Cosby 'Victory Show'

Saturday 7th September - Sunday 8th September 2019

With many still hesitant about the new display line introduced at the Victory Show in 2018, the star-studded line-up on offer this year ensured all the focus was on Cosby once again. Whether the show has finally rekindled some of its lost magic from 2015, remained to be seen.

Jakub Zurek spent an action-packed weekend in Leicestershire for UK Airshow Review.. Additional photography from Tom Jones.

The new curved display line introduced at the Victory Show in 2018 after the cancelled air element of the show in 2017 left many enthusiasts wondering what the future holds. The question on everyone’s lips was whether the show that once enjoyed some fantastic displays, on par and perhaps even better than those at Old Warden, could return to what it once offered. With memories of the shocking on-the-day announcement in 2017 that all air displays were cancelled still fresh in enthusiasts’ minds, many were still rightly cautious when considering their attendance at Foxlands Farm this year. As the flying displays got underway on Saturday lunchtime before the battle with a trio of American fighters consisting of a pair of Mustangs and a Thunderbolt, it became apparent at what the revised display line now offers to punters.

The banana-shaped display line means positioning yourself furthest north of the airfield where the crowdline curves around to allow some visiting aircraft such as the C-47 to park, is the prime position for viewing the flying though depending on the prevailing wind, anywhere south of the airfield can also be a good spot for landings. As aircraft display along the new display line, the curve forces pilots to show the topside of the aircraft on almost every pass; though for those used to watching high octane warbird aerobatics at somewhere like Duxford, the ‘new’ displays at Cosby may seem a little less engaging at first. Pilots are certainly not restricted to sedate flypasts, but displays become predictable as the day goes on, with all warbirds flying the exact same curved pattern around the airfield. Most displays still manage to feature plenty of purposeful swooping passes however, and each display consists of multiple topside passes with a looping or rolling manoeuvre thrown into the mix. It is a photographer’s dream but takes some getting used to.

Concerns about the distance of the display line do have some truth, as anywhere in the middle of the showground will have the worst view in the house. The northern end of the runway though is close enough to get frame-filling photographs of a single aircraft with a 400mm lens on a crop-factor body – a standard set-up for countless enthusiasts. The flying is certainly not as close or low as at the Shuttleworth Collection, but still closer than many other shows in the post-Shoreham era. With each pass showcasing the topside of the aircraft, what displays may lack in closeness, they more than make up for with the way they are displayed. Take-offs at the grass airstrip can also be a fantastic spectacle. For those positioned on the northern end of the airfield, the epic low Buchon take-off on Sunday will live long in the memory. Likewise, the multiple take-offs from the Catalina and C-47 throughout the weekend were certainly something special, with many looking in awe at the heavy twin-engine warbirds getting airborne from the temporary farm airstrip.

Foxlands Farm also provides a perfect backdrop to see the attending warbirds up close and personal during the flightline walk. For £3 per person, it provides an opportunity to see the aircraft with no barriers, walk around and study them from every possible angle. This is truly a fantastic part of the event, and no doubt the laid-back atmosphere of the show makes it all possible. Chances to get up close in such manner to airworthy warbirds are rare and being allowed to view the whole airframe to your heart’s content is the best £3 you will spend this year. However, one really had to attend both days to see everything on the ground this year, with the pair of Mustangs absent until after their display on Saturday, as well as Buchon ‘White 9’. The P-47 Thunderbolt on the other hand had commitments at Southport, meaning the hefty fighter was only on the ground briefly on Saturday.

The flying programme did see a few notable gaps too, though the fact this is such a laid-back affair for £20 a ticket, this can easily be excused. Sadly, the four advertised Buchons never materialised and only two were on display during the weekend. Cancellations are an unavoidable part of any airshow, but without a single announcement being made about their absence, visitors were left wondering what happened to the promised quadruple. Nonetheless, the two main set pieces of the show with the trio of American fighters and a pair of Buchons being chased away by a Hurricane and a pair of Spitfires were no doubt the highlights, worth buying a ticket for alone. The authentic round parachute drop from the Aero Legends C-47 was also an added bonus to the display on both days. Special mention must go to the Catalina crew for landing the huge aircraft at Foxlands Farm multiple times and showcasing the aircraft in a whole new dimension. Performing sprightly turns to reposition onto the crowdline, every pass of the flying boat was a topside to please photographers. All of this on top of the experience of the wing coming over the crowd as the Duxford-based aircraft taxied out from its parking spot. The prospect of welcoming the BBMF Lancaster or B-17 Sally B to display using the new curved display line is certainly something to get excited about, with a strong crosswind forcing the cancellation of the Lancaster’s planned appearance on Saturday.

Additionally, this year saw the Victory Show pair up with to offer a nightshoot on Saturday evening. A chance to photograph some of the warbirds at sunset and night-time, this also afforded photographers to see a very special sunset display from the attending Hurricane. Reminiscent of evening shows at Old Warden, this year’s Victory Show really had it all.

Looking around at spectators during the displays, it is clear visitors were ecstatic to witness Second World War aircraft in their element, surrounded by period reenactors, vehicles and so much more on the ground. And this is what the Victory Show is all about - the multiple stories to tell, on the ground and in the air – and how they all link together. It is a comprehensive Second World War experience for all ages, helping to remember all the fallen men and women. With such a laid-back atmosphere, no rush to get to the front of the crowdline and an interesting variety of attending warbirds, it is safe to say the Victory Show is back on track.