Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: David Niemegeerts  sbap 2017

 

It was during the last weekend of May that the Imperial War Museum of Duxford had scheduled its first airshow for the 2017 season. This time, no specific historical line or really outspoken theme, but an airshow oriented towards diversification , An Air Festival in all its splendor aiming to reach as many visitors as possible, and thus to promote a family visit to see the show. It was indeed a very varied program that allowed to discover the aircraft of the great war, thanks to the Great War display team and the Sopwith Pup coming from the Historic Aircraft Collection's, to admire the racers of the inter-war period which displayed the glory of the United Kingdom In various competitions, to see some mythical airplanes of the second war in flight, such as the B-17G "Sally B", or a fabulous duo of Spitfire Mk Ia bringing back memories of the Battle of Britain, reliving the historical jet era, and the Cold War through Jet Provost, Mig 15 or Sea Vixen, being amazed by the displays of the civil aerobatic teams like the Breitling Wingwalkers, the Trig team or the Blades each of which has a reputation that was clearly lived up to, and finally to shiver at the deafening roars of aircraft of last generation, such as the RAF Typhoon GR4 or the Rafale C of the French Air Force.
Certain displays were accompanied by pyrotechnic effects, such as the AH-64D Apache of the Royal Army Air Corps, which strongly appealed to the audience, that came in large numbers on this plateau of Duxford, bathed in sunshine worthy of the most beautiful Mediterranean summer.
One of the most awaited historical planes was undoubtedly the De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 "Foxy Lady", which offered a very interesting demonstration for photographers on Saturday, but alas, when it returned to its Yeovilton base, it was forced to perform a forced belly landing, due to a hydraulic problem affecting, among other things, the lowering of the landing gear. Fortunately, Cdr Simon Hargreaves, who perfectly mastered the emergency conditions got out unharmed. Following this misfortune, it will take a little while before we can see this amazing plane in the air show circuit again.
In addition to the in-flight demonstrations, the activities offered on the base were numerous, ranging from information that could be obtained at the various British Army stalls, visits to numerous hangars and thematic historical exhibitions. Speaking of these exhibitions, it should be noted that the year 2017 is the centenary of the Imperial War Museum, and that the mythical base of Duxford and its fabulous airshow are an integral part of it. It is therefore the ideal opportunity as part of this article on this first show of the season 2017 in Duxford, to review the history and the centenary of this indispensable institution for the military history of our neighbors across the Channel.

Imperial War Museums (IWM) is a leading authority on conflict and its impact, focusing on Britain, its former Empire and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present.
A group of five museums and entities compose the IWM and the main goal is to illustrate and records all aspects of modern.
The National War Museum was founded on 5 March 1917 when the War Cabinet approved a proposal made by Sir Alfred Mond, for the creation of this organization, and with main goal the records of all the events still taking place during the Great War. The intention was to collect and display material as a record of everyone's experiences during that war and to commemorate the sacrifices of all involved people.
The interest taken by the Dominion governments led to the renaming of the National War Museum to Imperial War Museum later in 1917. It was formally established by Act of Parliament in 1920, and a governing Board of Trustees was appointed.
The new museum was first located in the Crystal Palace and inaugurated by King George V on 9 June 1920. From 1924 to 1935 it was housed in two galleries adjoining the former Imperial Institute, South Kensington. On July 7th, 1936, the Duke of York, shortly to become King George VI, reopened the museum in its present home on Lambeth Road, South London, formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal Hospital, or "Bedlam".
With the onset of the Second World War, the IWM's remit was extended to include this Second World conflict. While a program of collecting got underway, vulnerable collections were evacuated and stored outside of London, and the museum was of course closed to the public from September 1940 until November 1946.
Fortunately most of the exhibits survived the war, but a Short Seaplane which had flown at the Battle of Jutland was shattered when a German bomb fell on the Naval Gallery on 31 January 1941. This was just one of more than 40 incendiary hits on the building throughout the war.
Shortly after the Second World War, another conflict began, the Korean War. This new war led to a further redefinition of the IWM's terms of reference to include all conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces had been involved since 1914. Imperial War Museums has therefore continued to collect every type of evidence documenting its very broad remit.
The collections are vast and rich, and in addition to its role as a museum, IWM is also a major national art gallery, a national archive of written and audio visual recourse, and a centre for research.
During the 1970s and 1980s IWM underwent a period of large expansion, with the establishment of three new branches: IWM Duxford in 1976, HMS Belfast in 1978 and Churchill War Rooms in 1984. The fifth member of the IWM family, called IWM North, opened in Trafford, (Manchester area), on 5 July 2002.

