Category Archives: Airshow News Europe

Two airshows & ten “Flying Days” on IWM Duxford’s 2021 event calendar

DUXFORD | The Imperial War Museum will be holding two major airshows and ten “flying days” at Duxford next year, according to their provisional 2021 event calendar.

The two major airshows will maintain Duxford’s now-familiar Air Festival and Battle of Britain themes, with each event taking place over two and three days respectively. However, in a change from their typical schedule, the Air Festival will be moving to a new slot in late July, rather than late May.

This follows the forced move of the annual Flying Legends Airshow from Duxford to Sywell. Flying Legends, which is organised by The Fighter Collection, had traditionally been held in mid-July, but the Imperial War Museum terminated their agreement to host the show, wishing to hold their own flying display in July instead. It had been hoped that Duxford would, therefore, continue to host three major airshows per year in total, although instead of setting up a new July event, the May show has been moved into a new July slot.

The 2021 airshow season faces considerable uncertainty, with social distancing expected to remain necessary at least until the middle of the year. It is possible that the Imperial War Museum have decided not to host a May show next year because of this, with a view to adding a third annual airshow in 2021.

In addition to their main airshows, the museum will also hold ten Flying Days between April and October. These appear to be a rebranding of the “Showcase Days” introduced in 2019, although they have been considerably increased in number. Each Flying Day will have a different theme, such as D-Day or of Duxford’s 19 Squadron, with pop-up exhibits around the museum and flying displays in the afternoon.

The 2021 event calendar is as follows:

  • Sunday 24th April: Flying Day
  • Sunday 8th May: Flying Day
  • Saturday 22nd May: Flying Day
  • Sunday 6th June: Flying Day
  • Sunday 20th June: Flying Day
  • Saturday 3rd July: Flying Day
  • Saturday 24th-Sunday 25th July: Duxford Air Festival
  • Wednesday 4th August: Flying Day
  • Wednesday 11th August: Flying Day
  • Thursday 19th August: Flying Day
  • Friday 17th-Sunday 19th September: Battle of Britain Airshow
  • Sunday 9th October: Flying Day

You can read our guide to air displays at Duxford here.

Sea Vixen return-to-flight effort ends due to lack of funds

YEOVILTON | Navy Wings have decided to halt efforts to return their beloved Sea Vixen to flight, following a gear-up landing in 2017.

Photo: James Connolly

The organisation had hoped that a “white knight” sponsor would step in to fund the estimated £2 million repairs, but despite a fundraising appeal and searching for individuals and organisations that may be willing to fund the restoration, none have been forthcoming.

In a statement on their website, Navy Wings said the coronavirus pandemic had forced them to re-evaluate their business plan to ensure that some of the aircraft can be back in the air next year. They said they had “carefully considered” the future of the Sea Vixen, but “the Board of Trustees has reluctantly made the decision to stop investing vital funds into preparing her for flight.

Navy Wings will now focus its efforts on restoring its Sea Fury FB.11, which will one day fly alongside its Sea Fury T.20.

“It is difficult having to make choices between historically important and beautiful aircraft,” Navy Wings said. “They all have their place in our story. We will not do anything to render the Sea Vixen unfit to fly in case someone comes forward in the future and she will continue to be a star attraction at Yeovilton Air Day.

“This classic Fleet Air Arm fighter and icon of the Cold War will always have a special place in the hearts of many and continue to impress and inspire for years to come.”

Sea Vixen FAW.2 XP924 (G-CVIX) was forced to make a gear-up landing at Yeovilton in May 2017, when the landing gear failed to lower. Although the pilot was praised for a textbook landing, structural damage to the aircraft was unavoidable.

XP924 was the world’s only flying Sea Vixen at the time of the accident, and none have flown since then.

Luchtmachtdagen 2021 not compatible with coronavirus restrictions, says Dutch MOD

GILZE-RIJEN| The Dutch Ministry of Defence has decided not to host its traditional Luchtmachtdagen airshow next year, saying the event is not compatible with coronavirus restrictions.

