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  Flying Legends 2017
Part 1
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Text:

Urs Schnyder

Pictures:

Urs Schnyder

   

Unlike the previous years the RIAT at Fairford had changed its dates so this time it didnít clash with Flying Legends. A move from which, without a doubt all parties will profit. The weather also promised to play a positive role in the coming air display so there was again something to look forward to.

As I had noticed at the Shuttleworth display already, there were rather many aircraft in the maintenance hangar which featured on the program. Flying Legends was also affected as we had seen the Gladiator being unable to fly at the La Ferte airshow in France. In addition to that, the French Spitfire XIV had crashed during take of at a French display.

So when I arrived on Wednesday, I was curious to see which aircraft would take to the air. As it turned out, being early gave me a chance to see some aircraft flying that would be grounded during the display.

Another first for Flying Legends was the inclusion in the program of four racing aircraft. Three of these were from the golden age of aviation and belonging to the Shuttleworth Collection. This was a welcome surprise indeed, as I had seen neither the Comet nor the Mystery ship in the air before.

There was an additional surprise in the program at least for Sunday. The Red Arrows were to display for the first time at Flying Legends. However, so as not to disrupt the standard flying program, they were to start at 1:20 p.m.  

In this report, I will more or less follow the sequence of the flying. Most of the pictures were taken on Saturday, as can easily be seen from the weather which was super on that day. However, a few pictures are from the days before or from Sunday.

Flight line walk

This is now a traditional event, where the public has the chance to see the aircraft from close up, or at least from the taxiway. For the modest sum of £5 you can join the flight line walk which is usually open from 9 until 1 p.m. An added attraction is that there are reenactors of the period who give the whole a feeling of reality. The only giveaway is usually the age of the reenactors, as in reality the persons involved would have been much younger.

   

Reenactors moving to thir alloted stations (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

None of these Guys actually flew this Mustang (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

I tell you that is exactly how I got this german! (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Mustang in the colour of 112 Squadron (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

Lineup of Mustang and Spitfires with the reenactors taking station (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Supermarine Spitfire FR XVIII (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Beech 18 and Douglas C-47 of the Clasic Formation (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

The german Pilot

We had the chance to meet Erich Brunotte, a German fighter pilot during the war.

His story is special, in that he wasnít a pilot from the start. As he told me, he started as a gunner in a Junkers Ju 52 of KGzbV 172 flying eight supply missions into Stalingrad. On one such mission, his pilot was wounded and he had to continue flying the aircraft into Stalingrad. At that time he had the rank of Gefreiter (Lance Corporal). When he wanted to enter his aircraft to fly back he found it full of officers who wanted to get out of the fighting. They made him report and stand to attention due to his low rank. However, once he was inside the plane he was in command and he had them leave the aircraft and took a load of wounded soldiers on board instead.

On returning to his unit his CO recommended that he apply for pilot training as otherwise he might end up as infantryman and soon dead. With the recommendation of his COís he was accepted for pilot training. That was unusual for the time, as he didnít have any Matric or other higher education.

After his training he flew several fighter aircraft mostly the Messerschmitt Me 109 but also the Focke Wulf TA 152 and the Focke Wulf FW 190D-9 which he liked best. He flew with the famous unit 4./ JG 5. Most of it was done on the eastern front and towards the end of the war in the defence of the Reich. He told us how he was on a mission with his wingman and flying far apart. After the planned time had elapsed, he recalled the wingman and started to fly home. He saw the other aircraft coming closer, and assumed it to be his wingman. When he looked out next, he saw a red Russian star on the aircraft next to him which gave him a shock. The pilot in the other aircraft however, just saluted, so he did likewise after which the other pilot pulled away and left. This encounter was so unlikely, that after the war he tried to find out who the pilot might have been. He found out that it was a British pilot flying with the Russians at the time. However when he got the details of the pilot to meet him, he had to hear that he had died shortly before.

Erich Brunotte finished the war having achieved 33 victories in air combat. At wars end his unit surrendered to the western allies at Flensburg. Interestingly he didnít become a prisoner of war but was only interned. That is the reason, he still has his pilots watch and leather jacket, both of which he was wearing on the day.

