Shoreham Airshow 2008 Review
Saturday 30th August - Sunday 31st August
The RAFA Air Shows have been a feature of Shoreham life since 1959 and are a prime fundraiser for the Association; every time I visit I can feel the history of the place. There has been a flying ground in the fields between Lancing College Chapel, the River Adur Estuary and the sea since 1910, when Harold Piffard flew over to The Sussex Pad Inn to collect his prize of a crate of Champagne. It is Britain's Oldest licensed Airfield and Britain's first recorded consignment of airfreight flew from Shoreham to Hove in 1911 (a box of Osram Lamps). Shoreham can even lay claim to being in on the start of the Canadian Air Force in 1919. Some wonderful aircraft were also designed, built and flown here, most notably Beagle and Miles Aircraft.
reports from the classic West Sussex fighter station. Additional photography from .
Today Shoreham is an international airport with flights being operated by Sky South to destinations in France such as Le Touquet, Deauville and Caen. It also has its fair share of flying schools and businesses around the airport and is the home of the engineering department of Northbrook College - a Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) in Aerospace and Aviation. I have been going to Shoreham airshows now since 2001 and I am always impressed with the show. I was born in Shoreham, and last year I even got married in the beautiful 1935 Grade II listed Art Deco style Terminal Building! I had my first ever flight in a light aircraft from Shoreham Airport last year, when a friend took me up in a Bulldog, I was hooked and I am now well into my PPL.
Having spent Saturday at Bournemouth airport for the comings and goings for their seafront show, I visited Shoreham airshow on the Sunday. On arrival we drove straight in and parked up. The weather started off with heavy rain and very bad visibility, but the Sussex Police helicopter (G-SUSX), which is based at Shoreham, with their cops, robbers and Police dog routine kept us amused despite the weather.
Christian Moullec started the show with the welcome return of his birds and micro-light, having not been to Shoreham since 2006 due to the outbreak of bird flu. We were treated to a display with cranes this year instead of the usual geese. Christian breeds them from chicks and slowly teaches them to follow him on the ground then they fly along side him in the micro-light in formation. The result is a truly unique display.
A hard act to follow but 'The Black Cats' of the Royal Navy did just that, with an impressive demonstration of what the Lynx helicopter is capable of, the routine concluding with a fancy pirouette on the runway. An entertaining aerobatic display followed from Flt Lt Andy Preece in the RAF Tutor. The trainer being flown at Shoreham was the actual aircraft that Prince William did his first solo flight in. Flt Lt Stew Campbell (Tucano) and Flt Lt David Davies (Hawk) gave a great illustration of the progression through the current basic and advanced trainer types in RAF service.
The RAF Typhoon from 29(R) Squadron gave us a sharp reminder of its awesome performance with lots of vapour, noise and after burners. The Typhoon never ceases to impress.
Aerosuperbatic Ltd presented a unique five ship wing walking display at Shoreham. 'Team Guinot' led by Vic Norman put their Boeing Stearman bi-planes through lots of new and daring manoeuvres. Always entertaining with great airmanship - you are never sure which way to look! Another stunning display from the civilian aerobatic team 'The Blades'. In my opinion they are the best prop display team around. And they should be, as they are all ex Red Arrows pilots. 'The Blades' team consists of Andy Offer OBE, Dave Slow, Andy Evans and Miles Garland. We were treated to synchronised stall turns, crazy flying, flip-overs and a spectacular Spitfire-esque roll, all in all an excellent display.
The amazingly manoeuvrable B-25 Mitchell from The Duke of Brabant Air Force displayed next. This aircraft was almost rolled during the display! I did miss the B-25 flying in formation with Peter Teichman's P-51 at this years show. Talking of which…The Hangar 11 Collection, the P-40 Kittyhawk and the P-51D Mustang flown by Peter Teichman were displayed beautifully (not cut short by the Reds this year!) with lots of welcome topside passes for the crowd.
Matt Hampton displayed the Vampire T11 in the new scheme. This is believed to be the only T11 example flying in the world and is operated by the Vampire Preservation Group based at North Weald. Guy Westgate followed in his Swift S-1 glider and had added 'twist' to his display this year. Whilst being towed by a Piper Pawnee, Guy flies inverted and in close formation with a Vans RV-4 flown by Justin Gorman and a Silence Twister, which then went on to perform a solo display. The Twister is a German design but resembles a Spitfire with its wing shape and grace in the air - a very impressive aircraft.
Re-tracing Shoreham's past was The World War II airfield attack sequence. The fighter scramble was fantastic with pyrotechnics and air raid sirens. The Dad's army team taking pot shots at the Messerschmitts as they flew past whilst the Spitfires and Hurricanes did their best to tackle the Germans. Great entertainment and a fitting finale to the Battle of Britain Airshow. Sadly the visibility deteriorated at around 4pm and some participants decided quite rightly not to display.
The tragic death of Brian Brown whilst displaying the Hurricane at last year's show was in the forefront of my mind and I am sure many others of you this year. A memorial is now in place outside the main Shoreham Airport terminal building in tribute to Brian and serves as a reminder of the dedication of the pilots who display these beautiful warbirds for our pleasure.
I have nothing but praise for the organisers and volunteers who make this show happen, the parking, catering and toilet facilities as always were spot on. We had no problems leaving the show, the traffic was held up only briefly by prop blast from the departing Hercules!
A great show and I look forward to another next year.