Category Archives: Airshow News Warbirds

Fatal GEICO Skytypers accident during Great Pocono Raceway Airshow training flight

SCRANTON | An aircraft from the GEICO Skytypers has crashed fatally shortly after taking off from Wilkes Barre/Scranton Airport, Pennsylvania today (Friday 20th August).

The aircraft, an SNJ-2, was taking part in practice displays for the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow, due to be held on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd August.

In a statement, the airshow organisers said: “It is with heavy hearts we can confirm the passing of a pilot with the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team following an incident at the AVP Airport in Avoca, PA.”

The GEICO Skytypers later confirmed that the pilot involved was Andy Travnicek, a commercial pilot and former C-5 Galaxy pilot with the US Air Force. He had been flying the #3 aircraft.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy and his family at this time,” the team said.

As well as skytyping, the GEICO Skytypers perform a six-ship formation display at airshows across the northern and eastern United States every year. They are one of the country’s best-known civilian airshow teams.

The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow, which is due to feature the USAF Thunderbirds, will proceed as planned this weekend. Organisers said the decision to proceed with the show was taken with the support of the GEICO Skytypers. The Skytypers are no longer listed as a performer on the show’s website.

The team were due to fly at four more airshows this year: the New York Airshow, Cleveland National Airshow, the Lockheed Martin Air & Space Show in Sanford and Warbirds Over Monroe. It is not clear how their schedule will be affected.

The Flying Bulls’ T-28 crashes fatally in Czech Republic

PRAGUE | The Flying Bulls’ T-28B Trojan has crashed fatally during a ferry flight near the Czech village of Zvíkovské Podhradí.

The accident took place at around 5pm local time on Sunday 20th June as the aircraft returned to its base in Salzburg, Austria, after participating in Antidotum Airshow Leszno in Poland. The organisation’s B-25 Mitchell, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang and Bolkow Bo.105 also participated.

According to a statement from the Flying Bulls, two people were on board at the time of the accident. The pilot, 54-year-old Rainer Steinberger, was killed in the accident, while a passenger was seriously injured and was taken to hospital in Prague.

Rainer was a greatly respected and experienced pilot as well as a dear friend to all of us,” the collection said on Facebook. “Rainer’s friends in the Flying Bulls are shocked beyond words by this tragedy and hold in their thoughts the family of Rainer and his other very many friends.”

Antidotum Airshow Leszno said there were no words to express their sorrow.

Flying Legends 2021 cancelled just two weeks after tickets went on sale

SYWELL | The first edition of Flying Legends to be held at Sywell Airfield has been cancelled due to coronavirus uncertainty.

The show’s forced eviction from its former home of IWM Duxford, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, had left the event’s future hanging in the balance, but tickets for this year’s event were finally put on sale only two weeks ago on the 12th May. Over 30 aircraft had already been confirmed.

Airshow director Nick Grey attributed the decision to comments made by the Prime Minister yesterday (Thursday 27th May) which cast doubt on plans to fully scrap lockdown rules on June 21st.

“It is with deep regret and a heavy heart that we must cancel this year’s event,” he said.  “We understand the government’s careful position but cannot safely stay the course in the light of the potential loss and lack of clarity so close to show time.”

“On a personal note and in the name of the whole team at The Fighter Collection who have worked so hard this past year to prepare the aircraft and the show itself, please know that this decision has not come lightly. We are very sad but pray that next year will be COVID free for all and that Flying Legends 2022 will be a classic.”

The airshow had in place a money-back guarantee in the event of a coronavirus-related cancellation, and the show have promised to reimburse all customers who have already purchased tickets.

Themes and first performers announced for Duxford’s 2021 Flying Days

DUXFORD | The Imperial War Museum has announced themes for all eight of its 2021 Flying Days, as well as aircraft due to perform at the first three events, as tickets are put on sale.

Held from May to October, Flying Days are small air displays intended to highlight the many airworthy aircraft based at Duxford, while also offering a chance to explore the museum itself. Each event will feature an approximately two-hour air display, according to IWM’s website, including “the best of flying, aerial choreography, storytelling and conservation success stories from IWM Duxford.”

The Flying Days will be similar in size and format to the museum’s Showcase Days, which were launched in 2019. Standard tickets cost £28.50 per adult (up from £23 last year) and £14.25 per child (up from £11). IWM members and young children under the age of 4 can attend for free, but must still reserve their place on the IWM website event capacity has been capped in line with coronavirus restrictions.

