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Sopwith TriplaneShore thing in Sussex

Frank Togher takes a brief look at Shoreham's annual RAFA Battle of Britain airshow, 30/31 August

Celebrating its 92nd year as an airport, Shoreham in Sussex was an appropriate place to celebrate a 100 years of powered flight over the last weekend on August. Opening the airshow with his "Man's inspiration to fly", conservationist Christian Moullec took to the air in his microlight closely followed by his flock of geese. Wheeling around the airfield close to the crowd you could actually hear the geese honking! With his flock safely on the ground, the air rapidly filled with biplanes from the Great War with two SE5As, a Sopwith Triplane and a Junkers CL1 in a dogfight with a Nieuport 17. All five planes kept within the airfield boundary during the display surrounded by the Sussex Downs - great stuff.

Shoreham scorchers
BBMF Spitfire
RNHF Swordfish
Spitfire TD248
Sea Vixen
Harrier GR7

Christian Moullec and his feathered friendsMoving us gently onto the Second World War, the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Swordfish and Tony Haig-Thomas's Grumman Avenger provided a tribute to the Royal Navy, whilst the BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane did the RAF proud in the absence of the Lancaster (sadly grounded at Waddington with a tail wheel problem). Nor did we forget our American cousins, with B-17G 'Sally B' and P-51D 'Big Beautiful Doll', displayed by Rob Davies.

Post-war years were kicked off in fine style with a duo of Spitfires XIV and XVI in RAF 'racing' colours led by John Romain. Things were warming up nicely - in quick succession the fast jets moved us into the fifties and sixties era, with De Havilland's Sea Vixen flown by Brian Grant, Golden Apple's F-86 Sabre flown by Cliff Spink, Tom Maloney's Strikemaster and Jonathan Whaley's colourful starburst Hunter 'Miss Demeanour'.

Miss DemeanourPresent day RAF representation was rather sparse considering it was a RAFA event, but the we were treated to displays from the Tucano, Tutor and Harrier, the latter flown by Flt Lt Dave Slow, who was named as one of the new Red Arrows team members shortly after the airshow.

Closing the show, Ray Hannah and colleagues once again showed us why the Breitling fighters are so highly regarded with the Corsair, Spitfire and the Kittyhawk giving a superb close to the show. Considering the cancellations (albeit for well understood reasons) of the Lancaster, Blenheim, Catalina and OFMC's La9 (on the Saturday), Shoreham for me continues to grow in reputation with something new every year and represents good value for money at 14 entrance fee.


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