Airshow Moments 2016 – Return of the Centaurus

Ever since the dramatic events at Culdrose in 2014 which saw Chris Gotke successfully save the Fly Navy Heritage Trust Sea Fury T20 following engine troubles mid display, the UK airshow season has been without one of its greatest sounds, the Bristol Centaurus.

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Thankfully this all changed in July this year when North Weald Aviation Heritage Trust’s Hawker Fury II broke cover at Sywell in the stunning paint scheme of the Sea Fury prototype. It has been a long while since a WW2 fighter has worn the classic dark camouflage/yellow underside prototype scheme and on a  Hawker Fury it looks particularly impressive.

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Following re-assembly and test flying by Richard Grace and the Air Leasing team the aircraft was flown to Duxford ready for the Flying Legends airshow. Visitors on the Friday were lucky enough to witness Richard Grace’s first incredible solo in this powerful fighter, a routine that will certainly go down in airshow folklore for years to come. Graceful aerobatics, sweeping low level passes and the wonderful Centaurus growl make for one of the warbird highlights of the last few years, let alone 2016.

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The Fury since moved to its new home at North Weald where it has joined a Hunter, Spitfire XIV and Mustang along with a number of other restoration projects making for an exciting new group on the airshow circuit.

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September saw Richard Grace and the Fury stealing the show again, this time in close formation with Pete Kynsey in the Fighter Collection’s Bearcat. The sight of two of the final piston engined fighters performing close formation aerobatics was truly incredible and a wonderful homage to the classic Hanna vs Grey tail chases of the 1990s in the same types, surely a new regular act for future Flying Legends shows.

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Without a doubt the return of the Fury to the UK circuit was a highlight of 2016 and I can’t wait to see this classic fighter back in the skies in 2017.

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