After weeks of speculation, the official cancellation of Luchtmachtdagen 2021 has been anticipated for some time. It has become the fourth European airshow of 2021 to fall victim to coronavirus uncertainty, with airshow organisers uncertain which social distancing rules may be in force next summer.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) said that if restrictions were applied to visitors and participants, the show would lose its original form and purpose.

The Air Force also said that, following the end of coronavirus restrictions, the priority would be taking part in international military exercises, rather than staging air displays. Much of the Air Force’s essential training takes place at international exercises, which have mostly been cancelled this year, leaving pilots and crew out of practice.

Luchtmachtdagen, meaning “Air Force Days”, is one of Europe’s largest military airshows, and the only one to be held in the Netherlands. It is traditionally held each June at one of the country’s major military air bases: Volkel, Leeuwarden, or, as with next year, Gilze-Rijen. As well as a large number of international military performers, it usually features impressive role demonstrations from the RNLAF. It usually attracts around 250,000 visitors.

Unlike many European air arms, the RNLAF does not have full-time display teams. Aside from the popular AH-64D Apache solo display, the most of the RNLAF’s performances at Luchtmachtdagen are one-off displays, planned and practiced specifically for the two-day show.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Shuttleworth Collection plans to host 10 airshows in 2021

OLD WARDEN | The Shuttleworth Collection is planning a full airshow season next year, with most events already confirmed to be drive-in events.

Ten airshows, each with a distinct theme, will take place between May and October, including four evening air displays. Most events up until mid-August are already confirmed to be drive-in events, while later shows will be held in a more conventional format if possible.

As well as some of Shuttleworth’s traditional themes, there will also be several new event themes in 2021. The biggest shake-up sees the traditional mid-August Flying Proms being replaced by the Flying Circus, an evening event that will feature barnstorming air displays combined with traditional circus acts on the ground. It is hoped that the Proms, which are harder to run in a socially-distant manner, will return in 2022.

Among the other shows, one will pay tribute to the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition held across the UK in 1951. The Scurry of Chipmunks Airshow will bring together large numbers of Chipmunks and de Havilland Moths, and the Flying for Fun Airshow will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Light Aircraft Association. The Collection’s most popular show, the Military Airshow, will return in its usual early July slot.

In an effort to make ticket costs more flexible, ticketing for drive-in shows will be completely revamped in 2021. Each group of visitors must purchase either a 5×5 metre car space for £10, a 4.8×5 metre oversize car space for £20, or a 2.5×5 metre space for visitors attending on foot or bicycle. The latter will cost £5 and has a capacity of two people. In addition, each visitor must purchase an entry ticket for themselves, which cost £26 per adult until the end of February, rising to £34 thereafter. The Flying Circus is slightly more expensive than other scheduled airshows.

Some end-of-season airshows are currently not being marketed as drive-in airshows, although the drive-in ticketing system currently applies. If the Collection are able to follow a more traditional airshow format, the cost of parking or viewing spaces will be refunded.

The Collection’s 2021 schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday 2nd May: Season Premiere Airshow (drive-in)
  • Saturday 15th May: Spies and Intrigue Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 6th June: Flying Festival of Britain (drive-in)
  • Saturday 19th June: Scurry of Chipmunks Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 4th July: Military Airshow (drive-in)
  • Saturday 17th July: Flying for Fun Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 1st August: Need for Speed Family Airshow
  • Saturday 14th August: Flying Circus (drive-in)
  • Saturday 4th-Sunday 5th September: Vintage Weekend Airshow (air display on Sunday only)
  • Saturday 2nd-Sunday 3rd October: Race Weekend (air display on Saturday only)

The Shuttleworth Collection held several successful drive-in airshows in July, August and September 2020.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

First UK airshow cancellation of 2021 as plug pulled on Scotland’s National Airshow

EAST FORTUNE | Scotland’s National Airshow, hosted by Scotland’s National Museum of Flight, will not be held in 2021.

In a statement, organisers said: “To deliver next year’s Airshow, planning and booking of display aircraft would have to start now and it’s too soon to know whether the current restrictions in response to the outbreak of Covid-19 will be fully lifted by next summer.”

