Classic Jet Appreciation – 2017

As the airshow season moves ever closer I thought it would be a good time to put a photo post together celebrating the Classic Jets that we are still lucky to have gracing the UK Airshow circuit.


2016 was a difficult year for the whole scene but especially so for classic jet operators, none-the-less, the Sea Vixen and Gnat display team put on a series of memorable displays with the former being an undoubted highlight of the whole season.


Let’s take a look at a few of the key classic jets we can hope to look forward to in 2017:

de Havilland Sea Vixen – G-CVIX – Navy Wings


The Sea Vixen has had a civilian flying career with a few ups and downs for over a decade now. Once a common sight when sponsored by Red Bull, in recent years this impressive aircraft has been reduced to occasional performances. Thankfully, having been taken over by Navy Wings in 2015, the airframe had a far busier 2016.


Last season was cut short with a flap issue but this year already looks busy with bookings at a number of shows starting with Abingdon in May. Hopefully this year proves to be another successful year for the Sea Vixen and the Navy Wings team.

Gnat Display Team 


Much like many other classic jets the Gnat display team had a quieter year in 2016. Despite less shows these little jets always leave an impression. The display at Little Gransden last year was one of my highlights of 2016.


I’m looking forward to seeing the Gnat team back in action in 2017, hopefully before too long we may see their Gnat F1 joining the team and a three ship routine may once again be an option.

Vampire WZ507


Based at North Weald, this aircraft is not currently performing at airshows for a variety of reasons, which is a real shame. The airframe is currently up for sale but luckily for Vampire fans is still being flown on a regular basis.


The pictures on this post were taken today in fact. Though not displaying in 2017 as far as i’m aware it is still a treat for the aircraft to still be flown regularly in this country.

Norwegian Trio


Though not UK based, the aircraft of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron are regular visitors to UK airshows and generally spend most of the summer season based here. This means that their pair of Vampires (two seater and single seater) and Mig 15 are regular performers particularly at the summer Seaside shows.


The team fly an incredibly graceful pairs routine with the Vampires and a powerful solo with the Mig. They have, on occasion, delivered a trio display as at Duxford in September.

Strikemaster Pair


This year will also see the introduction of a Strikemaster pairs display, which will certainly add a welcome classic jet display team for the new season. I look forward to catching the team at Duxford.

Jet Provost Display Team


Another North Weald based act provide performances from this classic initial trainer. The Jet Provost display team performed at a number of shows in 2016 both as a solo aircraft and a duo. I only managed to catch the team at Old Warden, during which one of their aircraft performed with the Shuttleworth Collection’s Piston Provost.

New Horizon


As I said at the beginning of this post, it has been a quiet time on the classic jet front recently. Another recent blow in the form of the departure of the Meteor T7 to the United States has certainly highlighted the problem in this country. Thankfully, as outlined above there are still plenty of classic jet performers around.


2017 certainly looks to be a busy year for Classic Jets with the Sea Vixen already having announced plenty of appearances. The new addition of the Strikemaster pair strengthens the acts available further. Hopefully this year may also see the return of some other classic jets that have not been seen in the air for some time.

3 thoughts on “Classic Jet Appreciation – 2017

  1. pickledwings says:

    I’d love to see them bring the Sea Vixen to some shows in continental Europe. We have a great annual vintage show here in the Czech Republic where it would be a great addition.


      • pickledwings says:

        That’s true, unfortunately it was also dressed up in just about the most garish paint job Red Bull ever came up with during those days.

        I’d much rather see it in authentic Fleet Air Arm colours.


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