First at the Air & Country Show
Sharing pole position with Old Warden, the 19th annual Abingdon Air & Country Show on Sunday 6 May opened the UK’S 2018 airshow season with good weather and enthusiastic support from aviators, traders and a large crowd. Organised by Neil Porter and his hard-working volunteer team, the event skilfully combined a range of ground attractions, a morning fly-in and a three-and-a-half-hour air display.
Being the season’s opening weekend there were numerous debuts, not least of which was RN Historic Flight CO, Lt Cdr Chris Gotke’s first public display in Sea Fury T20 VX281 since his spectacular forced landing at Culdrose in August 2014. Making its first ever airshow appearance, the two-seat Hispano HA1112-M4L Buchón ‘Red 11’ was flown by Richard Grace in a pairs routine with Alex Smee in the ‘Grace Spitfire’ ML407. The Buchón last flew in the UK as a camera ship during filming of the Battle of Britain movie in 1968, after which it was stored in Texas. Having returned to the UK in 2016, it flew again in November 2017 following restoration by Air Leasing at Sywell. There were new paint schemes aired for the first time on the BBMF’S Spitfire TE311 (see ‘Old Timers’, June) and by Mark Petrie on his former Sultan of Oman Air Force Strikemaster 82a G-SOAF.
In a show full of quality performances, Rod Dean in Slingsby Firefly G-BNSR, Andy Moorhouse flying the RN Sharks team-painted Gazelle HT2 XX436, Nick Houghton in Beech 18 G-BKGL and Peter Teichman making his last Abingdon appearance in Spitfire PR XI PL965, were outstanding. As a crowd pleaser, Rich Goodwin in his Pitts S-2S G-EWIZ ‘Muscle Biplane’ knife-edging at ultra-low level along the runway’s length to race a Jaguar F-pace, took some beating. In contrast, the Catalina’s graceful flypasts, the Historic Army Aircraft Flight’s Beaver and Auster AOP9’S STOL performances and the gyrations of the Great War Display Team’s seven replicas, were all highly entertaining.
The morning fly-in included numerous types saluting the RAF’S centenary – Tiger Moth, Harvard, Chipmunk, Bulldog, Jet Provost T3A, Auster AOP6, Argus, Spitfire 26, and a No 47 Sqn Hercules C4 from nearby RAF Brize Norton. In addition, the 621 VGS Historic Flight presented its Slingsby Cadet and Sedbergh gliders in the static display. Hopefully a large donation to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance charity will be the end result from this RAF100 tribute day at the once-major base that held the RAF’S half-century anniversary event back in 1968.
Thrilling low-level, knife-edge race from Rich Goodwin’s ‘Muscle Biplane’
ABOVE: Abingdon’s star turn – unique two-seat Buchón ‘Red 11’s’ airshow debut BELOW: another public first – Mark Petrie’s repainted Strikemaster