With IWM Duxford partially re-opening on the 19th April, tickets have already gone on sale for the first three Flying Days of the year, the first of which takes place in late May. Several performing aircraft have also been announced for the first three events, while all eight have been given specific themes.

They are:

  • Saturday 22nd May: Standing Together (bringing attention to mental health problems, particularly post-pandemic)
  • Sunday 6th June: Commemorating D-Day (with special focus on American fighters used during Operation Overlord)
  • Sunday 20th June: Thank You Dads (Fathers’ Day airshow with a focus on warbirds)
  • Saturday 3rd July: Behind the Scenes (recognising the important work of Duxford’s partners)
  • Wednesday 4th August: 19 Squadron Heroes (paying tribute to the arrival of the first Spitfires at Duxford)
  • Wednesday 11th August: Showtime (a day of “drama, storytelling and ‘showtime’-inspired entertainment”)
  • Thursday 19th August: Young Aviators (colourful family-focussed aerial displays)
  • Saturday 9th October: Best of 2021 (highlights of the 2021 season, hand-picked by the Flying Display Director)

The first flying display aircraft have also been announced:

  • Saturday 22nd May: PBY-5A Catalina
  • Sunday 6th June: Spitfire Mk.IXb MH434,
  • Sunday 20th June: Hurricane Mk.I P3717, PBY-5A Catalina, Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200

The Aircraft Restoration Company’s “NHS Spitfire” (Spitfire PR.XI PL983 “L”) is also listed for all three events, but it is not explicitly confirmed whether the aircraft will be flying, or if it will appear on static display.

Additionally, Duxford will hold two major airshows this year: the Summer Airshow on the 24th-25th July (previously known as the Duxford Festival) and the Battle of Britain Airshow on the 18th-19th September.

For more about Duxford’s Flying Days, read our review of one of last year’s events here and read our guide to Duxford here.

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.

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.

Flying Legends gets new home at Sywell after being forced out of Duxford

NORTHAMPTON | Sywell Airfield near Northampton will be the new home of Europe’s biggest warbird airshows, after the event was forced to leave Duxford earlier this year.

Flying Legends, which is run by Duxford-based The Fighter Collection, was left without a home in August after the Imperial War Museum suddenly decided that they would not allow the airshow to go ahead there from 2021 onwards. It is expected that IWM will host their own airshow in July in replacement of Flying Legends, to boost the museum’s revenue.

Sywell is a major warbird base which has hosted major airshows in the past – most recently in 2014. It also hosts a selection of smaller annual events, such as Pistons & Props. The airfield also houses much of Air Leasing’s warbird fleet, as well various other civilian airshow performers such as The Blades aerobatic display team.

The airfield has three grass runways – some of which may be closed to accomodate the airfield showground – and a 1,200m hard runway, as well as sturdy, permanent hangars. It is located just 40 miles from Duxford. The first edition of Flying Legends at Sywell is scheduled for the 10th-11th July 2021.

Sywell is likely to have a considerably smaller capacity than Duxford, which can welcome up to 30,000 spectators each day (although Flying Legends crowd are often smaller). Previous airshows at Sywell have had a capacity of around 10,000 visitors per day. On the map above, the old showground is marked in red. The largest possible showground is marked in pale blue – this is roughly the site layout used for the LAA Rally. This would give the crowd the closest possible view of the two parallel 03/12 runways.

The promotional poster for Flying Legends 2021 suggests a small showground (shown in yellow), roughly the same size as the old showground, but with a curved crowdline – a tantalising prospect for photographers. This layout would provide the most favourable lighting during the flying display and could allow all four runways to remain open, although it may also bring the display line close to congested areas that could be subject to additional restrictions such as minimum altitudes or a ban on aerobatics.

The longest possible crowdline length is around 500 metres – less than half of the length of the crowdline at Duxford. However, the convex shape of Duxford’s crowdline means that the display line is likely to be closer to spectators at Sywell than at Duxford.

Flying Legends’ move away from Duxford was announced in a shock statement on the 25th August, leading many to speculate that the airshow may never return.

Flying Legends has been held at Duxford for over 30 years and has become Europe’s biggest and best-known warbird airshow. The two-day annual event attracted rare warbirds from around the world, but is perhaps most famous for the “Balbo”, a huge formation of around 30 warbirds that closes out each show day.

