The central theme for this years airshow at La Ferté-Alais in France was the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. As part of the comprehensive account of aviation history held each year and the picturesque airfield, there is always a significant WW1 set piece, often making use of a handful of original and replica airframes alongside a gaggle of Stampes/Buckers.
This year saw a number of additional full scale replicas join the display along with thankfully perfect conditions for the original aircraft to fly.
The WW1 segment itself started with an early dogfight recreation featuring the based Bleriot and a kit biplane painted to represent and early German fighter. This was a thrilling sight to see a rotary powered Bleriot wheeling around the sky with the pilot even taking pot shots with a handgun at the enemy machine.
The next segment of the display saw the Tiger Moth based Albatros bomber replica take to the sky before the Vintage Aviator built Bristol F2B took to the sky with the two La Ferté based Stampe SE5a replicas. The three British types patrolled the sky making a significant impression before an impressive trio of Fokker DR1s took to the air.
As the Bristol returned to earth the remaining airframes of the UK based Great War Display team got into the air and after a short three ship demonstration from the Triplanes, their trademark display of wonderfully organised dogfighting across multiple layers unfolded. This was followed by a return of the recently flown based triplane, together with the Stampe based SE5s, the latter of which flew with real agility.
Bringing the segment to a spectacular close was the wonderful sound of the Memorial Flight’s original Spad XIII leaping into the air, which then launched into a memorable and graceful solo routine. As a fitting finale the Spad joined up for a formation pass with a French Air Force Rafale.
After this pass the SPAD swept round to land, touching down just as the Rafale ran in for its first pass. A wonderfully comprehensive account of world war one aviation, the breadth and scale of which is not really repeatable anywhere but La Ferté.
The icing on the cake would have been if the Fokker DVII and Sopwith 1 & 1/2 Strutter had flown to close the show, as scheduled, though this did little to lessen the impact of a wonderful show.