Airshow Moment 2018 5 – Heritage Flights

A long established act in the United States, “Heritage” or “Legacy” flights see historic aircraft join their modern day counterpart for a sequence of formation passes before breaking up into solo displays.


This idea of pairing past with present is certainly not unique to the US and there have been plenty of great RAF offerings over the years, with a notable memory being the recent Typhoon/Spitfire Syncrho pair in 2015.


Across the 2018 season both in the UK and abroad there have been a wide array of unique formations that have seen warbirds take centre stage alongside modern day counterparts.


The first example of such a flight for the 2018 season was at La Ferté in May. The French show actually saw three unique heritage flights take place. The first saw the Memorial Flight’s SPAD XIII join up with the modern day Rafale for a single pass across the airfield. This must be approaching a record for number of years between two types in one formation and made for a poignant sight to mark the end of the First World War.


Staying with French history, later in the show the newly restored Corsair led four Rafales in a Naval heritage flight formation before moving into its own wonderful solo routine which left a lasting impression.


Bringing the continental element of this post to a close was a Swiss take on the Heritage Flight idea, pairing the F-18 Hornet with the Morane MS406.


A few weeks later at Cosford in June, Anglia Aircraft Restoration’s Hawker Hurricane was joined by a Polish Air Force MIG-29 in an important tribute to those brave Polish airmen who provided such great support in the Battle of Britain.


Flying Legends at Duxford in July saw the only UK appearance from an official Heritage Flight. This display featured the USAF F-35A joined by P-51D Mustang “Hun Hunter/Texas” and for the first time in Heritage Flight history, a non-American design in the shape of Spitfire JG891.

The F-35A wasn’t the only example of the new type to take part in a multi-generational flypast. At both Fairford in July and Duxford in September a fitting tribute was paid to 617 Squadron, with the Lancaster being joined by an F-35B and, for the last time at an airshow, an RAF Tornado GR4.

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