Atlantique's Fifties Airshow
Airport, 12/13 August
Ian Doyle provides a short insight on
the magnificent Coventry Airshow and gets a few things off his chest with regard to
"that damn summer!"
"Not so much an Airshow review as a
statement on that awful British Summer of 2000!"
It would be an understatement to say that the Year 2000
UK airshow season was blessed with good weather. The season started in the UK somewhat
optimistically of course with glorious sunshine, and temperatures well into the 80s as the
first major event of the season, the open day at DERA Fleetlands, got under way. However,
even as I left in the late afternoon the clouds began to build up and by the time that the
M40 was reached on the long drive home, the heavens opened and it started bucketing down.
I couldn't help thinking that this might be the shape of things to come!
Suffice to say it was still bucketing down at Mildenhall a week later, but as most
readers will be aware, it got much worse as a force nine blew in that an Icelandic trawler
would have been proud of!
few days later and I almost required the need for counselling, as a very early departure
and round trip exceeding some 500 miles to RAF Coltishall proved equally fruitless as I
peered through the lens at the visitors in the surrounding gloom.
The heavy rain had almost abated to low cloud and drizzle by the time I visited Waddington in late July, oh what joy! It was,
however, to be a short respite...
... despair almost set in as RIAT
approached but salvation was at hand, almost! The three days preceding the Cottesmore show
were indeed glorious, quite magnificent, but it was to be short-lived. By Saturday
the now traditional, cold, damp, cloudy weather had returned but worse was to come, as by
Sunday a chill easterly wind meant a drop in temperature of about thirty degrees, members
of emergency services who might normally be treating sunburn and other associated
conditions found themselves in the midst of a major outbreak of hypothermia.
My depression was almost complete by August as the Airshow season was drawing to a climax,
and save for a few rapid rounds of film expensed at RIAT the camera was almost back in the
bag for another season...but not quite.
somebody whose interest is primarily military, a trip to the Air Atlantique fifties-style
Airshow at Coventry was approached with something of an open mind, but the prospect
of superb weather "at last" and the potentially excellent mix of older prop
airliners and classic fighters might just make for a reasonable day out, not least because
it provided the opportunity to withhold putting the camera in hibernation for a few weeks.
Did I say reasonable? This was awesome!
The weather forecasters were for once true to their word, and on the Saturday at least,
Coventry was bathed in glorious summer sunshine with temperatures more typical of the
norm. Access was quite excellent, affording the opportunity for some classic shots from
any angle. Although there had been precious few opportunities to get the camera out during
high summer, Coventry it seemed, might just save the day.
Saturday was billed as 'Practice Day', but in reality proved just as good, if not better,
than Sunday, when the official show was due to take place. Having arrived at just after
10:00 I was initially wondering how on earth to kill time before the action started at
13:00, but my worries proved unfounded as a quick word with a member of the Air Atlantique
media relations secured a press pass, offering the opportunity to wander unescorted across
the various aprons - this was certainly more like it!
initial worries about wandering around aimlessly proved fruitless, as the three hours
passed in a flash. This was dreamland, the opportunity to shoot the active pan with no
less than eight DC3s, a DC6, a Convair 580, an Electra, the only flying Nord Noratlas,
Vampires, Hunters, just to name a few, was unexpected, but a very welcome change. A number
of participants had arrived the day before, most notably the Noratlas, but during the
morning most of the flying display aircraft arrived and taxied onto their allocated stand.
Having used up about five rolls of Kodachrome in the morning, a change of location was
required for the actual flying display. A quick trip to the bar for a cool beer rather
than the hot Bovril I had been accustomed to this year, and the afternoon was spent lazing
by the fence as each type was put through its paces, for once there was not an F16 in
sight or any other type of 'burner.
The highlights? Too numerous to mention. The display was superb, the like of which we are
unlikely to see in this country again for some considerable time. Sadly, as Sunday dawned
the sun, which had proved so elusive throughout the summer, disappeared
once again to be replaced by low overcast conditions which was a real shame for those
attending the 'Official' show. However, for this punter at least, the shots were in the
The organisers Air Atlantique are to be congratulated on their enthusiasm in bringing
together such a varied and rich array of vintage aviation in such a unique spectacular.
Coventry was by any measure one of the shows of 2000.