Throughout 2019, IWM Duxford has been hosting ‘Showcase Days’ which have featured smaller scale flying displays. These events are part of IWM Duxford’s project to feature more flying action at the museum alongside its three major airshows. The final ‘Showcase Day’ at Duxford closed the UK flying display season with two hours of flying featuring many of operators based at the Cambridgeshire airfield.
Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography by the author.
The Imperial War Museum at Duxford has long been a jewel in the crown of UK airshows. It has held some of the UK’s most memorable airshows and often has participants and flying display line-ups which are not seen anywhere else in the world. Duxford is also playing a role in bringing in new blood in to the airshow community. The various operators at Duxford have long played an important role in bring on new generations of display pilots but recently the Imperial War Museum themselves have been overseeing the mentoring and training for flying control committee members and flying display directors. ‘Showcase Days’ play an important part in this as well as being an added draw to the Museum.
Throughout 2019, the ‘Showcase Days’ have augmented Duxford’s big three airshows offering more opportunities to see display flying at the Cambridgeshire airfield. Unlike the airshows, they are part of a normal day at IWM Duxford so are subject to the normal museum admission fee. Also unlike the major airshows there are no traders, grandstand or hospitality tents. For the October showcase, the flying displays took place in two hour long slots in the afternoon with a one hour break between. This allowed for a very relaxed afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy the Museum and hangars as well as the flying. In addition to the display flying there were plenty of pleasure flights being undertaken by the Classic Wings fleet plus other movements which included the arrival of Aero Legends’ Supermarine Spitfire IX TD314.
For the final showcase of the year, the flying displays were all drawn from operators and aircraft based at Duxford. It was a typically cool October afternoon with mostly overcast skies but at least the weather didn’t prevent any of the planned displays from going ahead.
Opening the display in great style were a trio of the most potent piston-powered fighters which operate from Duxford. Leading ‘Furious Formation’ was Anglia Aircraft Restoration’s Supermarine Spitfire XIV flown by Steve Jones. Completing the three-ship were The Fighter Collection with the Grumman F8F Bearcat flown by Nick Grey and the Goodyear FG-1D Corsair piloted by Pete Kynsey. The three aircraft performed some formation passes before concluding their display with a very tight tail-chase sequence.
As well the formations, there were a number of solo displays throughout the afternoon. These included the Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard IIIB from the Aircraft Restoration Company flown by Sam Worthington-Lease, Plane Sailing’s Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina, Mark Miller flying his de Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide and Pete Kynsey giving a virtuoso aerobatic display in the Le Vier Cosmic Wind.
Amongst the displays were some very unusual combinations. A salute to de Havilland paired up a DH83 Fox Moth flown by Mark Miller with a DHC-1 Chipmunk T10 piloted by Mo Overall for some gentle formation passes. By contrast ‘Lysander Formation’ saw a very dynamic tail-chase led by Dave Ratcliffe in the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Westland Lysander IIIA with Peter Kirkpatrick’s Hawker Hurricane I V7497 in pursuit flown by Neil Oakman.
The Historic Aircraft Collection made an impressive contribution the showcase. Their Hawker Hurricane XII and Supermarine Spitfire Vb flown by Dave Harvey and Clive Denney were the finale to the first section of flying displays with a smooth sequence of passes in close formation. Towards the end of the second period of display flying there was a very rare and welcome display from the Collection’s Hawker Fury I, again in the hands of Dave Harvey.
Even more Fighter Collection machinery flew in the second section of flying displays. Both Dave Southwood and Andy Durston flew impressive solo displays under the overcast in the Grumman (General Motors) FM-2 Wildcat and Curtiss P-40F Warhawk respectively. TFC were also involved in the finale to day with their Supermarine Spitfire Vb flown by Rolf Meum joined by Paul Bonhomme flying the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation’s North American P-51D Mustang and Steve Jones in the Hispano HA1112-M1L Buchon from the Aircraft Restoration Company. Their routine mixed some close formation flying with a flowing tail-chase to cap a very enjoyable afternoon of flying and to close Duxford’s flying season for 2019.
Duxford are to be congratulated their commitment to expanding display flying activities at Duxford. The ‘Showcase Days’ offer more opportunity for the public to enjoy the Duxford based warbirds in the air and in a far more relaxed surroundings which allow for plenty of time to explore the Museum We hope these events continue for future years.