Belgian Air Force Demo Team 2012
   Text & Pictures: Danny Carels with courtesy of Silver Wing Magazine  © sbap 2013

The Air Show season at Duxford started as always with the Spring Air show and this time commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United States Army Air Forces’ (‘USAAF’) arrival at Duxford; “Remembering the Mighty Eight”!

It was in April 1943 that the 78th Fighter Group of the US 8th Army Air Force landed at Duxford.
This was the red line through the show with the centrepiece or pièce de résistance, the Eagle Squadron.
The Eagle Squadron was formed in the early stages of war in 1940 with Americans volunteering to join the war theatre in Europe, before America themself got dragged into War with the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7th, 1941.
The Eagle Squadron was presented by a 4-ship formation;

-              Republic P-47 Thunderbolt “Snafu” of “The Fighter Collection” (TFC) piloted by Steve Hinton;

-              North American P-51C Mustang “Princess Elisabeth” of “Comanch Warbird” specially transported over from the US, piloted by Dan Friedkin;

-              Hawker Hurricane Mk.X “AE977” - ‘P3886’, owned by Peter Monk piloted by Paul Bonhomme;

-              Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1a “AR213” - ‘P7308’ of the “Aircraft Restoration Company” (ARC) piloted by Ed Shipley.

They opened the show with some beautifull 4-ship formation fly-by’s after which they split up in a 2 times 2-ship formation; the P-47G with the P-51C and the Spitfire with
the Hurricane
.
The P-47’s and P-51’s were called “Little Friends” during the bombardements of Germany because of their long-range capabilities defending the hugh bomber formations; B-17G “Sally B” could not be missed and she took off to join up with the Eagle Squadron for some fly-by’s in formation. A fantastic sight and sound!
Besides legends in the sky, we were able to meet with a legend on the ground, who had flown the legends in the sky; tripple Ace Colonel Bud Anderson. He flew with the 357th Fighter Group on the P-51 Mustang (amongst the famous “Old Crow”) out of RAF Leiston. He did 2 tours of combat, survived 116 missions and shot down 16 ½ enemy aircraft. He has deserved his spot in the Aviation Hall of Fame which he received in 2008.
We were treated near the end of show with the cherry on the cake; The Eagle Squadron in formation with the 9-ship Red Arrows. They only did one fly-by led by the slowest airplane of the pack; the Hurricane but what a sight; a real tribute to the Mighty Eight and the Eagle Squadron.
The Eagle Squadron broke off and landed after which the Red Arrows showed ones more that they are the best of British as they say but also the best of Europe and even beyond. It was their first show to the home crowd of the 2013 season.
Not speaking on the other displays would really not be doing them any justice since they all performed a fantastic show of aerobatics, close formations or simply showing their grace in the sky!

Let the pictures speak for itself!
It was a fantastic weekend close to 20° and a lot fo sunshine. You had to be there to believe it!
You can find more information on the upcoming events at IWM Duxford on their website: http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford.
Our sincere thanks to the organisation and the cooperation of Esther Blaine and her team providing us lots of information, the opportunity to take pictures of the flight line and to meet Bud Anderson.

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