Duxford Flying Legends Report

Saturday 10th July - Sunday 11th July 2010

Flying Legends 2009 will be forever remembered as the year that the very Germanic - but now very water damaged - Flugwerk FW190 stamped its authority on the event with its power and brute force. For 2010, and ironically the seventieth anniversary of this country's victory in repelling aircraft from the 'Fatherland', a German invasion of an entirely different kind helped to make Legends another special occasion, with a gaggle of aircraft paradoxically representing most of the Allies' iconic fighters from both the Eastern and Western fronts infiltrating these shores, with only their Deutschland serials to give away their nationality.

Phil Whalley reports from a very cosmopolitan Duxford. Photography by the UK Airshow Review team as credited.

The continued problems with the paperwork connected to many of their aircraft meant that The Fighter Collection had once again to 'import' many of the display acts for Flying Legends 2010, a show organised by TFC and which is normally built around their warbirds. Although there weren't the numbers seen at the 2009 event, the French and German guests certainly helped to continue Legend's exceptional record of quality shows. The reasonably good weather also held over the weekend, which can never be underestimated in aiding the enjoyment of a show. It was a little windy at times though, as those down-wind from the tank play-pit would testify!

The outstanding displaying visitor was the Polikarpov I-16 Rata (Rat) D-EPRN, owned by German Thomas Jülch, and flown in typically flamboyant style by aerobatic champion pilot Jurgis Kairys, in routines which included flick-rolls and other manoeuvres more normally associated with Jurgis' modern mounts. MeierMotors/Max Alpha Aviation, based in Bremgarten, also in Germany, bolstered the flying content with their bare metal TF-51D Mustang D-FTSI, a Spitfire HF VIIIc D-FEUR, and F4U Corsair F-AZYS. The facility is a centre of warbird activity, maintaining various warbirds at the site including Yak 3 'White 100' which attended and displayed alongside another Yak 3 and a Yak 9. These multiple aircraft routines are a defining feature of Flying Legends, with the show opening with no less than eight Spitfires sharing the skies above Duxford, followed by a trio of Skyraiders and then four Mustangs.

The improving paperwork situation allowed TFC to participate in two big radial pairings during the show, with their Hawker Sea Fury T.20 joining up with Mistral Warbird's Fury ISS, and their F8F Bearcat also making a welcome return to team up with the aforementioned Corsair. These segments of the display, along with the 'Balbo' finale, offer a breath-taking spectacle of constant action and amazing sounds. The multiple aircraft departures, with warbirds spread across both the 'hard' and 'soft', are another awe-inspiring facet of Legends, and it was during one of these moments where the aircraft are careful with their spacing that John Beattie in the Kennet Aviation Seafire chose to keep it low, catching out many of the photographers!

Offering more in the way of rare beauty was a trio of Hawker's finest biplanes, combining Historic Aircraft Collection's Nimrod, the Shuttleworth Collection's Hind and Demon Display's Demon, creating an image possibly not seen since these aircraft were in service in the 1930s. Purring Kestrel engines and polished aluminium, and extremely pleasing. Regular Duxford attendees included B-17 Sally B, and it is really good to see her having a trauma-free season, although you always know when her engines have started as the flightline disappears under a veil of smoke! The German theme was continued by more familiar Lufthansa schemed machines in the form of the Junkers 52 and 'Bf108', and the pre-war trainer colours of the various Bücker bi-planes.

The classic era was continued through a recreation of the Kings Cup Air Race by a Percival Mew Gull, a Miles Magister and an Arrow Active II, whilst moving forward slightly with the Bristol Mercury pairing of Lysander and Gladiator. The US contingent included pairs of Ryan PT-22s and L4 Cubs, and could also incorporate the later displaying Breitling Wingwalkers in the retro-schemed orange Stearmans. The sadly short flying programme had been grouped into these nationality and usage factions, organised around each type's history, so although the French based warbirds were welcome additions to the show, the delightful Morane Saulnier MS.406 was the sole representative for France, flying in adjacent slots with the sole transport category item, the Dakota Norway C-53D Skytrooper LN-WND, further promoting the spectacle of polished aluminium.

Although lacking perhaps in the numbers and brutish power of past 'Legends', especially the classic of 2009, The Fighter Collection must be applauded for presenting yet again a show which is very much a one of a kind. Hopefully in 2011 we will get to see a show which will again be invaded by screaming hordes of brutish Europeans, to be joined by a fully certified TFC fleet, for a classic and truly 'Legendary' extravaganza.


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