Old Timers

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Mag­nif­i­cent Dux­ford, BBMF, and Me­teor, but Yeovil­ton lacked the RN

This year’s 25th an­nual Fly­ing Leg­ends Air Dis­play or­gan­ised by The Fighter Col­lec­tion (TFC) on 8-9 July at IWM Dux­ford was in­deed mem­o­rable for its out­stand­ing fly­ing and the over­all nos­tal­gic ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vided for the large crowd. It will also be re­mem­bered for the two re­mark­able in­ci­dents to P-51 Mus­tangs. Amongst the 44 air­craft line-up for the fly­ing pro­gramme were a dozen Spit­fires, five Hur­ri­canes and five Mus­tangs, four Cur­tiss Hawks, and for the first time a quar­tet of his­toric rac­ers.

The three-hour fly­ing dis­play (pre­saged by the Red Ar­rows on Sun­day) opened with a for­ma­tion of eight Spit­fires and a Seafire, led by Cliff Spink in the sil­ver-painted Spit­fire XVIII SM845. Next up was a solo dis­play by Nick Grey in Co­manche Fight­ers’ P-51B Mus­tang Ber­lin Ex­press that had ar­rived at Dux­ford just a few days be­fore after Lee Laud­er­back, CEO of Stal­lion 51, had flown it across the At­lantic from Hous­ton, Texas. Div­ing in across the air­field at over 340kt on its open­ing pass the P-51’s bub­ble ‘Mal­colm’ hood in­ex­pli­ca­bly dis­in­te­grated dam­ag­ing the fin and port tailplane and show­er­ing the run­way with frag­ments. Nick Grey was un­in­jured and quickly landed the draughty fighter. This P-51B was re­stored by Pa­cific Fight­ers and is painted to rep­re­sent the air­craft flown by 1Lt Bill Over­street who fa­mously pur­sued a Luft­waffe Bf 109 through the arches of the Eif­fel Tower in Paris be­fore shoot­ing it down. John Muszala made its first post restora­tion flight at Idaho Falls on 27 Novem­ber 2014.

The fly­ing con­tin­ued with a trio of naval fight­ers — TFC’S FG-1D Cor­sair and F8F Bearcat along with Anglia Air­craft Restora­tions’ (AAR) Hawker Fury ISS flown by Richard Grace. Three of TFC’S unique col­lec­tion of Cur­tiss Hawks then took to the air. The fa­mil­iar sight of B-17 Sally B ini­tially ac­com­pa­nied by a P-51 ‘Lit­tle Friend’ is al­ways pop­u­lar. From Switzer­land, Clas­sic For­ma­tion’s DC-3 and two Beech 18s gave a very dis­tinc­tive dis­play with tight ma­noeu­vres al­most within the air­field bound­ary. It was next the turn of the ‘Luft­waffe’ to take to the sky with artis­tic aer­o­bat­ics by Anna Walker in the Span­ish­built Jung­mann and John Ro­main in the ‘newly weath­ered’ Buchón join­ing com­bat with Alan Wade in TFC’S Warhawk.

A high­light of the af­ter­noon came with the Bat­tle of Bri­tain se­quence in which five Hur­ri­canes, three Spit­fire IAS and ARC’S

Blen­heim took to the sky. Hugh Tay­lor’s Hur­ri­cane I P3717, Hur­ri­cane Her­itage’s R4118, HAC’S P3700 and Shut­tle­worth’s Sea Hur­ri­cane Z7015, were joined by AAR’S Hur­ri­cane I P2902 on its pub­lic de­but. P2902 had crashed near Dunkirk on 31 May 1940 and parts were re­cov­ered in 1989 be­fore be­ing moved to Hawker Restora­tions at Milden in 1994. Fol­low­ing stor­age and a long re­build P2902 be­came the world’s 15th air­wor­thy Hur­ri­cane when it was flown by Stu Gold­spink at Elm­sett on 19 June 2017. Lee Proud­foot flew the Blen­heim with Spit­fire IAS N3200, P3708 and X4650 fol­low­ing. This mag­nif­i­cent sight will hope­fully be re­peated at the IWM Dux­ford’s Bat­tle of Bri­tain Air Show on 23-24 Septem­ber.

