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  RAFA Battle of Britain Airshow - Shoreham Airport, Sussex 31st August 2002
 

Review - With the ‘foothills’ of the South Downs providing an idyllic setting, visitors to the Shoreham-by-Sea Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association’ annual charity airshow, staged over the weekend of 31st August – 1st September at Shoreham-by-Sea airfield near Brighton, were treated to an excellent and enjoyable display of aerial finesse and ground-based attraction, all of which helped to raise funds for the RAFA Wings Appeal Charity.

Show organiser Don Bean MBE and the Shoreham team can be justifiably proud of the event, now in its thirteenth year, which this year celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the patron of the RAFA, Her Majesty the Queen.

There was much to see of interest on the historic front with Martin Willing opening the show proper with a tight routine in Percival Pembroke WV740 / G-BNPH. Guy Westgate then put on an impressive and show stopping aerobatic display in the Fox glider which included rolling around the tow cable while still attached to the tow plane!

The Great War Display Team then took centre stage, Shoreham being the last display for the team with Fokker Dr1 Triplane replica G-BVGZ, flown at the show by Nick O’Brian. The aircraft, which has been with the team for 8-years, was purchased earlier this year by Robert Fleming and is now based at Breighton in Yorkshire. However, a new adversary has surfaced to do battle with the team’s SE5a’s and Nieuport in the shape of a Junkers CL.1 two seater ground attack aircraft which was making its second public appearance at Shoreham (the first being at Rougham’s Airshow 2002 in mid-August). The Junkers is in fact converted Bowers Flybaby G-BNPV and comes complete with ‘Hienrich’ the tail gunner and a fetching dappled camouflage scheme.

It was then time for some jet based action as Tom Malony put Botswana Defence Force camouflaged Strikemaster Mk.87 G-UNNY through its paces, followed by a scintillating display from the ever eye-catching Hunter F.58 G-PSST ‘Miss Demeanour’ flown by Jonathon Whaley. Later in the day the crowd was also treated to DeHavilland Aviation’s DH Venom FB.50 G-GONE flown in from Bournemouth by Clive Rustin.

Taff Smith followed the jets with some lovely aerobatics in Jungmeister G-AXMT, the machine’s bright yellow scheme very prominent against the blue sky. The Bucker’s radial engine heralded more prop-based attraction in the shape of John Webb in the immaculate Blenheim ‘Spirit of Britain First’ and Lt Cmdr Russ Ealtwell in the RNHF Swordfish W5856 ‘City of Leeds’, a slight change from the Sea Harrier F/A 2 he displayed at Shoreham two years ago! The Blenheim was also joined by Rod Dean in the recently restored silver Spitfire MK.XIV RN201 / G-BSKP, operated by the Aircraft Restoration Company on behalf of Historic Flying Ltd, and John Romain in Spitfire LF.IX MK912 / G-BRRA, the trio having performed earlier at a display in France.

Warbird highlight for many was a lovely display by Andrew Dixon in B-17G ‘Sally-B’, escorted by little friend Rob Davies in his P-51D ‘Big Beautiful Doll’. The sight of the Fortress in the sky above Shoreham was, as always, moving, particularly poignant in this 60th anniversary year of the Eighth Air Force’s first mission from England.

With the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers providing an excellent three-ship display  (only the second time this season after Biggen Hill) as the show came to a close, it was time to reflect on a great weekend’s flying. Indeed, John Periam of the RAFA described this years show as “the most successful yet.” New items were the ground display arena, which proved very popular alongside a balloon light and firework display on the Saturday evening. “We try and make Shoreham a family show. An event to enjoy and to make a day of, and every year we try and do something that is different.”

Flying display director and commentator Peter Eager praised the Shoreham emergency services after they responded to an emergency call on the Sunday from the 20sqn display Harrier. The aircraft suffered a bird strike just after it had departed Shoreham for a display in Belgium. With damage to the canopy and engine, pilot Roly Sharman recovered the Harrier to Shoreham without further incident, his reported comment being “well, it wasn’t an albatross!”

Photographs (left to right) - Flypast November 2002; Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress G-BEDF 'Sally-B'; Bucker Bu133 Jungmeister G-AXMT 

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