Saturday August 7th saw the return of the East Kirkby Airshow, following its 2020 Covid related absence. The show, held at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is always a popular event, featuring some lesser seen types from both yesteryear and the modern day.
If the weather forecast was to be believed, it was to be a washout, with high winds, rain and lightning forecast for the majority of the flying display times. Fortunately the weather gods played the game, with only a brief(ish) shower appearing at the end of the day, curtailing the BBMF’s Fighter display as the final act.
Weather elsewhere did, prevent the @greatwarteam from joining us, but Kevin Hale made use of their Pyro’s as part of his Auster Display, demonstrating the use of AOP9 to call in artillery fire. Arriving in a type not normally associated with Dan Griffiths, the unmistakeable shape and sound of the YAK-50 appeared above the airfield with Dan, demonstrating the aircrafts abilities, with his normal style and finesse.
One of the highlights for many in the sell out crowd, was welcome return of The Blades to the former WW2 base. The Sywell based team, now in their 15th year, got airborne from the runway, thrilling the crowd with their punchy display of high energy aerobatics, formations and precision.
The Blades Extra 300’s were not the only examples on display, with Chris Burkett’s Extra 300S on show, complete with it’s smaller doppelganger model flown by Mike Williams. In an incredible display of skill from both pilots, the synchronised routine of aerobatics, timed to the second and absolutely mirrored, left many wondering which was the model and which was the full size aircraft at times.
Another first time display for East Kirkby saw Tim Barron’s display in the Aeronca 7AC Champion. Known as the Cheeky Champ display, the display is one that comprises elements of the early days of airshows and barnstorming, with balloon popping and ribbon towing, in fact some 550ft of multi-coloured Ribbon.
Stu Blanchard’s display of the Miles Gemini, another first appearance at EK, saw a rare appearance of the type in display. The strange shape and lines of the aircraft, flown elegantly adds to the mantra that some of the best displays are those, which feature aircraft doing simple things well. A very rare type in the form of the Nord Norvigie was the last of the first appearances for this years event. Flown by Richard Ellingworth, as he appeared from the aircraft’s home at Spanhoe. This example, built in 1955, retaining the colours of its service with the French Army, just one of 112 built for the aerial observation role.
Paul Freeland made a welcome return in a spirited display of his SF-260. A mix of high speed and slow passes, showing the Marchetti’s performance, handling and of course it’s Italian design, as to why it’s been such a successful aircraft to date, with many hundreds still remaining in operational service to date. The Weather at Coningsby meant a delay to the BBMF’s performance, with the home team of Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ and DH MosquitoHJ711 owned by Tony Agar to strike up the RR Merlin’s in a synchronised taxy run around the airfield. With former BBMF pilots Ernie Taylor in the Lancaster and Ed Straw in the Mosquito, showing the progress in restoration that the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre have made on both aircraft.
Just as the rain came in the familar sound of the BBMF’ Dakota appeared and completed her full display, with Flt Lt Ernie Wise in command. Another graceful display of this mighty workhorse of not just WW2, but many a conflict since, is just as fitting as a Lancaster, which had been planned. The Dakota gave way to the fighters after a short display with Flt Lt Andy Preece and Sqn Leader Mike Sugden in the two Spitfires, this time in the form of TE311 (Mk16) and PM631 (PR19) mixing the tones of both the Merlin and Griffon engines. Their display was limited to flypasts due to the weather, but none the less a great routine, which the now slightly soggier crowd waited to watch.
Sometimes you have to save the best till last, even though it was a display in the middle of programme. Perhaps unfair to say the best, but this display just had something special about it. The un mistakeable sight of the B-17 on the horizon is always a joy to see and when Sally B arrives everyone stops and takes notice. There was something about todays display that was different, one of those things you sometimes can’t describe, but there was. Peter Kuypers elegant display of an aircraft designed to be anything but, was fantastic, with a picture perfect sky, new paint and a master at the controls, leaving many saying it was the best display they had seen of her in recent years. A fitting representation of what you can achieve with determination, courage and dedication when restoring these icons of flight by all those involved. A dream and goal shared by all the team restoring Just Jane at East Kirkby.