Abingdon Fayre 2006 Review
Sunday 30th April
Time to dust off the camera, recharge the batteries, get the wife to make the sarnies… it's airshow time again! The May bank holiday period brought the first UK air display event of the 2006 season, the seventh Abingdon Air Fayre and Country Show held at Dalton Barracks in Oxfordshire. Organised by Neil Porter and his dedicated band of volunteers, this charity event has blossomed into a major occasion on the airshow calendar with proceeds from the show going to the Douglas and Helen House Respice Centres in Oxford. The venue boasts a traditional family atmosphere with plenty of ground attractions and a modest static line-up to keep the little ones happy for most of the morning before the afternoon flying display starts.
spent a rather pleasant day at his local airfield. Additional photography from
The static line-up included a US Army UH-60A Blackhawk from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) detachment at Chievres, in Belgium. For an American aircraft at a UK show, the aircrew were refreshingly friendly and open allowing onlookers to view the full interior of the helicopter including the plush carpets and leather seats intended for their passenger - the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) of NATO.
A pair of RAF Hawks from 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming and a pair of Grob Tutors stood next on the pan to the event's most far travelled visitor, SE-KVM - a Cessna 177 all the way from Sweden. Delta Jets, from nearby Kemble aerodrome, brought in their gorgeous blue Hunter T.7 resplendent in 92 Squadron colours and the Newcastle Jet Provost Group brought their fantastic Jet Provost T.3A in RAF training markings, which joined a T.5 example of the Jet Provost bedecked in the ETPS raspberry ripple scheme.
With numerous Moths and light aircraft arriving throughout the morning, they gave way to the distinctive sound of the RAF Support Helicopter Force (SHF) arriving. First down was the RAF Merlin HC.3 from 28 Squadron based at nearby RAF Benson, whilst a specially marked Chinook HC.2 from RAF Odiham made a noteworthy landing on the grass, rotor wash removing most of the onlookers outside the airfield at a local vantage point!
So there was just time to have a spot of lunch and let the kids loose on the resident Vigilant motor gliders to bide the time until the sound of a Rolls-Royce Adour engine was heard spooling up just before 2pm, and the RAF Hawk taxied out to start the 2.5 hour flying programme. Right on cue, the cloud rolled in and masked the sun but the black painted Hawk gave a polished display with plenty of vertical manoeuvres and fast passes to keep the crowd happy.
Next up was a saucy routine by the Me-108 "Taifun" or "Typhoon". Tightly hugging the aerodrome perimeter, the four seat trainer adorned in a splendid desert camouflage scheme gave a superb display of airmanship including numerous topside passes which made for great photography. Following on from the Lancaster display at last year's Air Fayre came LF363, the Hurricane IIc from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which flew it's familiar polished routine.
Martin West gave a spirited display in his Piper Arrow proving that it's not only the military who can fly a good topside pass whilst showing off the Arrows tidy lines to great effect. He gave way to the 2006 RAF Tutor display which somehow managed to defeat the massing low cloud with some vicious looking stall turns and wing-overs in the grey skies.
The flying programme paused for a moment as the pair of RAF Hawks got airborne to perform a local flypast, which enabled the "Volunteers" or "victims" to head towards the runway carrying the ribbon poles ready for their cut of the action. Denny Dobson took off in his yellow and blue Extra 300 showing off the excellent power to weight ratio with some flick rolls and turns before descending to slice through the waiting ribbons and then performing his masterpiece … the sideways landing!
Following on, the growl of Peter Teichman's latest acquisition from the Fighter Collection, the P-40M Kittyhawk was heard as he opened the throttles and put the WWII fighter through it's paces with some nice passes although with the skies darkening the fierce yellow flying tiger artwork on the nose sadly lacked impact.
Luckily, the rain clouds steered clear of Abingdon as the RAF Chinook HC.2 from 18 Squadron lifted to commence a stunning display of agility for such a large helicopter - the wheel recovery team from 28(AC) Squadron on standby in case they were needed again! Those present at last years Air Fayre held their breath as the Chinook banged down on the rear wheels and commenced a backward wheelie - the part of the display where the undercarriage detached itself previously. 18 Squadron have obviously invested in stronger glue this time round as all four of its feet stayed on and the chopper landed safely.
The finale was Andy Cubin in the blue Hawker Hunter T.7 from Delta Jets, who started the routine with a roller landing and then swept in for some tight turns and fast passes. The ex-Red Arrows pilot displayed the specially marked fighter to perfection with a sweet puff of tyre smoke on landing to bring the flying programme to a fitting close.
With a crowd in excess of the nine thousand attending the 2005 show and over 80 aircraft descending on Oxfordshire, the 2006 Abingdon Air Fayre was a fantastic organisational effort by all the volunteers involved raising a substantial donation for local charities.
Wonder what will be at next year's Air Fayre?