Typically a one-day event held in late July, Scotland’s National Airshow was also cancelled in 2020.

Many other UK airshows are planning to go ahead next year in a socially-responsible manner. For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Peter Teichman’s “Russian Spitfire” makes first post-restoration flight

NORTH WEALD | The sole surviving Spitfire to serve with the Soviet Air Force has taken to the sky for the first time in 75 years.

The aircraft, owned by the Hangar 11 Collection’s Peter Teichman since 2001, made its first flight today (28th October 2020) from Biggin Hill Airfield in the hands of Pete Kynsey, after a lengthy restoration by the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

Spitfire Mk.IX PT879 was one of over 1,300 Spitfires shipped to the Soviet Union during the second half of WWII. The aircraft crashed in 1945 after less than 30 flight hours and was written off, before being shipped back to the UK for storage in the 1990s.

The aircraft was issued a Permit to Test from the Civil Aviation Authority yesterday and will undergo a rigerous series of test flights before hopefully being granted a Permit to Fly.

Peter Teichman largely retired from airshow flying after the 2018 display season, although his aircraft attended a handful of events in 2019, being displayed by other pilots.

Urgent call for donations to rescue Catalina stranded on Loch Ness

INVERNESS | The operators UK’s only flying PBY-5 Catalina are asking for £20,000 to rescue their aircraft from Loch Ness, after it became stranded due to engine problems.

This wasn’t your everyday Shout on Loch Ness…!!!More details will follow tomorrow, but all the crew from the…

Posted by RNLI Loch Ness on Saturday, 17 October 2020

The aircraft had been operating from the lake while conducting filming work and renewing its crew’s water pilot ratings. However, on Saturday 17th October, a failed starter motor meant the aircraft was unable to depart. While waiting to be towed ashore by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, another boat collided with the Catalina, smashing one of its blister windows.

The crew were rescued unharmed, and the aircraft towed to Urquhart Bay, where it was hoped it could be repaired and flown to its base at Duxford or to Inverness for further work. However, the aircraft’s operators have since determined that it will cost thousands of pounds to rescue the plane.

A GoFundMe campaign says the aircraft must be extracted from the Loch in order for the damaged engine to be replaced, before being returned to the water for the flight home. “Otherwise she will be at the mercy of the harsh Scottish winter on a Loch rather than her usual cosy hanger in Duxford. The damage this could do to the aircraft could be irreparable,” the fundraiser says.

Costs include transporting the replacement engine from Duxford to Loch Ness, hiring a crane to lift the aircraft into and out of the water, and hiring a second crane to replace the engine. Plane Sailing, who operate the aircraft, said the logistics involved would be “massive”.

The aircraft, registered G-PBYA and known affectionately as “Miss Pick-up”, is a former fire-bomber turned airshow performer, which was most recently displayed at Duxford’s final Showcase Day of the year earlier in the month. The Catalina is an amphibious aircraft, designed to be able to take off and land from water.

Two units to field French Air Force’s Rafale Tactical Display in 2021

MONT DE MARSAN | The French Air & Space Force will field a pair of teams as part of the Rafale Tactical Display in 2021, flying under the names Requin Mike and Bravo Vautour.

Photo: Peter Lawrence

The Rafale Tactical Display, designed to demonstrate the Rafale’s combat ability, was founded in 2019, replacing the previous Couteau Delta tactical display, flying the Mirage 2000D. Although previewed at NATO Tiger Meet at Mont-de-Marsan that year, the Rafale Tactical Display was due to make its public airshow debut in 2020.

Displays were to be fielded by 30 Squadron at Mont-de-Marsan or 30 Squadron at Saint Dizier, depending on availability, with 30 Squadron’s team operating under the name Rogues Victor and 4 Squadron flying as Requin Mike.

