Flying in a Spitfire at Duxford: An Experience of a Lifetime

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For anyone who is a fan of flight and of warbirds in particular, flying in a Spitfire at Duxford is an opportunity not to be missed. At the Imperial War Museum Duxford you can enjoy flight experiences with some of the most iconic planes from World War II. You can fly wing to wing with these vintage aircrft or enjoy the full Spitfire experience with a flight in a two seater Spitfire, during which you’ll have the opportunity to take the controls yourself for an unforgettable experience.

Put on a flight suit and enjoy a very special flight in a two seater Spitfire, a Harvard, or a Tiger Moth. Alternatively, how about a window seat in a Dragon Rapide as you fly wing to wing with a Duxford Spitfire flying alongside?

After your pleasure flight you can round of the day with entry to IWM Duxford and marvel at the fascinating collection of famous aircraft where you can learn all about the aviation history of Britain, the USA, and elsewhere.

Flying in a Spitfire

Few two seat Spitfires exist

Few aviation experiences are as exhilarating as flying in a Spitfire. These iconic WWII fighter aircraft that played such an important role in the Battle of Britain are still revered today for their sleek design and powerful Rolls Royce Merlin and Griffon engines. And what could be more exciting than taking the controls of one of these historic aircraft?

Fortunately, there are a few companies that offer the chance to fly in a two-seat Spitfire. These flights typically last around 30 minutes but they can last longer. They’re packed with adrenaline-pumping action. You’ll get to experience first-hand what it was like to fly one of these legendary aircraft. To fly in a Spitfire is one of those flying experiences that will put a grin on your face that will last for weeks.

So if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to check out flight options in a two-seat Spitfire.

Harvard Flights

Harvard T6 at Goodwood

Harvard flights are an option at Duxford and elsewhere in the UK as I’ve explained in this post.

You step into the aircraft and are enveloped in the smell of leather, grease, and oil. You can feel the excitement in the air as you strap yourself in and prepare for takeoff. The engine roars to life, and the plane begins to vibrate as it accelerates down the runway. In a matter of moments, you are airborne, and the ground is falling away beneath you.

As you climb higher and higher, the world below seems to shrink until it is like a toy model. You can see for miles in every direction, and the sense of freedom is exhilarating. For a few brief moments, you forget all your cares and worries and simply enjoy the ride. That is the power of flight.

Tiger Moth Flights

Tiger Moth at Shoreham

You’ve always dreamed of flying, and there’s no better way to experience the joys of aviation than in a Tiger Moth biplane as I explained in this post.

As you take off in the two-seat open cockpit, you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of the engine and the wind rushing through the wires on the wing. You’ll instantly feel a sense of freedom as you climb into the skies.

And as you soar over the landscape, you’ll have a unique perspective on the world below. Whether you’re taking in the sights of a cityscape or enjoying the tranquility of a rural setting, flight in a Tiger Moth biplane is an unforgettable experience. So what are you waiting for? Book your flight today and enjoy all that aviation has to offer.

Dragon Rapide Flights

Dragon Rapide at Goodwood

You board the plane, take your window seat, and buckle your seatbelt. The two Gipsy Six engines roar to life and within minutes you’re airborne, soaring over the English countryside. The fields and hills look like a patchwork quilt from above, and you can see for miles in every direction.

As you fly, you spot landmarks in the distance or perhaps a river winding its way through the landscape. The ride is smooth and peaceful, and you can’t help but feel amazed at the beauty of it all. Before long, you’re reluctant to land back on solid ground.

This was air travel in the 1930s. Slow, elegant, and graceful.

Dragon Rapide & Tiger Moth Flights

If you can’t decide between the Tiger Moth or flights onboard the elegant flight in the Dragon Rapide then why not do both? You can select a date and time or buy a gift voucher for someone special.

Flights as a passenger aboard a de Havilland Rapide are more affordable than flights in the warbirds and you have the added advantage of the privileged position inside where you can make yourself comfortable, ready for the Duxford Spitfire flying alongside.

Formation Flights with a Spitfire

Another option for those who want the ultimate flight experience is to fly in formation with a Spitfire, either in the back of a Harvard or sitting in a passenger seat aboard a Dragon Rapide. With both options the two aircraft will fly side by side, wing tip to wing tip, giving you plenty of opportunities to take many memorable photos and create wonderful video clips.

Light Aircraft Flights

Learning to fly is an exhilarating experience, and it’s something that anyone can learn to do. It all begins with some trial flying lessons

During an introductory flying lesson, you’ll have the chance to take the controls of the aircraft and learn what it feels like to fly. You’ll learn about the basic principles of aerodynamics and how to control the aircraft in different conditions.