While ‘The Horse­men’ — Steve Hinton, Ed Ship­ley and Dan Fried­kin, gave their amaz­ing close for­ma­tion dis­play on Sun­day in F-6K Fre­n­esi, P-51D Miss He­len and P-51D ‘Shark­mouth’, they were un­able to fly on Satur­day. Dan Fried­kin’s rare photo-re­con­nais­sance F-6K Mus­tang 44-12852 had a very in­volved his­tory after be­ing sold to a pri­vate owner in 1946 up un­til James Beasley bought it in 2005. He de­cided to have it fully re­stored to rep­re­sent the P-51D 44-13318 Fre­n­esi that was flown by Lt Col ‘Tommy’ Hayes with the 364th Fighter Squadron at Leis­ton, Suf­folk in the sum­mer of 1944. Dan Fried­kin, who ac­quired the Mus­tang in 2009 for Co­manche Fight­ers, made its first post-restora­tion flight at Danville, Illi­nois on 31 Jan­uary 2017. He had it spe­cially shipped to the UK to ap­pear at Fly­ing Leg­ends.

There was a com­plete change of pace with the ‘new’ air racing seg­ment of the fly­ing pro­gramme when Shut­tle­worth’s DH88 Comet and Mew Gull G-AEXF, Richard See­ley’s Travel Air Type R ‘Mys­tery Ship’ and Pete Kynsey’s Cos­mic Wind Bal­le­rina took to the air for a mock ‘30s-style air race. This was fol­lowed by a solo dis­play from Dakota Nor­way’s DC-3. It should have been part­nered by Fly­ing Vet­er­ans’ DC-3C SE-CFP Daisy but that un­for­tu­nately had an en­gine prob­lem while en route from Swe­den. The fi­nal ‘odd cou­ple’ in the dis­play was Plane Sail­ing’s PBV-1 Canso G-PBYA and TFC’S FM-2 Wild­cat. The af­ter­noon’s fly­ing con­cluded with the tra­di­tional large for­ma­tion Balbo with ‘The Joker’ pro­vid­ing the in­ter­mis­sion. This year it was Richard Grace in the Fury (Satur­day) and Nick Grey in a Spit­fire (Sun­day).

The se­cond Mus­tang in­ci­dent oc­curred when the Sun­day Balbo flew over­head. Mark Levy in AAR’S TF-51D Miss Velma broke out of the for­ma­tion as its en­gine failed. On base leg east of the M11 mo­tor­way Mark re­alised he was not going to make Dux­ford’s 24 run­way and de­cided to land straight ahead in a wheat field. At the last minute he re­tracted the Mus­tang’s un­der­car­riage and safely pan­caked into the crop. He was un­in­jured and the air­craft was re­cov­ered to the air­field the fol­low­ing day. Quite un­prece­dented, this was the fourth en­gine fail­ure by an air­craft tak­ing part in a UK fly­ing dis­play (Twis­ter, Avro 504, Glad­i­a­tor and Mus­tang) and it was only half way through the season.

Clas­sic For­ma­tion’s shiny DC-3 and Beech 18s B-17 Sally B ac­com­pa­nied by a P-51D ‘Lit­tle Friend’

Unique Bat­tle of Bri­tain for­ma­tion: five Hur­ri­canes, three Spit­fire IAS and the Blen­heim

Above and left: P-51B’S bub­ble ‘Mal­colm’ hood dis­in­te­grates over the run­way but Nick Grey safely lands the cabri­o­let Mus­tang


Stu Gold­spink land­ing the ‘new’ Hur­ri­cane P2902 Dan Fried­kin in his newly re­stored F-6K Mus­tang Air rac­ers Cos­mic Wind, Mew Gull, Mys­tery Ship and Comet

Miss Velma landed in the corn field after en­gine fail­ure dur­ing the Balbo

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