Text: Bruno Ghils -  Pictures: Bruno Ghils & Jacky Vincent © sbap 2013

Pilgrimage to Duxford…

 

Since a long time I go to Duxford every year, to participate in the gathering of the War birds…  It’s a pleasure to hear vibrate the Rolls Royce Merlin’s, to sniff up some engine oil, be dazzled by the glare of the sun, reflecting off the fuselage of a Mustang, or simply to pay tribute to those men and women of the Royal Air Force who ferociously defended our freedom, that’s why people passionate for aviation of the past, come to this living sanctuary.  As for many passionates, Duxford Flying Legends has become a pilgrimage… my own, and those of the SBAP in particular.

As with every pilgrimage, there are strong points. This year, the best was again to be expected, and as always, there was no room for disappointment. Of course there were the noble and venerable Spitfires (not as many as usual, but the “beast” was present, that’s what matters). Duxford has definitively become the place to see Spitfires in flight, on the ground, in workshops, in teams (The Bremont Horsemen Team), in pairs with a Hurricane (BBMF), as a pack in pursuit of the Messerschmitt 109 (Hispano Buchon)… In short, the Spitfire in all its glory.

At Duxford, and nowhere else, it’s also possible to admire the biplanes of the 30’s, the pinnacle of the British industry between the two wars (2 Gloster Gladiators, 4 Hawker Demon,Hind,Nimrod ). How can you not fall in love with these planes, sometimes so fragile, sometimes so modern for their era?

The industry and the American Air Force was represented this year by the presence of the inevitable B-17 “Sally B”, by 4 P51 Mustangs, 3 P-40, a P-47, a DC-3, a TBM Avenger (coming from Switzerland) and at last, the very colorful F4U-4 Corsair of Red Bull, coming from Austria. Please note that, for the fans of American aviation, Duxford was one of the only opportunities to watch the white star on a blue background in the skies, as budgetary constrictions caused the cancellation of all USAF representations this year, so Duxford was the only way to take pictures of US airplanes.

Let’s finish the list of participants to the Duxford Flying Legends 2013 by calling out the Yaks, Ju52, Sea-Fury, Wildcats, Lysander, Storch….and finally a monument, the Maurane-Saulnier 406, coming from Switzerland. This plane is the last of its kind, and thus the only one still flying. In the past it flew under French colors, was repainted not too long ago, in its original colors, of the Swiss air force troops. Just a pure marvel. But Duxford isn’t only about planes and pilots. There are also « people », actors, mechanics, musicians, all in contemporary clothing, to create an atmosphere, and to even improve the show, by having people go back into time, and taking even more vivid pictures. As I told you, a pilgrimage! Thanks Mr. Stephen Gray, thanks for what you have done for aviation history, for the preservation, for the spectacle. It was your “Last Week-End”, and all fans will miss your piloting qualities, your aerobatics, and simply your presence. The Fighter Collection will continue to benefit from your experience, but the Flying Legends won’t be the same without your flight demonstrations.

Thank you Sir!

To finish, SBAP also wholeheartedly wants to thank the press team for their incredible welcome, and their help to create my article. A big thank you to Miss Esther Blaine, the coordinator of the press department at Imperial War Museum. I also want to salute the members of the international press, with whom I  have had a magnificent moment in the press area, and at the flight line, in particular our colleagues from South Africa.

We will go back to Duxford… Often!

(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
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The great Mister Stephen Grey, thanks for what you have done for aviation history
(Fighter Collection)
A last demonstration with the Bearcat (Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Spitfire vs Bf-109 circus (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
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(Jacky Vincent) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
"Sally B" run up (Bruno Ghils) "Snafu" at take off (Jacky Vincent)
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(Jacky Vincent) (Jacky Vincent)
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Curtiss tribute (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
German WWII transport Junkers JU-52-3M (Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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Corsair & Sea Fury duo (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
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"Aerostar" Yak's (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Between the war, Gloster Gladiator duo (Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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"Princess Elisabeth" (Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
(Bruno Ghils) "Moonbeam Mc Swine" (Jacky Vincent)
"Nooky Booky IV" (Jacky Vincent) "Miss Yelma" (Jacky Vincent)
(Bruno Ghils) (Jacky Vincent)
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Hawker Nimrod (Jacky Vincent) Hawker Demon (Jacky Vincent)
Hawker Nimrod (Jacky Vincent) Between the war Hawker trilogy (Bruno Ghils)
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Hawker Hurricane Mk IIA (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
BBMF Hurricane Mk IIC & Spitfire Mk XVIe (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Piper L4 duo (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Yak 3M  (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Yak 9UM  (Jacky Vincent) (Jacky Vincent)
The brand new fighter collection Grumman Wildcat (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
From Switserland the Grumman TBM-3R "Avenger" (Jacky Vincent) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) RNHF Sea Fury (Bruno Ghils)
Westland Lysander from Shuttelworth collection (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) "Storch" in observation mission  (Bruno Ghils)
Morane Saulnier MS406 from Daniel Koblet (Bruno Ghils) The plane wear now the original Swiss troops colours (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) "Dakota", Sun and metal for the final (Bruno Ghils)

DUXFORD calendar of the shows in 2014:
 

Anniversary of the Air Show: 24th and 24th of May 2014

Flying Legends: 12th and 13th of July 2014

Duxford Air Show: 6th and 7th of September 2014

Fall Air Show: 11th of October 2014
 

Please note that 2014-2018 will mark the Centennial of the First World War, and that the Imperial War Museum (IWM) prepares a program of 4 years, with numerous manifestations.

For more info, visit: www.1914.org

 

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