Since it’s first iteration back in 2018, the Midlands Air Festival has been firmly on my to-do list. The novelty of a new airshow venue is always draw enough, but the idea of a show taking place in the ground of an idyllic country estate together with a small grass strip, certainly adds a new layer.
Having considered reviews of the past two events, generally reflecting Ragely Hall to be the more complete of the two venues used so far, together with the highly anticipated debut from Peter Teichman’s new Spitfire restoration, the stage was set for a first trip to this relatively new event.
The show also represented (to my knowledge) the first major UK show to go ahead without some kind of severe COVID restriction. 2020 did see the Duxford Flying Days and Headcorn’s show of course but not on the sort of scale that the Midlands Air Festival appeared to be on.
The show truly lives up to it’s broad title, with early visitors being treated to a sunset balloon launch and morning visitors enjoying the sight of tethered balloons taking it in turns on centre stage. There was also an extended remote control model slot which made for an entertaining lead up to the main flying display.
The venue is quite simply incredible. Rolling countryside, a natural amphitheater and, on the day we attended glorious sunshine.
The show got underway with a spectacular display from the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. This weekend marked their first UK display appearance since 2019 and they looked great with an unrestricted display at this great venue. While 2020 did see a number of airshows take place, there was a real lack of jets. This weekend marked the return to many RAF assets back to display flying which brought a comforting sense of normality.
A direct change of pace saw a solo Stampe SV4 put through it’s paces in a clever flying lesson format display. Flying one manoeuvre each pass, the commentary team were able to educate those in attendance how each move was flown and would prove a great insight for the flying for the rest of the day. Later on in the day the Stampe joined a further pair of Stampes for a memorable formation display. The Stampes were among a number of performers that based off of the short grass strip at the airfield. This also saw the Gypsy Pair of Auster AOP6 and DHC Chipmunk and the Turbulent Team, the latter of which put on a great low level performance.
World War Two machines were well represented with the Royal Air Force kicking things off with a Spitfire pairs display. The Flight brought their Mk V and MkXVI showing the development of the Merlin powered variant well. It was good to see the BBMF back performing a full display again. This show also saw a welcome return to display flying for Sally B for the first time since 2019 and an every impressive display from the Duxford based Catalina.
The undoubted star of the warbird performers at the show was the first public performance from Peter Teichman in his newly restored Russian Spitfire. It was great to see Peter Teichman’s flowing aerobatic display once again and it really showcased this beautiful new restoration well.
Another high point of the days flying was the first performance of the RAF Typhoon display for the first time since 2019. This year saw the Typhoon painted in a black and union jack aggressor scheme, which certainly makes a change from the grey jets of recent years.
The Midlands Air Festival is a wonderful show that truly lives up to its name with all corners of aviation covered. I am already looking forward to next years show.