Frank Togher reports from Shoreham's 2005 airshow, held over 3/4 September. Pictures by the author and Bob Franklin
On a sunny weekend in September, the Shoreham airshow can be a very pleasant day out - atmospheric and busy without being too crowded, with a good mix of vintage and jet aircraft. The annual displays here have been hugely successful in supporting the RAFA charity with in excess of £1m donated over the sixteen years, and with good attendance this year that trend looks to continue.
With the crowds still arriving, Mark Jeffries in his home built Laser Z200 opened the show with some 'sky painting', before running into a well rehearsed programme. Next up, the Red Devils had some problems with altitude clearance from Gatwick and had to do an ultra-low level drop after cramming themselves into a Lynx helicopter.
RAF participation included two rare flypasts for Shoreham - the Red Arrows on the Saturday (only the second in sixteen years) and a 29(R) Squadron Typhoon T1, flown by Flt Lt Anthony Parkinson on Saturday, himself a former Red Arrow and Tornado F3 display pilot, who had joined regular display pilot Matt Elliott at Biggin Hill for the weekend. In addition, a Tucano, a Harrier GR7 and Hawk all gave full demonstrations. Perhaps best of all was the Chinook, flown by Flt Lt Carl Zarecky, who once again displayed the twelve-tonne helicopter around the sky.
Unusually for me, it was the civil acts that stole the headlines for 2005, with Denny Dobson in his Extra 300 giving the solo display of the weekend, including his 'usual' ribbon cutting routine alongside a superb display of airmanship. Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones in their Red Bull sponsored Team Matador Sukhois probably giving the best team display with their first-class formation aerobatics.
Sponsorship continues to be important to the airshow circuit and it was good to see it in evidence with Utterly Butterly, Shepherd Neame Breweries (ARCo Spitfires), Honda (Will Curtis in his Sukhoi 26) and, of course, the previously mentioned Red Bull, who sponsor both the Matadors and the Bournemouth-based Sea Vixen.
Warbirds always get a good showing at Shoreham with a pair of SE5as, B-17G 'Sally B', Plane Sailing's Catalina, a P-51D and the BBMF (with the Dakota instead of the Lancaster). Dan Griffiths made a welcome return, displaying his Me108 with a trio of Spitfires led by John Romain who gave a Duxford-style tailchase. This trio included Spitfire XV1e TD248, recently acquired by Clive Spink, now repainted in a camouflage livery of the 2nd TAF, replacing its former silver RAF 'racing' colours.
Out in the static line beside two Harrier GR7s, the display Chinook and Plane Sailing's Catalina were open for a look inside, the latter well worth an entrance fee of £1 to explore inside and have a chat with the co-pilot. Mind your head on the low bulkheads, as I soon found out!
In closing, once again a very enjoyable day out and relaxed feel to the show, one I would certainly recommend.
Well done to Don Bean and his team of airshow organisers and volunteers!