Traditionally, Flying Legends was one of three large airshows held at Duxford each year, with the other two being organised by the airfield owners, the Imperial War Museum. The Fighter Collection are one of several classic aircraft operators to be based at the site and their aircraft typically feature both at Flying Legends and at museum-run shows.

The Fighter Collection will continue to be based at Duxford.

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.

Duxford Battle of Britain airshow cancelled, Headcorn still on, amid crackdown on gatherings

DUXFORD | This month’s Battle of Britain Airshow at Duxford has been cancelled in a surprise announcement, although AeroLegends’ show at Headcorn is still going ahead.

The Imperial War Museum said it had taken the decision to protect “the safety of our visitors and loval community,” saying it would be “irresponsible” to host the event. The show, scheduled for the 18th-20th September, was due to feature the Red Arrows, a balbo of Spitfires and dozens of other historic aircraft, and would have been the largest British airshow of 2020.

Changes to the law announced on Tuesday 8th September amid a spike in coronavirus cases will ban most gatherings of six or more people, and give police new powers to break up gatherings and issue fines. Until now, gatherings of up to six people had been permitted outdoors, although police had no power to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30 people. Outdoor events which had been deemed Covid-secure were permitted to go ahead, including a mix of drive-in and conventional air displays. The law will come into force on Monday 14th September, with fines starting at £100 and increasing to as much as £2,300 for repeat offenders.

However, the rules will not apply to some Covid-secure settings, including as hospitality venues, and in the wake of the announcement, the Imperial War Museum said they expected the airshow would still go ahead. Tickets are also still on sale for the museum’s Showcase Day on the 10th October.

Another conventional air display, the Weston Park Model Airshow on the 17th-18th October, also plans to go ahead. They said: “We are still waiting to hear the full details however it would appear this does not change anything other than a maximum of six can group together.”

They added that they understand the cap of six people applies only to events which are not deemed Covid-secure.

The Aero Legends Battle of Britain Airshow in Kent is also still going ahead on the 25th-27th September.

The Shuttleworth Collection’s three remaining drive-in shows are less likely to be affected, as they do not count as a public gathering as long as visitors remain in their assigned viewing areas.

Flying Legends Airshow will not return to Duxford, says The Fighter Collection

DUXFORD | One of the world’s largest warbird airshows, Flying Legends, is on the hunt for a new venue, after it was announced that the show will not return to its iconic home at IWM Duxford.

Nick Grey of The Fighter Collection, which organises Flying Legends, said in a statement: “It is with a heavy heart that we confirm 2019 was the final Flying Legends with our friends at IWM Duxford. We truly hope that our team will find an alternative location to welcome this iconic event and that we will have the privilege of seeing you all again.”

Flying Legends has been held at Duxford for over 30 years and has become Europe’s biggest and best-known warbird airshow. The two-day annual event attracted rare warbirds from around the world, but is perhaps most famous for the “Balbo”, a huge formation of around 30 warbirds that closes out each show day.

Traditionally, Flying Legends was one of three large airshows held at Duxford each year, with the other two being organised by the Imperial War Museum, which owns the airfield. The Fighter Collection are one of several classic aircraft operators to be based at the site and their aircraft typically feature both at Flying Legends and at museum-run shows.

The 2020 edition of Flying Legends was due to be held on the 11th-12th July, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with the Duxford Air Festival. The final Duxford show of the year, the Battle of Britain Airshow, is still planned to go ahead on the 18th-20th September.

In a statement published by UK Airshow Review, the Imperial War Museum said the decision was taken due to financial pressures sustained by the museum during the pandemic, which forced them to “examine all future events … to ensure that, as a charity, the organisation is able to maximise income and remain financially stable.”

It was therefore mutually agreed that TFC would seek an alternative location to host Flying Legends, which will be confirmed at a later date,” they added.

John Brown, IWM’s Executive Director of Commerce & Operations, said that The Fighter Collection would continue to be a “highly valued partner”. Its aircraft will remain based at Duxford and will continue to be displayed throughout the year.

We are confident that Flying Legends will continue with its success and would like to thank them for entertaining audiences at IWM Duxford over the years,” he said. “We will be making some exciting changes to our own Air Show programme for next year and look forward to sharing more details in the coming months.”