Corps Apache role demo and
the Great War Display Team.
However, on the day (we visited on the Sunday) things just didn’t gel and I
certainly left a little somewhat deflated, feeling that it was one of the
least inspiring shows I had been to for a long time. Certainly, on the
photographic front I came away with hardly any pictures, something which has
not happened for me at an airshow for a very long time.
To be fair, several factors did work against the show. The biggest
disappointment was the lack of ‘Foxy Lady,’ the Sea Vixen having suffered a
serious hydraulic failure returning to Yeovilton the previous day.
Fortunately, pilot Commander Simon Hargreaves pulled off a safe and skilful
emergency wheels-up landing seeing both pilot and aircraft back on the
ground in one piece. I certainly wish ‘Foxy Lady’ an expedient return to
flight as soon as possible.
We also lost the MiG-15 display as a traffic incident outside of the
airfield led to its cancellation. It was therefore left to the Typhoon and
Rafale to bring on the noise but the Typhoon seemed lost in the wide expanse
of Duxford’s greying skies, the rolls and vapour-filled turns being too far
away for any meaningful photography. The Rafale put on a much tighter
display with more ‘presence,’ however, by then the standard UK grey airshow
sky had well and truly set in and the effect of the exotic colour scheme was
Perhaps it was the dulling grey sky and the threat of an imminent rain
front that contributed to my despondent mood, but the Spitfire pair that
then closed the show again seemed quite lost in a sky that, on other
occasions, has been filled with warbirds galore.
Admittedly, the sun did come out earlier in the day and this helped
proceedings, the Red Devils being one of my highlights due to the 2,000
square feet Union Jack that one of the paratroopers dropped with. The
big-friend, little-friend pairing of Sally-B and Miss Velma was my other
personal highlight, again, a bit of sun and blue sky helping to liven things
In conclusion, IWM were aiming for a more family orientated show, and this
was reflected by the acts that were booked, although events outside of
Duxford’s control impacted even on this. However, for a warbird fanatic, who
has experienced so much magic at this historical airfield, it was a
disappointment. Yes, I saw the participant list beforehand and so knew it
would be no Flying Legends or Battle of Britain show, but the magic of
Duxford that is normally present was just not there this time.
airshow photographs from 2017