As one final post for this year I wanted to take a quick look back at my personal top 5 shows of 2017. It has been another excellent year overall with plenty of variety, though once again Duxford and The Shuttleworth Collection feature highly on this list.
As is a common theme in recent years, there is plenty of competition from the Old Warden shows for inclusion in a top 5. This years Military Pageant saw a brilliant mix of visiting airframes and collection aircraft. The show opened with a solo display from TF-51D Mustang Miss Velma, alongside B-17 Sally B. There were also memorable displays from WW1 aircraft including the Bristol M1C, BE2E and Sopwith Triplane. The show finished with a memorable pairs display from the Bristol Boxkite and Avro Triplane.
Following my first Gransden in a number of years in 2016, there was no doubt in my mind I would be returning in 2017. This show was unusual in that I am sure it was the first time I’ve ever been to Gransden and it hasn’t rained! (in fact it may have been too hot!). This show captures that brilliant atmosphere that used to be covered by many shows now long gone (Woodchurch, Chailey etc). It has that family atmosphere with great close access to the display aircraft and some brilliant variety. This years show featured a wonderful Blenheim solo from John Romain, impressive departures from the static Anson and Bronco and plenty of show stopping aerobatics. A full report can be read here.
Always a highlight of any year, Flying Legends usually resides in the top spot of any of these lists. It positioning this year says nothing of the show itself but simply that it was an incredible season. This years Legends was a real back to basics affair, evoking memories of those golden years of late 90s and early 00s. The P-51 aerobatic team The Horsemen were back and even brought two Mustangs over for the occasion. The Hurricane summer continued with this show featuring the then record breaking formation of five Hurricanes in the air together. A notable highlight of this years Legends was the return of the big radial joker slot. The usual mount of recent years, the Fighter Collection’s Gladiator was unfortunately unserviceable in France and therefore unavailable for its usual slot. It was left to Richard Grace in the Hawker Fury to perform the Joker duties on the Saturday, which was utterly incredible, while the slot was shared with Nick Grey in a Mk I Spitfire on the Sunday. Another brilliant instalment of what is still the greatest classic piston airshow in the world. A full report of this years event can be found here.
I’ve already written a few posts around this incredible summers evening. It was a highlight enough to have the traditional Old Warden evening airshows return after a years absence in 2017, but this show was something even more special. Ahead of the show there was a great sense of anticipation as it was billed to be the first performance of all three based Hurricanes together. This included the public debut of Hurricane P3717, newly resident at Old Warden. The three Hurricanes delivered a wonderful series of formation passes before the new arrival was put through its paces in an extended solo display. This show also saw memorable performances from other collection aircraft as well as a wonderful debut from Hurricane Heritage’s Harvard in golden light. The June evening show also saw displays from all of the then airworthy Edwardian aircraft with the Deperdussin’s engine finally coming to a stop just shy of 10PM, airshow magic!
After a very different May show from the Imperial War Museum, which saw very little of the based warbird aircraft, which must be a first for a Duxford show, September saw one of the greatest shows of recent times. The display was extended by 30 minutes compared to previous years and featured a seamless flying programme with absolutely no filler. Being the Battle of Britain airshow there was, as expected a mass gathering of Spitfires which delivered the trademark Duxford tailchase. The sequence that really set this show apart was the gathering of six Hurricanes together, something that has not been seen since the 1950s or earlier. Five of those Hurricanes joined a special formation led by the Bristol Blenheim and three Mk I Spitfires, with the Gloster Gladiator bringing up the rear. This not only presented a large proportion of the different types that the RAF had at their disposal but also offered an impression of the numbers of each type. It was certainly a rarity for a modern day airshow for Hurricanes to outnumber Spitfires. The Imperial War Museum certainly managed to put on a truly impressive airshow and I’ve only scratched the surface in this post.
Looking Forward to 2018
Overall 2017 was another great year, we saw a huge boost in the Hurricane population along with some wonderful airshow highlights. with the 100th anniversary of the RAF coming up in 2018 we are hoperfully in for another good year with plenty of memroable events.