The SBAP team would like to thank Mrs Esther Blaine, Public Relation Manager and the entire Media Team, for the welcome which was once again very warm and for all the facilities during our visit, allowing us to complete this article.

 
 
 Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c The German "Ritterkreuz"
 Sun on the Sopwith Triplane
 The German DR.1 triplane Dazzle camouflage
 DR.1 pilot view: head down... ...and head up
 Percival Mew Gull... ...a real jewell
 The elegant Spitfire MkIa The muzzle of the Mustang
 Aeronca O-58B Grasshopper waiting some heavy rain on the Saturday morning Nothing is possible without the control
 Norwegian Noorduyn UC-64 Norseman De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
 The charming "Wingwalkers" frame
 The "Trig Team" Pitts S-1D Rotorsport UK Calidius
 The Belgian "Bronco Demo Team"
 Warsaw Pact fighter How to check the oil level  ;-)
 From Jet Provost...
  ...to Strikemaster
 A visit to the British Army: Pinzgauer 716M Truck Coyote Jackal 2 Tactical Support Vehicle
 The good old time... Youngsters...and adult entertainment
 Visit in the hangar: the famous  MH434 "Ferocious Frankie" seems real quite...
 Connecting rods and pistons Needles and instruments
 Fighter Collection facilities: Cleaning in progress MV268 overhaul
 Visit to the different museum sections was also possible... ...the American Museum
 A walk between the airliners: Britannia, Herald and VC-10... ...and the beautiful Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador
 
 The Great War Display Team and the Sopwith Pup (Historic Aircraft Collection's)
 
 
 
 British Army "Red Devils" Freefall Team
 
 
 North American Rockwell OV-10B Bronco (Bronco Demo Team)
 
 RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 Display from Fl. Lt Ryan Lawton
 

 
 Breitling Wingwalkers Team
 
 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Sally B" and North American TF-51D Mustang "Miss Velma" 
(B-17 P
reservation & Richard Grace)
 
 
 British Army Boeing AH-64D Apache Display Team
 
 
 Extra EA-300L The "Blades" Display Team
 
 
 
 BAC Jet Provost T.5 and BAC 167 Strikemaster (Heritage Aviation & Mark Petrie)
 
 
 
 De Havilland DH.88 "Comet" and Percival Mew Gull duo (Shuttleworth Collection)
 
 
 De Havilland DH.90 Dragonfly and De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide
(S
hipping and Airlines Ltd & D & M Miller)
 
 
 De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (ARCO) and Noorduyn UC-64 Norseman (Norwegian Spitfire Fundation)
 
 
 
 Pitts S-1D 'Trig" Display Team
 
 
 Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (Plane Sailing)
 
 
 De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen "Foxy Lady" (Naval Aviation Ltd)
 )

XP 924 first flew on 23 September 1963 and was delivered to 899 Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton on 18 December 1963. The aircraft suffered a number of incidents during its time in squadron service. Tyre bursts, canopy shattering, some engine problems and, while serving at sea in HMS Eagle, an inadvertent release of a practice bomb near the island of Gan in the Indian Ocean! Retirement from active service sent her to Royal Naval Aircraft Yard at Belfast in August 1971. The Royal Aircraft Establishments (RAE) at Farnborough and Llanbedr were in possession from 4 June 1973 until August 1977. Flight Refuelling took over on 11 October 1977 at Tarrant Rushton and converted her to a Drone (D3) with a Red and Yellow paint scheme to improve visual acuity. In February 1996 she was taken on by de Havilland Aviation and was re-registered as G-CVIX. In May 2003 she was painted in "Red Bull" colours as a sponsorship arrangement and was subsequently purchased on 18 April 2006 by Drilling Systems Ltd (Mr Julian Jones) and operated from Bournemouth. March 2007 saw a return to Naval colours as XP 924 with the 899 Squadron mailed fist logo. The aircraft was gifted to Naval Aviation Ltd in September 2014 and now operates from the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