I was impressed how fit he is, both mentally and physically despite his age.  Saturday was really hot, but he didnít seem to notice. He talked about his experience, as if it was yesterday. His young escort and translator however had to be released as he was getting tired.

     

Erich Brunote (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Erich Brunote (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Erich Brunote (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

The Red Arrows

As mentioned already, the Reds displayed on the Sunday before the warbird flying started. Unfortunately the weather had become very cloudy by then. The absence of wind caused the air to be saturated with smoke after a few passes by the team. Due to restrictions in overflying built up areas the display line had to be moved away from the crowd centre and was somwhere near the western end of the airfield. Too bad for those of us on the eastern side as everything was a bit too far away.

Later in the afternoon the team members were flown in with three helicopters to meet the audiences.

 

Red Arrows (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Red Arrows (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Red Arrows (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Red Arrows (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

     

Red Arrows (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfires

At last, at a quarter to two the sound of Merlins and Griffons began to fill the air. Nine Spitfires rolled to the end of the runway and into takeoff position, The mass take off was followed by the forming up process to the north of the airfield and mostly in view of the audience. The nine aircraft then formed up into three vics and positioned themselves for the run in over the airfield. After a few passes in formation, they split up into two groups of six and three, that proceeded to beat up the airfield in the well known and loved manner, that is a hallmark of Duxford. 

 

Lineup for takeoff (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Naval Fighters

While the Spitfires were still displaying the naval fighters in the form of Corsair, Bearcat and Sea Fury had taken off towards the west at low level. No sooner than the last Spitfire had touched down for landing, they swooped in from the east for a first low pass followed by some formation fly pasts. The Corsair then left the formation and did a solo display before coming in to land. The Bearcat and Sea Fury then did some formation aerobatics that showed that the two aircraft are well matched as far as performance is concerned.  

 

Vought FG-1D Corsair (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Vought FG-1D Corsair (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Vought FG-1D Corsair (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Vought FG-1D Corsair (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

     

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss Fighters

It is propably safe to say that Duxford hosts the biggest number of early Curtiss fighters in flying condition. The French enthusiasts will be forever grateful to Stephen Grey for having the Hawk 75 painted in French colours. There is good reason for this of course since it has a combat history with the French, At the La Ferte airshow this year the speaker Bernard Chabbert who incidentally also does the commentary at Flying Legends suggested a public collection to bring this aircraft back to France.

There seemed to be some technical problems with the P-36 and the P-40C as both of them were doing many test flights in the days before the display and had their panels off in between. As it was the P-36 didnít fly during the weekend, but I was lucky in having taken some pictures the days before.

The P-40F also is a rare bird as it is equipped with a Merlin engine when all other P-40ís have Allisons. As there were only a few of the F version produced, so the more remarkable it is to have one flying at Duxford.

 

Curtiss H-75 Hawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-36A Hawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

       

Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Fortress and little friends

After the permanent grounding of Pink Lady in France, Sally B remains the only B-17 flying in European skies. I remember, when there were even three Fortresses flying at a Duxford air display. They had been stationed there for the filming of Memphis Belle. Such a sight is unlikely to reoccur, in a time when films are made by computer software and no real planes are needed any more.

At least there are still a decent number of Mustangs. There were five of them at the display. Two of these were from the US, of which more later.

Three of them took off and did some formation passes, after which they changed to do the tail chase act. This brings them low over the middle of the airfield, from where they climb away at both ends of the field.

When Sally B took off, one of the Mustangs in the colours of 112 Squadron RAF provided escort for her before she did some fly pasts on her own.

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Classic Transports

After their first performance in 2016 the Classic Team from Switzerland returned for another appearance at flying Legends this year. They showed that it is also possible to do formation flying in bigger aircraft. Their highly polished Beech 18 and Douglas C-47 did all their formation changes more or less within the airfield perimeter, in full view of the audience. 

The Norwegian C-53D was an old acquaintance from previous Flying Legends displays. The way the pilot threw the big transport around the sky is just amazing. I still think he was an aerobatic pilot in his earlier life.

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

     

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

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last update 29. July 2017

Written 23. July 2017

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