Duxford Autumn Air Show 2000 Trip

Lancaster & Concorde in Hangar 1Your intrepid Web Master and his wife decided it was time for a week-end break in the UK but there’s not much to do in October, so someone, who’ll remain nameless, suggested to go to the Autumn Air Show at Duxford.

We departed on Thursday to Heysham, visited Fleetwood Market, the Trafford Centre, and Cheshire Oaks while staying at my cousin’s in Wigan. Here we surfed the ‘net looking for accommodation near Duxford and eventually booked into the Fairhaven. Saturday was a late start due the previous night’s activities but it only took about 3 to 4 hours to get to the Fairhaven in Kneesworth, about 5 miles from Duxford.

Sunday, the day of the show dawned like a beautiful Summer’s Day. We rose early, had a sumptuous breakfast, thanked our hosts, then departed for the show. We arrived at about 10:00am and parked quite easily but noticed that it was already starting to get busy and would get very busy as the day progressed.

We were parked at the wrong end so we walked to Hangar 1 where, to name a few, a Concorde, Lancaster Bomber and Sunderland Flying Boat are held. From here we visited the other hangars which obviously contained other aircraft but also showing several under rebuild. From here we visited the American Air Museum which is totally gob smacking and awe inspiring; to get up close to a B-17, a SuperFortress, and part of the Iraqi Supergun was incredible. From here we went to the Land Warfare Hall, and being a military vehicle enthusiast, found this superb. I’m still trying to puzzle out how they did some of the diorama, the ones with the vehicles going through a wall or building – did they build the structures around the vehicles or build the structures first then drove the vehicles into them; they were so lifelike.

Spitfire & KittyhawkAfter here we had a spot of lunch and it was now coming up to 2:00pm when the flying programme was about to commence. First up were some modern day aerobatics and it became fairly clear to me that I’d need to acquire a pair of binoculars quite quickly, so off I went searching through the many stalls.

It was now a very warm sunny day, shirt sleeve weather like Summer, perfect for flying and Duxford was packed. Obviously the flying programme was the high-light of the day and after the aerobatics we were treated to a tribute of 75 years of De Haviland, namely a Dragon Rapide, Leopard Moth, Hornet Moth and Chipmonk. Next came a Bristol Blenheim, then Sally B and escort fighters which is the only flying B-17 in the UK escorted by several P-51 Mustangs – this was the high-light of the flying programme for me; seeing a B-17 flying and looking so magnificent was a real treat, knowing that several of these crashed on the Isle of Man during the war, so one starts to comprehend the loss of life, and destruction caused.

There were also some aerobatics by vintage biplanes, namely a 1930s Stampe duo, but the main display was by aircraft that took part in the Korean War as the year 2000 was the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. Although jets were first seen in World War Two, it was the Korean War were they played a big part and tactics started to change. British and Commonwealth military personnel were involved in most of this war as part of the United Nations forces and over 1600 lost their lives. As part of the Korean Tribute we saw the likes of a Military Auster Flight, Harvard duo, Douglas Skyraider and Grumman Avenger, Hawker Sea Fury, Douglas A-26b Invader, Grumman Hellcat, Chance Vought Corsair, Grumman Tigercat, and from the jets, an English Electric Canbera, Lockeed T-33 and Gloster Meteor 8.

Chance Vought CorsairThe programme was wrapped up by the Breitling Team, a formation aerobatic team led by a former Red Arrows leader, which consisted of a P-40 Kittyhawk, Chance Vought Corsair, P-51 Mustang and Spitfire Mk IX.

After the flying programme finished we mingled around the stalls and I resisted purchasing some models, particularly some old ones that I had as a child, however I couldn’t resist in purchasing a print of a picture titled "Band of Brothers" which features a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane. The aircrafts depict Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC, 617 Squadron, Squadron Leader R R Stamford Tuck, 257 Squadron, and Wing Commander Douglas Bader, who flew in a presentation Spitfire from the Isle of Man.

With the day almost over we left early to avoid getting stuck in traffic with everyone else leaving and made our way back to Wigan.

Monday was spent meeting the in-laws who had also taken a week-end break, but in Liverpool, so off we went to visit some relatives of my wife in Widnes, before catching the Super Sea Cat home.

To round off, for Christmas I got the Duxford 2000 Airshow video from the September show which was the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, however there was a bonus DVD bungled with the package which contains footage of all airshows during the year.

B17 "Sally B" & Grumman Hellcat