 

XP924 in 1977 as D3 drone and in 2003 in "Red Bull" colours  Cdr Simon Hargreaves
  
As you will all be aware, 'Foxy Lady' was skillfully 'belly landed' back here at RNAS Yeovilton after a stunning air display at Duxford on Saturday. Suffering from a Hydraulic failure, Cdr Simon Hargreaves performed a text-book gear-up landing, which will have hopefully reduced the damage to the aircraft. Reading the various comments on the media pages, we can say that the expertise, and skill of Cdr Hargreaves the pilot was an evidence. His bravery in trying to save the Sea Vixen, is a testament to his skill, dedication and professionalism.

So, who is Cdr Simon Hargreaves?

Cdr Simon Hargreaves OBE Royal Navy Reserve is one of the most experienced fast-jet pilots in the United Kingdom, and brings this experience to display the world's last airworthy de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 in a truly thrilling way.
In the early 1980's Simon qualified as a Royal Navy Sea Harrier pilot and was appointed to 800 Naval Air Squadron (NAS). It was while with 800NAS that he went to war when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982. Flying from HMS Hermes, Simon was the first British pilot to intercept an enemy aircraft and followed this with over 70 combat missions over the Islands.
Simon spent 25 years flying the Sea Harrier which included being display pilot in 1985 & 1986. He was selected for the world famous Empire Test Pilot's School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire in 1987. During the following tour at Boscombe Down Simon was involved in the flight test programmes of Sea Harrier, Harrier, Jaguar and Tornado. This was followed by becoming the Commanding Officer of 899 NAS (the Headquarters and Training squadron for the Sea Harrier) in September 1992.
After leaving the Royal Navy in 1995 Simon became a company test pilot when he joined BAE Systems at Dunsfold as a Harrier and Hawk test pilot. In 1997 he became involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme. Moving to Lockheed Martin's legendary 'Skunk Works' in California, Simon flew much of the early X-35 Concept Demonstrator aircraft programme in all three variants of the aircraft. Simon made history when he made the first flight in the X-35B (and flew all subsequent envelope expansion sorties), which has developed into the F-35B Lightning II; the future multi-role, 5th generation, stealth fighter for the Royal Navy.
With his JSF work complete he became Deputy Chief Test Pilot (DCTP) for BAE Systems at Warton where he again undertook flight test on Harrier, Hawk, Typhoon and Tornado.
Alongside his test flying Simon flew the Sea Harrier (up until 2005) and still flies the Hawk T1 as part of the Royal Navy Reserve Air Branch.
Simon is also Operations Director for Hawker Hunter Aviation (HHA) based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
In 2002 Simon was awarded the 'Derry & Richards Memorial Medal' by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots for 'a test pilot who has made an outstanding contribution in advancing the art and science of aviation'. Simon was also awarded the OBE for services to aviation in 2004.
Simon first flew Sea Vixen XP924 in 2011 and since the aircraft moved to the Fly Navy Heritage Trust in September 2014 he is the sole display pilot. In display seasons 2014 , 2015 & 2016 he displayed XP924 at numerous airshows across Southern England including RNAS Yeovilton & Culdrose, Bournemouth, Jersey & Old Warden. Simon will continue to display the Sea Vixen through 2017 and beyond.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 French Air Force Dassault Rafale "C" Display by Cpn Jean-Guillaume "Marty" Martinez
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-15 UTI (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron)
 
 
 
 Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia duo (Commanche Fighters & Imperial War Museum)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Just for fun...the Spitfire Mk Ia with the real special clouds background announcing an heavy rain on Saturday morning (superposed pictures)
 


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