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There's Injuns in them thar hills2001 Airshow, 8/9 September

Duxford's Indian Summer...

...Although you would not have believed it given the weather. A cold northerly breeze dominated the weekend, presenting some difficulties for some of the acts, plus leaden skies on Sunday gave a distinctly end-of-year feel to proceedings. Yet we still have the Autumn airshow to go! Gary Parsons reports from the plains of Cambridgeshire.

Providing the Indian flavour were two Westland-Agusta WAH-64D Apaches, fresh from Middle Wallop and the Army Air Corps’ build-up for the type’s Clickintroduction into front-line service next year. Having no reservation (sorry) about putting them through their paces, a full flying demonstration was offered, a singleton on Saturday being increased to a duo on Sunday, both machines giving a sioux-per (sorry) spectacular display of agility. Saturday saw the two Apaches formate with a Harrier GR7 in a demonstration of Joint Services’ ground support, one of the major themes of this year’s September airshow. On Sunday the Harrier became a Scout, not so impressive, but different all the same.

Anything the Harrier can do...An Army agglomeration

Rather ponderously called ‘Air support to soldiers on the ground’, the running order featured such army co-operation types as the Bristol Fighter, Blenheim, Lysander, Tornado and, of course, the Harrier GR7. The latter was also central to another theme, that of celebrating 20(R) Squadron itself, the squadron having operated most of the types listed previously.


Tony, back in a Spitfire after sixty years

On Saturday 8 September, Duxford was delighted to welcome Thorsteinn 'Tony' Jonsson - the RAF's only Icelandic Pilot. 'Tony' scored eight 'kills' - four of them on D-Day - during his time with 111 and 65 Squadrons.

Born in Reykjavik, Iceland on 19 October 1921, Tony's desire for adventure and to become a pilot led him to travel to the UK in April 1940 to join the RAF. After training, he was posted to 17 Squadron in July 1941 as a Sergeant, flying Hurricanes. In September of that year, he was posted to 111 Squadron on Spitfires and promoted to Flight Sergeant.

At the beginning of 1943 he was awarded a DFM after a succession of victories including those during Operation Torch (the invasion of French North-West Africa) and the summer of 1944 flying Mustangs. 'Tony' left the RAF in December 1946 and joined lcelandair as an airline pilot, flying domestically and internationally for the next twenty years.

The Army theme was complemented by the appearance of the Historic Flight, heading the finale together with the Apaches. Flung around in the breeze, the Austers of the 'Military Auster Flight' joined the AAC's Beaver in leading a merry dance before giving centre stage to the Apaches and the future of Army aviation.

Representing the soldiers themselves was the parachute display team ‘Red Devils’, jumping from a C-47 rather than their normal Islander mount. We all thought they would jump overhead Huntingdon given the strength of the wind, but their skill knew no obstacle, and bang on the marker they were.

Flying fogeys
Hawker Cygnet
Avro 504K
Bristol Fighter
Hawker Tomtit

Hawkers to the fore

With so many Hawker designs present, it was only appropriate that the show paid tribute to Sir Sydney Camm, designer and instigator of so many of the British aircraft industry’s finest aircraft. From the Cygnet, Camm's first design, to the Harrier, designs such as Hurricane, Sea Fury and Hunter were displayed with vigour. Classic Jets' ‘WB188’, ably piloted by Craig Penrice, looked magnificent in the spells of sunshine on Saturday and joined by OFMC's T8 XJ615, it was another fitting tribute to the Hunter in its fiftieth year. Let's hope that next year will see both Classic Jets' 'WB188's in formation together!

No less than five Hurricanes were present, four providing a marvellous spectacle as they flew in formation - if only the BBMF’s machine could have joined in! Four Spitfires also performed, but so blasť have we become about Spits that this hardly featured on the ‘wow’ scale.

On a lighter note (literally), the brave Cygnet pilot deserved an award for keeping it moving forward in the gusting winds - it came to a complete halt on occasion!

Salute to 20 Squadron

The Harrier also played a part in celebrating the existence of 20 Squadron, today in its reserve squadron form as the official OCU for the Harrier force. Quite why a tribute was being made to the squadron wasn't particularly clear, as it isn't any significant anniversary, but the unit has a strong tradition of army co-operation and it was a good excuse to show representative types such as the Avro 504K and Brisfit.

The RAF Regiment's recruiting campaign goes a bit too far...Old favourites

Jets old and new(er)Sally B’ was again in action at her home base, but misfortune once again struck as she landed on Sunday. Several puffs of smoke could be seen as she landed with some real screams of protest from the tyres - when she pulled off the runway onto the taxiway one of the crew jumped out and joined the firecrew in taking a good hard look at the mainwheels, a brake fire feared, but fortunately there seemed no harm done. She seems to ride her luck at the moment - let’s hope that she will have an mishap-free future from now on, she deserves it! Next year will see her busy as it will be the 60th anniversary of the arrival of USAAF forces for the Second World War, so she needs to be in the rudest of health.

In action once again was TFC’s Skyraider, together with two T-28 Trojans, or Fennecs as they actually are, flown by John Romain and Martin Willing. Representing ‘Close air support’ to the army, the tubby T-28s were thrown about by their pilots, the Aircraft Restoration Co.'s camo-example contrasting nicely with OFMC's all-silver 51-7692/G-TROY.

Twin air bags?New favourites

An unusual display item was Air Atlantique's Twin Pioneer G-APRS which performed a remarkably sprightly take-off in the stiff breeze - many thought it had vertical take-off capabilities! This ability was especially fortunate on the Sunday as RAF C-130J decided to reverse towards the grass strip just as the Twin Pioneer was rolling...

No hurries mate...The C-130J (ZH884) threatened to do a display on arrival on Saturday, but just as we expected the demo to start it landed. Sunday saw a take-off, then disappearance...a shame that a few passes couldn't have been made. The listed Jaguar failed to appear for ‘operational’ reasons, leaving the RAF presence to the Tornado, BBMF, Nimrod and Harrier. Oh, and the Reds of course, who commenced proceedings Saturday lunchtime and closed them Sunday evening. So, a good entertaining mix of old, new, familiar and no-so-familiar was this September's show - just one more this year to go!


TFC's enormous Skyraider - never has a single piston engine worked so hard


Welcome to the ugly bug ball Hurricane in black
Sea Hurricane Lancaster TFC's Spitfire
Tornado! Classic Jets' fabulous Hunter 'WB188' Lynx AH7

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