Duxford 2023 Summer Air Show

By Juri Keyter

02.07.2023





It was the Duxford 2023 Summer Air Show on Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June, but with temperatures deep in the 30s, a crosswind gusting over 25kts and a scorching sun, it was not only demanding for the organisers and pilots, it was also challenging for the visiting public who also had to take special precaution to remain hydrated and safe. As expected during adverse conditions like these, we did see some performances altered, especially the vintage and smaller aircraft types. However, this is the home of flying legends and the program remained action packed with the best of the best throughout the day.


Corsair FG-1D taxiing past the crowd line.

My all-time favourite aircraft, a Corsair, opened the show with a Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat. The Corsair gained its reputation during WWII but the Bearcat was too late and flew for the U.S Navy and French Air Force during the Korean War and Indo-China conflict, outperforming many early Jet fighter aircraft of the time.


Corsair FG-1D just after take-off.


Corsair and Bearcat in close formation.


Bearcat landing.

But we came to see Spitfires and Hurricanes and we did not have to wait long to see them. Taking off in short succession, we had 3 Spitfires and 1 Hurricane starting off in a formation display followed by some solo flying.


Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc


3 Supermarine Spitfires in formation with a Hawker Hurricane Mk.I


3 Supermarine Spitfires in formation


Hawker Hurricane Mk.I

There were not many jets on the day, as expected, but we did see a De Havilland Vampire FB6 in formation with a Strikemaster pair.


De Havilland Vampire FB6


Strikemaster Pair

A regular performer at Duxford is the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie'. We saw a lot of Nellie's bottom but disappointingly, there were not many passes showing her top.


Republic P-47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie'


Republic P-47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie'

Returning to flight more than 80 years after its last UK flight, we had the Lockheed 12. This aircraft provided invaluable reconnaissance over German territory during the outbreak of the Second World War. During the display, we saw it in action with a Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk.XI PL983, a photo reconnaissance version of the famous fighter, armed with cameras instead of guns.


Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk.XI PL983


Lockheed 12 and Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk.XI in formation

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a Pitts fitted with a jet engine in the UK. Yes, we have seen the "Screamin Sasquatch" Waco at Oshkosh but I never thought they would get anything like this past the UK health & safety regulation.


Jet Pitts on take-off


Jet Pitts demonstrating absolute power

A crowd favourite at Duxford Air Shows, the Great War Display Team, usually replicate how aircraft were flown during the Great War over the trenches of Northern France and Belgium, but in the challenging conditions we had on the day, they took off, did a fly-past, randomly detonated the pyrotechnics intended for their planned display and they left. Real pity!!


Newport


Fokker DR1

I have loved the Beechcraft Staggerwing from the first time I saw it. This is not something I have seen in South Africa and I have only seen 3 in the UK, 2 of them at Duxford today.


Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing


Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing


Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing formation

When I arrived, I saw the wingwalker act on the program but I did not expect them to fly in these conditions. Fortunately, I was wrong and they delivered a well-choreographed display.


AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers


AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers

It is difficult for me to choose my favourite of the day. It is definitely between the last two acts of the day:

A Hawker Fury FB.II / P-51 Mustang duo

Or

The RAF Red Arrows

I will let you choose!!


A Hawker Fury FB.II


P-51 Mustang


P-51 Mustang & A Hawker Fury FB.II formation


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows


RAF Red Arrows





An overdose of Warbirds - Legends at Duxford 2019








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