Damien Burke was at Abingdon for the now annual Fayre on 2 May
The British weather, having been fairly kind to the Abingdon Fayre for the past few years, decided to have a bit of a laugh with us all this year. Waking up to low cloud and fog, but a forecast that promised no such thing, the chances of flying to this year's Fayre looked slim. In the hopes it would burn off we turned up at the airfield (Little Staughton, from where one of the display acts - Denny Dobson - was also departing) to wait. We went up for a quick local flight to check the weather - no joy. The cloud got lower and lower as we went West and it was very clear that fighting through this murk wasn't an option.
short now, so it was into the car for a fast drive to Abingdon. Denny
made several more attempts to get out of Little Staughton but to no avail
- the airfield was surrounded by impenetrable muck. This turned out to
be the case for quite a few more airfields throughout the country, so
the expected list of fly-in visitors became
steadily shorter through the morning. The weather actually at Abingdon,
of course, was
We arrived at the airfield just in time to see a pair of Mustangs preparing to depart, and after a couple of passes in formation, 'Janie' broke off to leave 'Big Beautiful Doll' to perform a sparkling display - an unexpected bonus. Helicopter participation at Abingdon is traditionally from nearby RAF Benson, but it wasn't to be this year with the Merlin fleet grounded and the Puma fleet overstretched as a result. Instead it was "Thank heaven for the Navy!" and a Lynx display instead. The newly named 'Black Cats' Lynx pair replace the previous Lynx pair display we've seen in recent years but Abingdon only got a singleton Lynx to play with.
Martin Willing was back again, this time with just his T-28 (the Pembroke having now changed hands) and he was followed by an excellent Tucano display - one of the best I've ever seen from the type. This year's classic jet was provided by a particular swish looking example of the Vampire T.11 and after that came the long-awaited appearance of a BBMF Spitfire over Abingdon - after two years of disappointment with them cancelling due to weather.
Following the Spit was without a doubt the best display ever put on by an RAF Hawk - a very different sequence to the usual display routine, with bags of negative G, a dirty pass, some enthusiastic use of the airbrake to throw that odd booming noise it produces at the crowd (making it sound rather like a Starfighter at times)... followed by landing at the airfield - the first RAF jet to do so since the airfield was closed.
Final act was Justyn Gorman putting together a polished sequence of gentle aeros in his Rans RV-4, and then it was time to watch the assembled throng of aircraft get on their way. Having arrived late and not had the energy to go wandering much through the parked aircraft, this was the only time I really realised just what a impressive selection of visitors had turned up - many of them interesting historic types. Several Chipmunks, Cubs and Austers - a Beech Staggerwing and C-45, Jet Provost... it looked like a dress rehearsal for the G-VFWE (Great Vintage Flying Weekend) to be held at the same airfield shortly afterwards.
Once again Neil Porter and his crew had put on a pleasant event with good flying and an interesting selection of fly-in visitors. Add all the ground attractions to keep the kids and other halves happy and it is clear the Abingdon Fayre is going from strength to strength. The only criticism that could be made is that the flying is a bit too distant - as next year may see a change in layout perhaps things will improve in that respect. Otherwise, top marks - keep up the good work chaps!
Pictures from the show are available to buy here.