Salute to the Auster
The official Auster 80th Anniversary Fly-in took place at Middle Wallop on 7-8 April, marking eighty years since Auster manufacturer Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) was formed to build the US Taylorcraft two-seat, high-wing monoplane under licence. With a Taylorcraft Model A (G-AFDN) imported as a demonstrator, the first aircraft built at the factory at Thurmaston, Leicestershire was an improved Taylorcraft Plus C G-AFNW. Following Air Ministry trials, Taylorcraft received an order for 100 aircraft in 1941. Named Auster I in RAF service they were first delivered to Nos 651 and 654 Squadrons the following year for Air Observation Post (AOP) duties. Over 1,600 Austers (Mks 1-5) were built during WWII. The company changed its name to Auster Aircraft Ltd in March 1946 and went on to produce more AOP aircraft (Mks 6, 7 and 9) and numerous civil aircraft including the Auster 5 and J/1 Autocrat to a total of 3,868 by 1961.
The event, organised by Threshold.aero in collaboration with the International Auster Club, the Museum of Army Flying and the Army Air Corps (AAC), also celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of Middle
Wallop becoming the home of Army Aviation. While Army Air Observation Post training commenced at the RAF airfield in June 1948, it was ten years later that Middle Wallop became the Army Air Corps Centre.
Unfortunately, poor weather over much of the West of England meant that only half the anticipated 35+ Austers managed to fly in. They were, however, well representative of the Auster family with three Army variants (AOP6 TW536, T7 WE569 and AOP9 XR244) making a formation fly-over in salute to the anniversaries. The oldest civilian Auster present was 1946-built J/1 Autocrat G-AHAO.
The Historic Aircraft Flight Trust presented a line-up of its aircraft: Skeeter, Sioux, Auster AOP9 and Beaver together with the surprise addition of its former Alouette AH2 XR379, now appropriately registered in Guernsey as 2-ALOU, to mark the AAC anniversary. There was also the welcome addition of specially-painted Lynx AH9A ZG917, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the formation of No 657 Squadron with Auster Is and IIIS at Ouston in January 1943.
A neat trio of former AAC Austers (AOP9 XR244, AOP6 TW536 and T7 WE569) overhead Middle Wallop on 7 April
1946 J/1 Autocrat G-AHAO was the oldest civilian Auster at the fly-in
Former AAC Historic Flight Alouette XR379 now flies as 2-ALOU
Specially painted Lynx AH9A ZG917 commemorated the formation of No 657 Squadron 75 years ago