Category Archives: Airshow News Warbirds

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.”

Sea Fury T.20 WG566 makes crash-landing near Duxford

DUXFORD | A pilot and passenger made a lucky escape as The Fighter Collection’s Sea Fury T.20 crashed during the Imperial War Museum’s first Duxford Showcase Day of the year today (4th August 2020).

Sea Fury T.20 WG566 was severely damaged in a forced landing in an area of woods near the village of Harston during a routine flight from Duxford with two people on board.

The aircraft was seen departing Runway 24 at around 4pm, following the conclusion of the event’s official flying display, and photos emerged of the aircraft lying, badly damaged, among bushes and trees. The Imperial War Museum said the aircraft sustained “significant damage” and suffered a fuel leak. The two occupants survived with minor injuries.

Duxford’s firefighting team assisted the Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service at the scene of the crash, causing Duxford airfield to temporarily close to traffic.

WG566 flew in the UK during the late 1980s before suffering an engine failure, and was taken to New Zealand and later the United States for repairs. It returned to the UK in 2009 and was a regular sight on the airshow circuit until it was grounded by long-running engine problems. The aircraft flew again in 2018 and is now operated by the Aircraft Restoration Company and owned by the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation. Since then, it has performed at several airshows and offered pleasure flights.

Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła’s second TS-11 Iskra takes flight, paving the way for formation displays

WARSAW | Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła (the Red & White Wings foundation) have successfully flown their second TS-11 Iskra, which will allow them to perform formation aerobatic displays at airshows.

Zrobiliśmy to! Po 6 miesiącach odbudowy oblataliśmy naszą drugą Iskrę. ✈️✈️Czy nie prezentują się cudownie? 😍…….

Posted by Fundacja Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła on Monday, 27 July 2020

Following a six-month rebuild, the foundation announced on the 27th July that they had flown their second jet, posting a video of their two Iskras flying in formation. The new two-ship airshow performance had been expected to be debuted at Gdynia AeroBaltic in August, which has unfortunately been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The TS-11 Iskra (Polish for “Spark”) is a single engine training and light attack aircraft which first flew in 1960, and was the first Polish-built jet aircraft. Originally intended to serve as the primary advanced jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact, the Iskra lost out to the L-29 Delfin, but nonetheless served with the Polish Air Force, Polish Navy and Indian Air Force.

A small number of TS-11s remain in service with the Polish Air Force, most notably with their main aerobatic team, Team Iskra. However, they are expected to be retired by 2021, being replaced by the Leonardo M-346 Bielik. Several Iskras also fly in civilian hands, mainly in the United States, with Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła operating the only two civilian examples flying in Europe.

Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła’s first Iskra was recieved from Poland’s Military Property Agency in November 2013, and was returned to flight six months later. Last year at AeroBaltic, the aircraft performed solo displays and car races, as well as a pyrotechnic display at sunset in formation with Artur Keilak in his XA-42 – possibly the first jet aircraft to attempt such a feat.

In addition to the pair of TS-11s, Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła also operate an Antonov An-2 and the 3AT3 formation team, flying a trio of AT-3 light aircraft, built and designed by Polish company Aero Aircraft Technologies. They are also restoring a further aircraft, although details have not been made public. The organisation’s aim is to promote Polish military aviation at home and abroad.

The Victory Show to be held for the final time in 2020

COSBY | One of Britain’s largest Second World War-themed events is to be staged for the final time next year, the organisers announced today.

The 2020 show, which is expected to bring together vintage aircraft, vehicles and combat re-enactors, will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

However, the event organisers said on social media today: “The Victory Show dates for 2020 will be 11th, 12th & 13th September. This will be our FINAL SHOW!! After fifteen amazing years of running the best event of its type in the UK we will be closing our gates for the last time.

“We would like to thank all who have contributed to the show in every capacity, especially our lovely friends of WWII.”