If you’ve ever dreamed of learning to fly, a trial flying lesson is a must. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and it could be the beginning of a whole new chapter in your life.

Imperial War Museum at Duxford

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is the perfect place to learn about the history of military aviation. As you explore the museum, you’ll see countless examples of both American and British aviation aircraft that played such an important role both before and during the Second World War.

The museum houses a collection of over 300 aircraft, tanks and vehicles, as well as uniforms, medals and personal memorabilia. There are also interactive exhibits, films and audio guides available. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is a unique and fascinating place to visit.

Duxford is a working airfield and plays host to a number of events during the year. It’s well known to Spitfire fans due to the airshows held there each year. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is located on the site of the former RAF Duxford, a Second World War fighter base.

Spitfire Gift of Wings

The memory of a Spitfire flight experience will last a lifetime. To fly in a Spitfire will make you appreciate all kinds of things; from the courage displayed by the young men who went into battle in these aircraft, to the young women who delivered them from factories to airfields in all weathers, to the pilots of today like those in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who fly with such precision.

Continue your journey of discovery and broaden your experience by visiting the Biggin Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill airfield in Surrey, North Weald airfield in Essex, and Headcorn aerodrome in Kent. Flights from some of these bases can reach the white cliffs of the southern coast and Beachy Head, providing the opportunity for the ultimate souvenir photograph of an iconic Spitfire set against the backdrop of the white cliffs – a timeless shot evoking the Battle of Britain.

Drop in to Solent Airport during weekdays in the summer to watch the two seater Spitfires taxi up as they take lucky passengers on flights around the Isle of Wight. These Spitfire flights begin at Spitfires.com based at Goodwood airfield. The passenger may be a very experienced pilot who is converting to the Spitfire and is undergoing training or simply someone who is enjoying a wonderful day and fulfilling a lifetime ambition to fly in a Spitfire and who knows, perhaps perform a Victory Roll somewhere over the Solent.

Points to note about Spitfire Experience & Spitfire Flying

  • Duxford Spitfire flights and others in the vintage aircraft mentioned above are provided by Classic Wings.
  • Included in the price is complimentary same day entry to the IWM Duxford.
  • All flights weather dependent so be sure to check with the team before leaving home to travel to Duxford, particularly if you have a long journey. With the journey time, the pre flight briefing, the Supermarine Spitfire flight (or whichever flight you choose), and the visit the the museum itself, you’ll be kept busy for the whole day.
  • Be sure to have enough power and memory in your phone or camera for all the video footage and breathtaking photos you will probably want to capture.
  • Actual flight time on the day may vary slightly.
  • All flights are preceded by a safety briefing.
  • All information on this page is correct to the best of my knowledge so always check with the vendor for confirmation.

Conclusion

Even if you’re not an avgeek or aviation enthusiast, to see a Spitfire flying gladdens the heart. this iconic aircraft seems to reach out to people in a way that few other type can. To fly in a Spitfire is therefore a fantastic experience and Duxford airfield is one of several places in the UK where this is possible. With its heritage and history this airfield is a very appropriate venue.

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9 Essential Pieces of Equipment for Planespotters

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There are people who travel the world visiting airports and airfields just to watch airplanes take off and land. They’re called planespotters, and if you’re fascinated by aviation, this could be the perfect hobby for you too.

This article will cover the basics of what plane spotting is and why it’s important to aviation. It will also provide a few reasons why aviation enthusiasts should care about planespotting, including the implications the hobby could have on their understanding of aviation and air travel.

About Plane Spotting and Plane Spotters

Some prefer the term ‘aviation enthusiast‘ due to the stigma associated with the terms planespotter and planespotting. For them, it too closely resembles trainspotter and the nerdy associations that these hobbies attract

This is an unfair and inaccurate perspective. Aircraft spotting is a hobby that many individuals from all walks of life enjoy, both men and women, and it can be a way of introducing children and young adults into the fascinating world of aviation, air travel, and aircraft of all types, civil, commercial, and military aircraft.

So, if you’re attracted to this hobby you’ll need to gather a few essential pieces of kit to become an aircraft spotter. Here are nine items you’ll need to get started:

1. A Good Camera

As an airplane spotter you’re probably going to want to photograph the aircraft you see, and for this you’ll need a good camera. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need the most expensive DSLR on the market and it may be that your smartphone’s camera is up to the job if it’s one of the latest models.

