Warbird Tails 2020 Season Retrospective

In a year like 2020 the idea of a “top X Shows” doesn’t really work. I wanted to use this post to celebrate all the shows that were able to take place this year and that I was luck enough to attend. This last weekend of the 2020 Advent series seemed like a great time to look at them all together.

Old Warden’s Drive in Shows

The announcement in early July that the Shuttleworth Collection would be able to hold a “drive-in” style evening airshow that month was a real surprise to many. After months of coming to terms with the fact there would be no airshow season at all it was such a great relief. The event felt perfectly like a normal evening at Old Warden and the flying was fantastic.

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Though a number of the planned events were unable to go ahead due to weather, the Collection hosted four great airshows though the shortened season. I only managed to attend three of them but they were fantastic.

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Duxford’s Showcase Days

With the main Duxford airshows for the year cancelled by the pandemic (September’s frustratingly late on in the planning stages), it was left to a series of showcase days to provide the entertainment. These shows certainly felt the most “normal” in 2020. With limited numbers and wonderful participation from non-flying participants with aircraft on static outside, each event had that wonderful “‘Legends Friday” feel.

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The first day in August offered good weather and a chance to enjoy a number of the Duxford based warbirds, including newly repainted Mustang G-SHWN and the wonderful Spitfire/Hurricane pairing of N3200/R4118. Outside of the main event there was also a wonderful fly in of de Havilland types and the chance to see both Duxford based Sea Fury/Furys in the air.

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The mid August showcase was dealt a very rough deal with the weather. Low cloud, high winds and rain dominated the morning and all flying seemed unlikely. Fortunately the organisers did manage to shift things around sufficiently to let a few acts take to the air. Including a solo Mustang display from John Dodd in Miss Helen that sits up there as one of the best I’ve seen. Nothing like a Mustang whistling at low level!

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The final Showcase Day came in October and this really felt like a bonus after some late season weather cancellations elsewhere. Once again the weather was far from ideal but a huge number of the Duxford based warbirds were on show including a great Battle of Britain formation/tail-chase, culminating with Pete Kynsey flying a short aerobatic slot in Spitfire AR213.

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Headcorn’s Battle of Britain Show

Hosted by Aero Legends, my local airshow has grown from strength to strength over the past five years, building up a brand of its own and quite a unique feel. The flying is typically spread across the afternoon, with each display act lasting 20-30 minutes. This allows for wonderful, sprawling set pieces whilst giving the crowd a chance to enjoy the show ground. Though this can be a little jarring to more seasoned airshow attendees, the strength of the flying really works in this format.

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2020 always looked touch and go for Headcorn, with the original June slot being replaced by a three day event at the end of September. As other shows, such as Duxford the previous week, started cancelling it seemed inevitable that Headcorn would follow suit. Thankfully it didn’t, though at times that seemed irrelevant as the forecast shifted to very high winds and low cloud for all three days of the show.

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Amazingly, a near full program was flown across the Saturday and Sunday and a great show was also delivered on the Friday. The price of admission and effort for anyone to attend the show would have been worth it just for the wonderful Dakota pairs routine. Not to mention the incredible Battle Of Britain set piece on the Saturday and Sunday.

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