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Lifting the Lydd

Dave Eade/DEltafoto reports on Lydd's second airshow, held over 1-2 September. Pictures by the author and Bob Franklin

In a time when we always seem to be reading and reporting of the demise of airshows, it is more than satisfying to be able to recount the success of a 'new' one.

For the second year running crowds flocked to Lydd in Kent to enjoy a good programme of both arena events and flying. Lydd was the first airfield to be built in the UK after the Second World War, being opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in April 1956. It will always figure historically as the airfield that became home to Silver City Airways and its fleet of Bristol Superfreighters, which brought Continental fly-drive to the British public.

Then called Ferryfield, Lydd was the departure point for many thousands of people who drove their cars onto the Superfreighters for the short flight to Le Touquet in France, some 130,000 cars travelling this route between 1953 and 1957. This was, of course, before the days of cheap cross-channel ferries and today's Channel Tunnel. The last air-ferry left Lydd for France in 1970. Now equipped as a modern General Aviation/Charter airfield to take aircraft up to the size of Boeing 737, a planning application is in place to extend the facilities further.

If the purpose of an airshow is to increase an airfield's profile to the general public then Lydd 2007 can be said to have worked - attracting many of the star acts of the 2007 season to its programme, the airshow team put together an excellent list of performers of varied types from the Great War to the fast jet era.

After opening with the 'Falling Rocks' parachute team from the RAF Regiment, the public was introduced to a vision of the First World War with the 'Great War Team' of early monoplane, biplanes and triplanes. Announced as being the first time since 1917, the Fokker Triplane and Sopwith Triplane were seen in the air together in a mock battle, as were the more familiar SE5a replicas and the Dorniers.

Lydd has a crowd-line that faces north, allowing both excellent photography opportunities and excellent viewing. With the above Great War Team and the Turbulents of the Tiger Club performing and two parachute teams landing in the immediate vicinity of the crowd line, the crowd was able to get up-close and personal to the performers.

A look at the way that the RAF trains its pilots was given by the consecutive performances of the Tutor, Tucano and Hawk, with more recent (Second World War) history being celebrated with the BBMF Lancaster and Spitfires, B-17G Flying Fortress, P-51D Mustang and Me109 'Buchon'. The show concluded with the effervescent look and flying of Jonathan Whaley in the beautiful 'Miss Demeanour' that is his Hunter.

As with the airshow itself, it is always to report on a good 'new' performer and that honour goes, in my opinion, to the Swift Aerobatics team of Extra and glider - being different, in that the first part of the display consists of low-level rolls and loops by both aircraft, the glider still being towed by the powerful Extra. Novel to say the least, this act (with Team Guinot and the AAC Blue Eagles) is perfectly suited to the smaller display and has been a success at every showing during 2007. If the huge round of applause given by the audience to both this and the RAF Falcons parachute team is anything to go by - its was obvious who the crowd's favourites were.

 

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