The 2020 airshow at Headcorn held in September was one of the shining lights of what was largely a subdued year for airshows. Despite poor weather a great three days of flying was still delivered and the show had a great atmosphere.
With a slight return closer to normality the show was able to return to it’s traditional late June slot in 2021. Numbers were still restricted, owing to the delay in the easing of restrictions but there was still a great crowd in attendance and a wonderful line up of aircraft including what must have been the largest gathering of Spitfires at Headcorn.
Following from 2020’s event, the 2021 edition remained a three day event. Sadly the Sunday of the show was a washout, with drizzle and low cloud never clearing up (in fact, many of the visiting aircraft were stuck at Headcorn for the next few days).
The first two days of the event were wonderful however. New for 2021 was a flightline walk option, which for an additional fee gave unrestricted access to the extensive warbird line up on the ground. I was able to enjoy this on the Saturday morning while the C-47s were departing for a air to air sortie. It was great to be able to get up close to the wonderful selection of warbirds on show too.
The Heacorn shows have built up a great reputation since 2015 for impressive set pieces, extended displays and formations and 2021 was no exception. As has become tradition the show started with number of biplanes from Aero Legends and the Stampe Display team. Aero Legends’ Jackaroo led the formation, with two tiger moths and four Stampes completing the line up. The Stampe display teams impressive routine followed culminating with a wonderful solo aerobatic performance.
While the main focus of these shows is often Battle of Britain machines, the arrival of Aero Legends’ two C-47s has brought about some wonderful displays over the years. This years show saw the pair perform and extended tailchase together as well as a wonderful three ship display with B-17 Sally B, making a welcome return to the skies in 2021. The pair of Dakotas also took part in the Aero Legends balbo, joined by the two Harvards and two Spitfires.
A welcome visiting act on the Saturday of the show was a wonderful pairs display from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, which saw their MKV and MKXVI Spitfires fly together before each being put through some solo aerobatics. Both fighters landed back at Headcorn, meaning that all of the flights Merlin powered fighters have now landed at Headcorn (impressive considering none of them had prior to 2015).
Now a Headcorn tradition, the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Hispano Buchon took to the skies for a wonderful extended solo display before Aero Legends MK IX was scrambled to intercept. As always the resulting dogfight was one of the most impressive at a UK airshow.
Spitfires were certainly the central theme of this years show, with no fewer than nine taking part in the finale each day. This line up saw the full spectrum of merlin engined Spitfires, from a MK I, MK VIII, Several MK IXs (Including MH434 and the Silver Spitfire) and a MK XI. Aero Legends’ pair of IX and TIX flew an extended pairs aerobatic routine while the impressive collection of visiting aircraft got into the air. The Spitfires were also joined by a sole Hurricane, P3717, which was a welcome inclusion.
Forming up into two flights of four the formation performed a series of passes before breaking off into the circuit to land. A wonderful sequence and the likes of which we rarely see away from Duxford.
It is also worth noting that this show was the debut public appearance for the Silver Spitfire, following it’s round the world adventure and of the Duxford based MK VIII since it’s return to the UK register in 2020.
Headcorn once again managed to deliver a wonderful two days flying with some of the best aircraft and pilots of the UK warbird scene.