Following on from last year’s Battle of Britain themed show the Biggin Hill team put together another varied line up for the third annual show since flying displays returned to this historic airfield.
As with 2015 the “home team” warbirds and vintage aircraft made up much of the static display. With the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar having moved to a more central position in the show ground a trio of their aircraft were on display. Alongside their Harvard were a trio of Spitfires, including Mk V EE602, which flew in 2015 and a pair of fresh restorations in the shape of prototype T.VIII MT818 and Malta veteran EP122. The chance to see this relatively elusive examples so soon after their first fights was an unexpected highlight. Alongside the fighters in the show ground was the Shipping and Airlines fleet of vintage light aircraft, with highlights including the DH90 Dragonfly.
The flying display had a great deal of variety – with the Breitling Wingwalkers starting the show in less than ideal conditions. This was soon followed by a memorable solo routine from the Bronco complete with strafing pyrotechnics, taking an already dynamic display to an even higher level. The Bronco display really suited the Biggin crowd line and made for a dramatic sight performing a short field landing on the wet runway.
Aerobatic teams were well presented too, with appearances from both the Blades and Red Arrows – though the CAA imposed off centre crowd centre meant that at times aspects of these routines seemed out of place. Rich Goodwin put on his usual display of incredible unlimited aerobatics along with the excellent Little & Large pairs routine.
An airfield with such heritage is synonymous with Second World War warbirds so it was no surprise that 2016 saw a varied selection. Two notable cancellations in 2016, due to weather conditions were B17 Sally B and the Bristol Blenheim.
Thankfully both managed to make it down to Kent this year, with the latter performing a series of mock bombing runs complete with pyros. It certainly had an impressive bomb load for such a small bomber! Another “heavy” making a welcome Biggin Hill appearance was Plane Sailing’s Catalina.
The Fly Navy Heritage trust provided a memorable performance in the Fairey Swordfish, really showing just how capable and manoeuvrable this historic biplane was and why it was able to cause the German Navy so many problems during the Second World War.
Biggin Hill also saw the debut of Peter Teichman’s P-51D Mustang in its new Red Tails scheme, Peter’s display gave plenty of chances to see the new scheme up close with a number of topside passes.
It was left to Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar’s Spitfire and Hurricane to provide a fitting close to the 2016 event. All in all another memorable show at a venue with a rich airshow history. The festival of Flight team certainly seem to be building each year and I hope we can see this trend continue in 2017.