2021 saw the Duxford “Showcase” Days, which had been in place since 2019 rebranded to Flying Days. The idea of these days is to have a day every couple of weeks that features a small selection of Duxford based aircraft in an hour long flying display. These are otherwise normal museum days, with free entry for members (or a small charge for non-members over and above standard admission).
22nd May 2021
The first event took place on 22nd May titled “Standing Together”. This event saw a mix of lighter types and Duxford based warbirds. The days flying was opened with Plane Sailing’s Catalina, followed by a Piper Cub being flown through a gentle routine.
This first flying day marked the welcome return to flying displays of the Fighter Collection. The collection’s Spitfire Vb and Corsair flew a single pass as a pair before breaking into high energy solo displays. Brian Smith flew a largely flat routine in the Corsair before the cloud base lifted for a wonderful account of the clipped wing Spitfire from Dave Southwood.
Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hurricane flew twice during the event, initially with a solo display before taking part in a wonderful pairs finale alongside Imperial War Museum’s Spitfire I N3200. John Romain closed the display with a typically polished solo aerobatic performance to bring the days flying to a close.
6th June 2021
The second Flying Day of the year took on an unsurprising theme given the date. The flying display was a curated to pay tribute to the D-Day Landings. Early arrivals to the museum would have witnessed a poppy drop from Spitfire I N3200 at 11am in addition to the main display.
The main flying display got underway with that icon of the aerial invasion, the Douglas C-47. This time it was Aero Legends Royal Air Force marked example known as “Pegasus”. This was a great opening to the event with a graceful account from this twin engined transport.
Next was one of two high energy performances from the Fighter Collection. Pete Kynsey, the collection’s chief pilot delivered wonderful aerobatic displays in the Wildcat and also closed the flying display with an extended Corsair sequence.
No D-Day display would be complete with the inclusion of some liaison machines and this display saw three Piper cubs take to the air in a graceful routine. Another lighter highlight was another great solo display from James Brown in Hurricane Heritage’s Harvard.
A wonderful multi-warbird sequence was led by the iconic Spitfire MH434 flying formation aerobatics with the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Buchon “Yellow 10” still wearing it’s temporary desert markings. After the aerobatic routine Sywell based TF-51D Contrary Mary joined the pair for a tailchase routine.
The undoubted highlight of the afternoon for me was the wonderful extended routine from the P-47 Thunderbolt. This rare fighter performed it’s first public display since 2019 in fine style with an extended vertical aerobatic routine before joining B-17 Sally B for a few passes prior to the B-17s solo display.
20th June 2021
This event was set to be a Father’s Day celebration and featured an extensive line up of Duxford based warbirds, including a planned return to display flying form the Fighter Collections Curtiss P-40F. Sadly weather conditions made things difficult for the Duxford team as the cloud base refused to lift above the 1,500 feet required for multi aircraft routines. This meant that the list had to be dropped down to just seven aircraft.
This still made for a great hours worth of flying however, with the Catalina putting on a typically spirited display under the great skies. This was followed by an extended solo display from the Duxford based Yale, a unique airworthy machine in Europe. There was also an impressive flat routine from Harvard “Wacky Wabbit” performing it’s first flight after an engine change the week prior.
Mark Miller delivered his typically dynamic routine in his Dragon Rapide as the only two fighters to take to the sky prepared with impressive double power checks at the western end of the airfield.
The Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hurricane got airborne, being quickly followed by the Imperial War Museum’s Spitfire I. Dave Harvey put on a solo routine in the Hurricane under the challenging low ceiling before Stu Goldspink delivered a very graceful show closing routine in the Spitfire.
The season ahead
The first three Flying Days have been a great re-introduction of many Duxford favourites that had to sit out 2020, especially the Fighter Collection aircraft. Another Flying Day lies ahead on 3rd July before the Summer airshow takes place on 24th/25th July. August then sees a number of weekday flying days before the September airshow and a final showcase in October.