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Big Beautiful Doll beats up the airfieldSure Shoreham

RAFA Battle of Britain airshow, Shoreham 31 August & 1 September

Frank Togher reports on a growing airshow in Sussex

The annual Shoreham air show takes place at the end of August, providing a welcome return to air shows after the summer 'break'. Now in its 14th year, it has grown steadily and is firmly established on the calendar (well, mine anyway!). Run by the local RAFA association, it has been a major fund raiser, collecting over 500,000 since its inception - hopes are high that this year will beat 2001's record 102,000…. beat that RIAT!

There's always some Fokker in the way...The show itself is a good mix of civilian and military displays covering the period of its existence as an airfield (c. 1910 until present day). This year, on both days a series of biplanes displayed covering some 90 years from the First World War to the present, including the pre-war Bucker Jungmeister trainer in Swiss markings, RNHF Fairey Swordfish and a trio of the ever popular Utterly Butterly Stearmans. Opening the programme the First World War tableau fielded an unusually equal contest of two Brits (Sopwith SE5a and Nieuport 17) versus two 'Huns' (Fokker triplane and a rare Junkers S1).

Moving into the WWII pageant, the BBMF was followed by a flypast of ArCo's Bristol Blenheim accompanied by a pair of Spitfires (MK IX and XVIII) on its wingtips. This was followed in a similar manner by B-17 'Sally B' together with Rob Davies's P-51D 'Big Beautiful Doll' and usual partner P-51D 'Janie'. Next, representing a daring raid by the type on an allied convoy in Tunisia, was a Me108 in desert camouflage (flown by Rod Dean).

Schweizer 269CFast jets included Tom Moloney's Strikemaster, a DH Venom and Jonathan Whaley's 'starburst' Hunter. RAF participation included a Grob Tutor, BAe Hawk and Harrier GR7, though sadly no Tornado. One of the top displays of the day was the solo Danish F16AM from Skrydstrup - with a flypast at M0.9 and good topside passes it was the fastest and noisiest of the day! Not everything went to plan though - unfortunately on departure to Belgium, one of 20 Squadron's GR7s suffered a bird strike on the cockpit, requiring a smartish return to Shoreham with a fuel dump over the Channel - though no visible damage was apparent, the commentator made a meal out of it. Helicopters were represented by a Commando Sea King from Yeovilton and Dennis Kenyon's amazing stunts in his local Schweizer 269C G-BXUP.

With Lancing College in the background and the rolling hills of the South Downs, Shoreham can be atmospheric - give it a try next year!


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