Although 2020’s show season was cancelled, the Rafale Tactical Display is now on track to make its public debut in 2021, with both units still slated to field demonstration teams. Saint Dizier’s team will fly a pair of Rafale Cs, and will again be called Requin Mike – a name paying tribute to a past St. Dizier tactical demonstration team, Raffin Mike, flying the Jaguar. Meanwile, Mont-de-Marsan’s team has been renamed Bravo Vautour, flying two Rafale Bs fitted with an assortment of external fuel tanks. The name refers to the Sud Aviation Vautour, which served with the French Air Force in the 1960s.

Both teams were validated by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force at Salon-de-Provence in July 2020. They will perform alongside the French Air Force’s other display teams: the Patrouille de France, Rafale C solo display, Alpha Jet solo display and A400M tactical display – as well as the air arm’s competition aerobatics team, the Equipe de Voltige. They also join the French Navy’s Rafale M tactical display teams, which come from Flotille 11 and Flotille 12.

The Rafale Tactical Display continues the French Air Force’s long tradition of staging acclaimed two-ship tactical demonstrations, taking the baton from Couteau Delta and Ramex Delta on the Mirage 2000D and Mirage 2000N respectively, Raffin Mike on the Jaguar A and Voltige Victor on the Mirage F1.

Patrouille Suisse resume flying activities today for first time since spring 2020

EMMEN | The Patrouille Suisse are today embarking on a month-long training course, marking the resumption of their flying activities for the first time since the spring.

The team will conduct training flights between one and three times per day at locations around northern and central Switzerland, on the weeks starting on the 12th October, 19th October and 2nd of November. While the team will operate from their base at Emmen, practices will take place over Emmen, Schrattenfluh, Wangen-Lachen, Bellechasse and Payerne. The full training schedule can be found here.

Unlike many aerobatic teams, the Swiss Air Force’s Patrouille Suisse is composed of full-time fighter pilots, who serve with the team in addition to their regular duties. A short period of intensive training typically takes place each spring, shortly before the start of the airshow season. However, this year’s training was delayed until August as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Europe, and was later set back even further.

The Patrouille Suisse’s October-November training course will conclude long after the planned conclusion of the team’s 2020 display season. There are currently no public appearances scheduled, although training flights will often be accessible to the public. Spotters have been asked to adhere to health guidelines while attending the practice displays.

The Patrouille Suisse are the only official western European aerobatic team to fly an in-service front-line fighter: the F-5E Tiger II. However, the team’s long-term future is considered by some to be insecure, because the type is soon due for retirement. The Swiss government is planning on procuring 30-40 new F-35As, F/A-18 Super Hornets, Dassault Rafales or Eurofighter Typhoons to replace their 34 “Legacy” F/A-18C/D Hornets and 36 F-5E/F Tiger IIs by 2030, but the order may not be sufficient to replace the six F-5Es permanently assigned to the Patrouille Suisse.

UK aviation museums and restoration groups get share of £1.6bn recovery fund

LONDON | Organisations helping to keep British aviation heritage alive will get hundreds of thousands of pounds in government funding to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost £1.6 billion pounds has been allocated to help museums, heritage sites and entertainment venues struggling because of restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the disease. Over 400 organisations will benefit from £67 million pounds in grants from the Culture Recovery Fund, which is being administered by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Taking the largest sum in the aviation sector is the Shuttleworth Collection, which will recieve more than £620,000. The museum is home to a large collection of airworthy aircraft and historic vehicles, many of which are the last working examples of their kind. They also host bi-monthly airshows through the summer months – a key source of revenue – but a combination of poor weather and virus restrictions has meant that only four have gone ahead this year, leaving the museum critically short of income at the end of the airshow season.

A further £280,000 has been awarded to Navy Wings, a civilian organisation tasked with restoring and maintaining a number of ex-Royal Navy aircraft, such as Sea Vixen G-CVIX and Sea Fury FB.11 VR930.

Commodore Jock Alexander OBE, Chief Executive of Navy Wings, said the funding was a “lifeline” after a year with no airshows, which has seen the organisation temporarily ground their aircraft and lose “thousands of pounds of income”.

The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Centre were “thrilled” to be awarded over £420,000 and the Boscomb Down Aviation Collection recieved £28,000, while £12,000 and £11,000 went to the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum and the Nimrod Preservation Group respectively.