However, you can’t beat a camera with a telephoto lens so eventually, you’ll want to buy the best you can afford. You can upgrade later as your hobby develops. It may be a while before you’re ready to purchase a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens with a price in four figures.

With practice you’ll be able to develop your photography skills to such a level that your photos will be accepted on sites like airliners.net and jetphotos.com, but be warned – they don’t accept any snaps that don’t meet their stringent standards.

Standing at the end of a runway at airports around the world while taking photos is, for many plane spotters, the main reason they took up aircraft spotting.

A visit to an air show could become plane spotting habit.
Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

2. A Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is a must-have for any planespotter. It allows you to see airplanes that are still far away on the approach path, and it can help you get a better view of the details on an aircraft’s fuselage. If you want to save money, you can buy a used spotting scope. Just make sure that it comes with a tripod.

With this piece of kit you’ll be able to distinguish between aircraft, airlines, and military aircraft at a greater distance.

Svbony SV28 20-60x60 Spotting Scope, Tripod, Phone Adapter, Bak-4 Prism MC Optics Angled Spotting Scope for Target Shooting, Birdwatching
  • HD SPOTTING SCOPE; Bak4 porro prism and multi-coated green film for bright clear and high-contrast images even in low light conditions; Advanced coating for improved light transmission
  • POWERFUL SPOTTING SCOPE; 20x-60x zoom magnification with 60mm objective brings you closer to nature; a wide field of view at 40-21m/ 1000m; 45°inclination eyepiece; Eye Relief 19.5mm ; Exit Pupil 3.25mm delivers a comfortable view
  • IP65 WATERPROOF SPOTTING SCOPE; sealed with O-ring prevent moisture dust and debris from getting inside the spotting scope for reliable performance in all environments; nitrogen filled makes the spotting scope can fog-proof
  • The spotting scope comes with digiscoping adapter that you can take and share wonderful moment to your family; compatible with iPhone X Phone 8/8plus Samsung Galaxy Hua Wei , ect.
  • Table Tripod; The SV28 spotting scope come with a table tripod for indoor use with basic stability; If you are an outdoor enthusiast, it is recommended to use a camera tripod

3. A Good Pair of Binoculars

Binoculars are another essential piece of equipment for planespotters. They’re not as powerful as a spotting scope, but they’re lighter and easier to carry around. Look for a pair with at least 10x magnification and don’t buy those that are too heavy.

You want something light but powerful enough to view the aircraft in the circuit, on approach, and after takeoff, for checking registrations and other details.

Binoculars for Adults Bird Watching usogood 12x50 High Power Binoculars for Stargazing, Traveling, Hunting and Hiking Binoculars with Tripod Phone Adaptor for Photography - BaK-4 Prisms, FMC Lens
  • 【Bird Watching Binoculars for Adults】With 12x magnification and 50mm lens, it provides a bright and clear view as far as 374 ft/1000 yards. The 2.5 meters closest observation distance is also suitable for birdwatching in the garden. Designed for observation in various activities like hiking, sports events, concerts and stargazing and special gift for family and friends.
  • 【Phone Adaptor and Tripod】The compact binocular comes with the phone adaptor and tripod, convenient for taking pictures, video recording and watching for a long time. The phone adaptor is compatible with most phone models, and the tripod thread interface is compatible with other standard photographic tripod bolts , i.e. 1/4"-20 BSW thread, meeting various needs.
  • 【Super Bright and Clear View】The stargazing binoculars adopt FMC fully multi-coated optics and phase coated 16.5MM BaK-4 prisms, provide superior 97.98% light transmission. The Exit-pupil Diameter is close to the pupil diameter of human to ensure the best observation effect. The adjustable Interpupillary Distance(55~75mm) is designed for all kinds of people.
  • 【Quick and Easy to Focus】Double threaded focus knobs-Center Focus Knob&Diopter Adjustment Ring increase the friction between your finger and the knob, allow you to focus more quickly and accurately while observing constantly moving objects. Twist-up eyecups help people who wear glasses focus better.
  • 【Waterproof and Durable Armor】The sturdy binoculars have wear-resistant rubber armor, with a unique non-slip design to achieve impact resistance, firm grip and waterproof under the harshest weather. Two-year warranty for no reasons, 7 days and 24 hrs technical support always for you.

4. A Planespotting Guide

If you want to identify the different types of aircraft you see, you’re going to need a planespotting guide. These guides come in both print and digital formats, and they’re packed with information on different types of aircraft.

In time, you’ll be able to recognize aircraft without a guide but it can be tricky to distinguish between aircraft of the same basic model but different variants.

