Damien Burke reports on a dream line-up at a recent Duxford event
It's not often these days that you get to see a B-24 display, or a Victor powering around the sky with a grace that belies its still space-age looks. But these, and other rarities, were to be found in the air at Duxford on 11 August.
Arriving at what would have been a fairly early time for most Duxford shows - 11:00 - I found the flying display was already in full swing, with a B-17 coming in to land and a Pitts Special preparing for take-off. Paying my outrageously low entrance fee - one pound (on top of normal IWM admission of course, but then I'm a 'Friend' and so don't have to pay to get into the museum any more), I hurried to the crowdline. With the Pitts being insufficiently interesting to grab my attention, it was time for a quick run round the static line-up.
And what a line-up! Enough to get the blood pressure rising for any enthusiast... a brace of Me-110s, Ju-87, a pair of Typhoons (no, not the Eurofighter variety), Wellington, B-24, Vengeance, Rata, Fw-190, Me-163 and more! But pride of place here was the Victor, dwarfing everything else and gleaming in the sunlight.
Soon though the sound of engines drew my attention back to the flying programme, with no less than three Corsairs airborne. Following soon after, a Venom and then an F-15, though sadly no afterburners evident on during the Eagle's display. The Venom was flown with remarkable precision, and the inverted low pass was a delight. Piston power was back moments later, with a P-47 and Skyraider both displaying - the Skyraider complete with an alarming variety of weapons slung under its wings. Gentler-sounding, but thrown about with far more abandon, were an Extra 300 and CAP 231. Both pilots appeared totally unaffected by the increasingly wild manouevres pulled off by both types.
While the crowd relaxed to the purr of a Cub and Avro 504, I took the chance to examine a Hurricane in the static, nearing completion of its 'rebuild'. Returning to my spot on the crowdline to find things were still pretty quiet - with another Cub, Wilga and two or three other civvy types displaying - I sloped off for a quick poke round the hangars at Duxford and returned to find Martin Willing's T-28 preparing to depart for the North Weald fly-in.
was now time for a lunch break, so flying stopped - until Sally B appeared
on the horizon, coming straight in to land. Pity she didn't do a flypast
or anything, but not to worry because after lunch the flying display continued
with a Beech 17, P-51 and B-17 'Hang the expense' which put on a sparkling
She was soon joined by B-24 'Stinky', and her silver lines gleamed in the sun as she swept through a fantastic display. Sadly a nose gear collapse on landing found Stinky's tail sticking up from the grass in a most un-ladylike manner - happily, no damage was done.
In among repeats of the morning's acts, one highlight were was the magnificent Wellington taking to the air - only problem being a sticky main gear leg, which refused to retract. After flying around for a while trying to free it, a gentle landing was made, during which the leg in question folded up, resulting in an embarassing ground loop. Thankfully neither crew nor aircraft were harmed.
But the real biggie - the one I'd been waiting for - was the Victor. Taxiing to the runway took some time, but eventually she was ready, and her engines spooled up and she fairly leapt into the air for a noisy yet graceful display that brought wide grins to many faces.
Okay, by now you're wondering why Air-Scene UK is doing so many 'fake' airshow reports. But this is no fake! All the flying above did happen - it just happened on a smaller scale. For this was one of the Large Model Association's main events of the year, where some of the incredible models created by its members are shown off to other modellers and amazed members of the public alike.
The Victor was the star of the show and owner and pilot Gordon Nichols received the 'Duxford Trophy' which is awarded to the owner of the best aircraft representing a type actually at Duxford. Gordon's Victor is powered by two real jet engines, and so not only looks the part - she sounds it too. She may very well be the largest jet-powered model aircraft on the planet, certainly in Europe at least.
After the presentation, flying continued into the late afternoon while the crowd thinned out and gradually dispersed. The B-24 went up again, but had another nose-wheel collapse. The Wellington returned for another go too, and finally got that landing gear leg to retract after a long time flying round with gear down!
But with no damage done to anything except pride, this was really a grand day out, with some fantastic flying and some incredible models to enjoy. If I had a hat, it'd be off to the owner/builder/pilots of these fantastic works of art. Next time you see an LMA event on anywhere near you - take a look - you won't regret it. The only tricky bit is photography, big as the models are, they can be a little distant and a 500mm lens is really a minimum for good photos. For more info check out the LMA web site.