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  Flying Legends 2017
Part 2
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Text:

Urs Schnyder

Pictures:

Urs Schnyder

   

North Africa

This was a bit strange as the Bücker Jungmann most likely never flew in that theatre but it fitted the Luftwaffe theme.

So Anna Walker, as a prelude to the dogfights of the Curtiss P-40 and the Buchon aka Messerschmitt 109 proceeded to give a smooth and flowing aerobatic display in the Bücker. It was a nice contrast to modern aerobatics with its sudden changes of direction and position.

The P-40 and the Buchon engaged in a mock combat which the Curtiss decided in it’s favour of course. The Buchon had been repainted in a desert scheme to replicate the Messerschmitt flown by German ace Werner Schroer. However, the wear and tear of the aircraft depicted in its painted on form was grossly exaggerated in my opinion.

 

(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)

Battle of Britain

This was the largest set piece, with the Blenheim, three Spitfires and no less than 5 Hurricanes. Unfortunately the announced star, a real Messerschmitt Bf 109E from Biggin Hill didn’t make it to the show.

It fittingly started off with two Spitfires Mk. I in the Battle of Britain colour scheme of black and white undersides, giving an aerobatic display. After that they joined the main formation for the fly past. The formation consisted of the Blenheim, Spitfires and Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes then took over and in a four ship formation gave an impressive display. I don’t remember having seen four Hurricanes in formation before. We have come far since the filming of the Battle of Britain Film where only a single Hurricane was airworthy. The last to display was the Blenheim which was put through its paces before landing.

 

(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)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

The Horsemen

If Memory serves me right then this is the third time that the Horsemen have joined the display at Duxford. Two aircraft were brought over from the US for the display.

Incredibly, the P-51B-1 „Berlin Express“, flew all the way from the US via the old Ferry route used during the War. The Pilot, Lee Lauderback is a very experienced Mustang Pilot with over 9000 Hours on Type.

The other Mustang is an F-6K type with an interesting history. Having been completed shortly before war’s end, it was sold as surplus. It crashed during a trial for the Cleveland air race in 1946. Rebuild, it had several owners before it was sold to the Dominican Air Force where it served for 30 years, before it was sold together with all the other Dominican Mustangs to Florida based O’Farrel, where it was modernised. It was then taken over by James Beasley, whose son was one of the Horsemen flying that Mustang. In 2009 Dan Friedkin of Comanche Fighters bought the aircraft. He had it restored to an authentic condition. It finally did its first flight again in January 2017. 

This time the Horsemen were flying in a three ship formation. Unfortunately, on Saturday during its first flight, the cockpit canopy of the P-51B disintegrated, damaging the tailplanes and there was no Horsemen display on that day. On Sunday, they performed their display with another Mustang. Fortunately I had taken pictures on Friday when they did a training performance in the original formation. We will hopefully see them again at Flying Legends in a future display.

 

(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)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

     

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Air Racing

This was a novelty and the organizers are to be applauded for including these rare racing machines into the program. Especially the three ones from the golden age of aviation set standards and in the form of the De Havilland Comet prepared the way for later developments like the Mosquito. The Comet especially is a very elusive aeroplane that is seldom seen in the air. Its appearance at the Duxford display was therefore highly appreciated. I hadn’t also seen the Travel Air Mystery ship flying before. I must admit, that I didn’t even know there was a flying example in Britain. The Percival Mew Gull of course is more often seen and famous as Alex Henshaw’s aircraft in which he flew from London to Cape Town.

The Le Vier Cosmic Wind was built in 1948 to compete in the new Midget class air races in the US. It was brought to the UK in 1962, only to crash in an air race in 1966 being a total write off. It was rebuilt in slightly altered form and took part in air races again.

 

(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 Aviation

Two aircraft that were not seen for a while over Duxford are the Catalina, and the Grumman Wildcat. Under the theme of Naval aviation, one could get reacquainted with both of them. At the same time they were the last acts before the finale of the Balbo.

 

(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)

The Balbo and the Joker

And finally a very emotional moment, when most of the aircraft wait for the mass take off to form up for the Balbo. They have to take off as close as possible, but with still enough distance for security. The bigger the takeoff interval between aircraft, the longer it takes to get into formation. In addition, there are the two airports Luton and Stanstead into which airspaces the Balbo shouldn’t enter. In the early years of Flying Legends, the Balbo was usually much larger than today because almost everything took to the air. The difficulty with such diverse aircraft as a B-25 and say Mustangs was that they have to arrive overhead of Duxford at exactly the right time in a good formation despite the fact that their performance is so different. The B-25 needs to fly at their top speed to catch up with the formation while the Mustang has to slow down. For that reason, today also the Hurricanes don’t fly in the Balbo any more. This all makes for smaller formations.

While the planes fly a great circle to the south of the airfield to form up, the Joker enters the arena to pass the time with some aerobatic displays, until the formation is back. This time was the Sea Fury’s turn to play the role of the joker, while on Sunday it shared this duty with a Spitfire.

After the second pass the Balbo split up into two formations. They further split into sections, which run in over the airfield for the final break and landing.

This year on Sunday during the landing approach the Mustang “Miss Velma” had an engine failure that prevented it from reaching the airfield. However, the pilot managed to make a skillful emergency landing in a field from which he emerged unharmed.

I would like to thank Esther Blaine from IWM for her support and for providing press facilities.

 

(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)

     

(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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