Damien Burke reviews Breighton's Vintage Fly-In, 24 July
Normally Breighton would be rather too far to drive for me, particularly for an event advertised as a mere fly-in. However, given the offer of an airborne taxi there and back (thanks Martin!), it was time to give the place a go!
Our flight up from Little Gransden to Breighton was smooth, with sunny weather giving way to scattered cloud as we flew into deepest Lincolnshire and approached Yorkshire. We were lucky - the next day the weather was awful and the trip would not have been possible.
On arrival at Breighton the first eye catching thing was the Bf 109 'Buchon' parked up on the crowdline. Sadly, with various bits missing including the spinner, it was clearly not going to be flying. Once we were parked and pushed back by the friendly marshallers it was time for a visit to the cafe after the gruelling hour and a bit of flying it had taken to get here. Ten-out-of-ten for the cups of tea and assorted butties on offer... but what about the real attractions?
Lined up from one end of the airfield to the other were a mixture of visiting aircraft (both spam and more interesting historic types) and the based vintage aircraft. Ever more items of interest were turning up by the minute - a de Havilland Dove and ex-RAF Gazelle standing out in particular. In the middle of a phone call to a friend I had to cut short the conversation because "Sorry mate, six assorted warbirds are on approach!". And with that, the day really shifted into high gear with the arrival of no less than three Mustangs plus a Yak-11 and the based 'Black and blue pair' of nightfighter Hurricane and photo reconnaissance Spitfire. After a pass in formation they came back in a slightly different line-up for a run and break.
The action was soon coming thick and fast - two Harvards turned up low and fast, a display from a Pitts Special, flour bombing from an assortment of based types including Chipmunk, Tiger Moth and Bulldog, some roaring up and down the airfield from the Mew Gull, a taxi run from the 109 (big thumbs-up to all involved for that!), another Pitts, Fokker Triplane replica... and then it was time for the noisier types.
Both Spit and Hurri took to the air to display, as did the Yak-11, the based Magister and all three visiting Mustangs - the P-51s gave us some more opportunity to catch them in formation before Peter Teichmann gave a solo display in 'Jumpin' Jacques' followed by Rob Davies & Maurice Hammond strutting their stuff in 'Big Beautiful Doll' and 'Janie' respectively. For those of us who had moved down to the far end of the airfield, the proximity to the Mustangs as they roared overhead on take-off made for a particularly noisy and enjoyable experience - worth the trip for that alone!
A flypast from the BBMF Lancaster was sadly cancelled as the aircraft could not be turned around in time at RAF Coningsby, but with the amount of action we'd all seen by that point I don't think anybody could possibly have gone home disappointed. Proceedings were brought to a conclusion by an energetic display from a Harvard, and then it was time to get back in our own aircraft to depart back to Cambridgeshire. And from there to... the pub!
This was my first visit to Breighton - it certainly won't be the last. A friendly and welcoming atmosphere, lots of interesting aircraft, spirited flying and close proximity to all the action all add up to a guaranteed good day out. Those of you who have been to Old Warden may recognise the description - and in many ways Breighton has a very similar feel to it. It is a smaller venue with less room for the crowd in particular so it does get a bit packed towards the central area by the hangars and cafe, but further down the runway things are more relaxed (and can be better photographically). Find out more about where it is, and what events are on, at the Real Aeroplane Company website.