Great Vintage Flying Weekend (G-VFWE) Report

Saturday 8th - Sunday 9th May 2010

Held over 8-9 May, the Great Vintage Flying Weekend 2010 added to the excellent reputation that this event has built up over the past decade or so. Some things have changed since the 2009 show - for one, Kemble's now known as Cotswold Airport - but in many regards, the 2010 format mirrored that of its predecessor. The mini flying display introduced last year was repeated to great acclaim, and a large number of vintage and veteran aircraft descended on the airfield over the weekend.

Paul Fiddian reports from the Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire. All photos by the author.

Unfortunately, the majority of the visitors elected to arrive on the second day - Saturday being wet, windy and very cold. Even so, a slow flow of intrepid men and machines still came forth on day one, of which the star item was probably de Havilland Hornet Moth Ariadne. With so little going on, it's absolutely to the event team's credit that they came up with the idea of guided airfield tours, using the minibus that would have been used to ferry the arriving pilots around, and for which no charge was made. The tour took those onboard to all the tasty-looking areas that could be seen from the main public enclosure - but only through a powerful lens! - and included the airliner 'graveyard' - loaded with 737s and various Airbuses - and the military park which boasted two Canberras, several Hunters and a Sea Devon: tasty indeed!

These tours proved to be pretty popular, as did the Delta Jets hangar, with the chance to view its fleet alongside a couple of guest visitors. The Yellowjacks Gnat and Black Arrows Hunter sat in there in company with Air Atlantique's Vampire T.55 and Wings Venture's Spitfire Mark 1, and all were very nice to see, while the centrepiece was the specially-marked ex-39 Squadron Canberra PR.9. Outside the hangar another Canberra was parked up, along with Wings Venture's Douglas C-47 which featured in the afternoon's reduced-content flying display, along with Ariadne. A surprise visitor was Radial Revelations' T-28 Fennec and its high-octane performance was the absolute highlight of the first day, with low, powerful runs and spearing wingovers under the darkened skies.

Day Two dawned much brighter and - although seemingly even colder first-thing - weather conditions throughout the day weren't too bad at all, with a much higher cloudbase and a noticeable drop in the wind strength. While slow to get going, the arriving traffic started to flow in from 10.00am onwards and peaked at around midday, with over 70 aircraft turning up in all. Notable were Air Atlantique's trio of DH Rapide, Chipmunk and Prentice, a four-ship from Biggin Hill comprised of another Hornet Moth, the unique Civilian Coupe, Miles Messenger and Travel Air, and a Morane-Saulnier MS-733, which added on the second day what the T-28 had on the first in terms of the surprise factor. The airpark walk-around - while a central feature of both days - was obviously much more thorough on Sunday, and much of the audience took the opportunity to get up close and personal to these wonderful aircraft. The flying display was also much more complete and - aside from the C-47 again, which was pleasantly gymnastic - included elegance from a Pilatus P.2, energy from a Yak 50 (this flown by Dave Morgan of Sea Harrier/Falklands and Yakovlevs fame), slow-speed shenanigans from the spectacular Antonov An-2 and rarity from a Chrislea Super Ace, which the commentators thought might well be flying at a public event for the first time since the 1948 Farnborough Airshow!

The closing hours of the second day of G-VFWE were spent watching the departures and - as in 2009 - this was a real spectacle, with almost constant action as aircraft taxied by in close proximity to the crowdline and lined themselves up on either the grass or the hard runway. Overall, the 2010 edition of this event was enjoyable and full of atmosphere. It won't be remembered as a classic -the weather impacted on it too much for that - but it absolutely showed the resourcefulness of those running it and their determination to keep the crowd entertained, no matter what. And for that, G-VFWE 2010 should go down as a triumph.