While a great number of museums across the UK re-opened early on in July, enthusiasts had to wait another month before Duxford re-opened its doors on 1st August. This was followed a few days later by the first public flying display at the venue.
This was important for a number of reasons. It was the first airshow in the UK in 2020 away from Old Warden and the first with a traditional “walk in” format, rather than the “drive in” events being held at Old Warden. Of course numbers were very much limited but it was great to enjoy what felt like a relatively normal at Duxford.
There was a great flying line up planned too, with one of the stand out acts being a planned Mustang pair of Sywell based TF-51D “Contrary Mary” and the newly re-painted G-SHWN (formerly Sharkmouth, now in 4th FG markings and known as “Warhorse”). Technical issues prevents the Sywell based machine from making it to the show but “Warhorse” was able to take to the sky. The Mustang carried out a number of local flights either side of the flying display and was also put through it’s paces in fine style by Eskil Admal.
This display captured everything you would expect from recent displays from this pilot and airframe combination. High-speed, high energy vertical aerobatics and impressive top-side passes made for a wonderful first solo warbird display at Duxford for the year at a public event.
With it’s new paintscheme this Mustang is now one of the standout examples of the type. With it’s owner having flown it extensively over the proceeding months it was looking fantastically weathered and features that wonderful bare metal finish that evokes memories of the Fighter Collection’s pair of Mustangs in the mid 2000s.
Mustangs were very much a theme of the day, with the static display outside hangar 2 featuring Comanche Fighters wonderful pair of P-51s. P-51B Berlin Express has been resident on and off at Duxford since Flying Legends 2017, when it was flown across the Atlantic ahead of a planned appearance with the Horsemen demonstration team. Many of you will know that that performance was unable to go ahead. Berlin Express also missed 2018 and 2019 Flying Legends. Joining Berlin Express was P-51D “Hun Hunter / Texas”, formerly flown as “February” this airframe has also been at Duxford on and off since 2018. Both machines departed Duxford shortly before ‘Legends 2019 and only returned during July 2020 while the museum was shut.
At times these aircraft have been illusive, positioned at the furthest point from visitors in Hangar 2, so it was wonderful to see these machines displayed outside with open canopies allowing for great up close inspection.
While the Mustangs are the focus point of this post, it’s also worth noting the bittersweet end to this day, which saw Sea Fury T20 G-INVN, owned by the same operator as the Mustang, suffer an engine failure and forced landing. Eskil Admal, who had earlier displayed the Mustang, did a fantastic job to get the Sea Fury down and thankfully both Eskil and his passenger were able to get flying again later in the summer. I thought I would add a small tribute photo of this wonderful machine getting ready for an airiest earlier that morning.