In the past, The Victory Show was regarded as one of Britain’s premier warbird airshows. However, it ran into problems in 2016, when restrictions on the display box imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority made flying all but impossible, and forced the cancellation of the aerial displays.

The show returned in 2018 with a modified curved display line, which proved popular with photographers, but precluded traditional aerobatic performances.

UK and France mark D-Day anniversary with historic flypasts

Large-scale flypasts in southern England and northern France marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Wednesday 5th June.

The Daks Over Normandy event brought together over 30 vintage Dakotas from around the world, coinciding with official commemorations in Portsmouth and in Normandy.

The UK’s official commemorative event was be held at Southsea Common in Portsmouth on Wednesday 5th June, attended by the Queen, the British Prime Minister, the US President, 16 other world leaders and 300 veterans of the operation.

The event included flypasts of 25 military aircraft, including a Spitfire, Hurricane, Wildcat helicopter, two Merlins, two Hercules, a Sentinel, A330 Voyager, four Hawk T.1s, two Typhoon FGR.4s and the nine Hawk T.1As of the Red Arrows. The Red Arrows returned for a full flying display later in the afternoon.

On the same day, a formation of over 20 Dakotas, escorted by P-51D Mustangs, Beech 18s and T-6 Texans, took off from Duxford en-route to France as the culmination of Daks Over Duxford. In addition, Duxford saw warbird displays and flypasts, flying displays by C-47s and DC-3s and a flyby from the United States Air Force over the weekend.

The main Dakota formation flew low over Colchester, Southend-on-Sea, Medway, Maidstone and Eastbourne before crossing the English Channel to France, flying over Le Havre before commencing a parachute drop at Sannerville, landing at Caen shortly afterwards.

Also on the 5th June, a variety of aircraft staged flypasts and parachute jumps at Carentan, including Dakotas, Spitfires, a Staggerwing and military aircraft from France, the UK and the USA. Hundreds  of jumpers took part, including re-enaction groups and military teams such as the  Red Devils and Golden Knights. Several veterans of the operation also participated in tandem jumps.

The French and US heads of state met in France on the Thursday 6th June for further commemorative events, which included a flypast of specially-painted F-15s. On the same day, the RAF Red  Arrows staged a flypast over Arromanches.

Further jumps from the US military and historic aircraft continued around Caen over the following days.

World’s last flying Meteor NF.11 makes final flight

BRUNTINGTHORPE | The UK’s last flying Gloster Meteor in private hands touched down for the final time on Saturday 5th January, and will now be maintained in a taxyable condition.

Meteor NF.11 WM167 arrived at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome as part of a celebratory ticketed event. Other classic aircraft, including a Vampire T.11 and Strikemaster Mk.80A, joined the Meteor for an impromptu fly-in.

WM167 was built in Coventry in 1952 and flew with the Royal Air Force  until 1975, seeing out the final years of its service as a target tug. It was  purchased by a private collector and reverted to NF.11 configuration shortly afterwards.

The jet was operated until recently by the Classic Air Force, a now-defunct aviation museum and warbird operator based first in Coventry and then Newquay. She was a regular airshow performer during this time, and the only flying Night Fighter Meteor in the world. The charity, who owned two Meteors, folded in early 2016.

Both Meteors, as well as two ex-CAF Venoms, were purchased by American collector Marty Tibbitts in 2017. The first Meteor, T.7 WA591, was taken to the United States and made its American airshow debut at Oshkosh last summer, while the remaining jets stayed in the UK. Meteor NF.11 WM167 was donated to the Classic British Jets Collection at Bruntingthorpe following Tibbitt’s death in an accident last July.

The jet will be maintained in a fast-taxy condition, along with a collection of other Cold War-era jets at Bruntingthorpe, and will likely participate in public events such as the biannual Cold War Jets fast-taxy events.

A further pair of UK-based Meteors are used by Martin Baker as testbeds for their ejector seats, but these are rarely seen in public. The only other airworthy Meteor in the world is a Meteor F.8 owned by the Temora Aviation Museum in Australia.