As we come to the end of another national lockdown (for some at least), the relative freedom we all enjoyed across August and September seems a long time ago. I thought it would be a fitting start to this years series of Advent posts to share this account of a warm Friday in September.
Originally in many diaries as the first day of the 2020 Duxford Battle of Britain airshow, the show was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic a week or so before it took place. With the day booked off it only seemed right to go Duxford.
The morning at Duxford was fairly quiet with only a few movements before lunch. Browsing online it became apparent that RAF Mildenhall were having a birthday event that afternoon and there would be some limited aerial activity.
What followed was a quick drive up into Sufflok in time for the planned flying to take place. Mildenhall is always a great place to visit anyway with plenty of based USAF aircraft in the circuit. The first flying appearance was a welcome box four of fighters from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight perfuming a few flypasts. This was great to see as it was my only chance to see the BBMF in action this year.
The fighters were followed by a series of flypasts in differing formations from the Red Arrows, again my only sighting of the RAFs display team.
It was then left to a series of flypasts from the locally based aircraft, with four Lakenheath based F-15 Eagles leading the way, followed by a KC-135 Tanker, C-130 Hercules and a CV-22 Osprey.
With the entertainment complete at Mildenhall it was time to get back to Duxford. John Romain was due to back in the NHS Spitfire PL983, fresh from its latest sortie covering Northern Ireland and Wales. I was convinced we had got back to Duxford too late but shortly after parking up that familiar sound and sight of the Mk XI Spitfire came around the corner into the circuit.
In the late afternoon light there was a rare treat of a Belgian registered Bell 47 flying a practice display alongside a Duxford based Piper Cub. This routine offered a great combination of low and slow aircraft.
The days flying entertainment was brought to a close with an extended aerobatic practice from Harvard Wacky ‘Wabbit, which looked great in the afternoon light.
While not quite the day at Duxford that had been planned, it was great to spend a day chasing aeroplanes again and enjoying some unexpected practice displays too.
Hopefully 2021 can see plenty more of these days take place as the world recovers from the events of 2020.