Airport Spotting Guides UK & Ireland
  • Matt Falcus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 98 Pages - 09/30/2016 (Publication Date) - DestinWorld Publishing Ltd. (Publisher)

5. A Notebook

You’ll need a notebook to keep track of the planes you see. In your notebook, you can record the plane’s make and model, its tail number, and the date and location where you saw it. This is a great way to keep track of your planespotting adventures. You might instantly recognise a Spitfire but in the heat of the moment it would be a shame to miss its registration. Armed with htis information you can research its pedigree.

You can transpose this handwritten record to a digital copy later, when you’re back at home and reviewing your day’s activities. Your plane spotting record might include the aircraft spotted, the city and airport code letters, and any ancillary activities noted during the course of the day.

2 Pack Pocket Notebook Small Notebook , A6 Notebooks 100 GSM Thick Paper Executive Hard with Marker Ribbons Pen Holder Elastic Closure 9x14cm Small Notepad Black
  • [Thick Paper] 2 pack of hardcover notebooks, 100MSG thick paper that is suitable for most inks. 160 pages in total ,and the last 24 unnumbered pages can be easily torn off.
  • [Sturdy and Durable] The cover is made of pu leather and cardboard, sturdy and durable. The strap keeps the notebook closed, allowing the notebook to suit most working environments and promoting user experience.
  • [Convenient to use] Pocket size fits well in your pocket, ribbon bookmark gives you a simple way to find the information you want, pen holder to hold the pen in your notebook for easy access.
  • [Suitable for...]Our pocket notebooks are suitable for those who need to take notes at any time, such as business executives, students, scientists and others in different fields, so that important message can never be missed on most occasions.
  • [Satisfactory Customer Experience]We are committed to providing quality products and service. If there is any dissatisfaction with our products, please contact us and we will provide you with a satisfactory solution.

6. A Small Step Ladder

Buy yourself a small step ladder to give you some extra height when you’re waiting outside the airfield boundary. Just a few steps are enough as you don’t want a ladder that is too heavy to carry and unsteady on the ground because it’s too tall.

Being able to step up a little may mean the difference between a photo that has the perimeter fence in it or a clear view of the runway and the landing aircraft.

Home Vida 2 Step Ladder, Heavy Duty Steel, Portable Folding, with Anti-Slip Mat
  • Product Colour: White, Black
  • Product Size: H 81 x W 46 x D 56 Cm Approx.
  • Product Material: Iron & Plastic
  • Product Cleaning Instructions: Wipe With A Dry Cloth

7. An Airband Receiver

An airband receiver allows you to listen to the messages exchanged between aircraft and air traffic controllers. It’s perfectly legal to do so and you’ll see many planespotters wearing an earpiece while they listen in. By doing so you can anticipate which aircraft will appear next and you’ll be alerted to anything unusual or dramatic occurring in the air.

Uniden EZI-33 XLT Air band Radio Radio Scanner, Black
  • 180 Channels
  • 78-512MHz (with gaps)
  • 9 Pre-programmed service banks
  • Includes Owner's Manual

8. Protection From The Elements

Suitable clothing will depend on the season and the location of the airport or airfield. What began as a pleasant day on the drive to the airport can quickly become cold and uncomfortable if you’re standing at the edge of a windswept airfield for hours on end.

On the other hand, you may find the location for your plainspotting is exposed to hot sunshine, so you’ll need to remember to bring some suncream and perhaps something to create some shade. The umbrella you use on rainy days can become your parasol on the hottest days.

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  • AUTOMATIC OPEN: Automatic Open functionality ensures that there will be no delay to your comfort. Simply press the button on the handle to open in less than a second with single hand.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT & HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS: We use high quality fiberglass for the tips and ribs, which is strong and flexible whilst not being so heavy that you hand fatigues.The canopy uses ultra water resistant 210T pongee micro-weave fabric. This silk derived material is lightweight, quick drying.
  • DOUBLE CANOPY CONSTRUCTION: The double-canopy design and hardened steel frame will ensure that your umbrella is virtually windproof. The durable construction creates a vent during where wind can pass through, making the umbrella much easier to handle in harsh conditions.
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9. A Portable Seat

Take a break from your spotting or sit while you spot. At some point you’ll want to sit and rest while you enjoy that packed lunch you brought with you, and that flask of tea or coffee.

These portable and collapsable chairs are useful in all kinds of locations; airshows, fishing, picnics, and camping.

Trekology Chair Ultra Lightweight Camping Chairs for Adults, Folding Camping Chair Outdoor, Camp Chair Fold Up Garden Chairs Picnic Chair Foldable Chair, Portable Chair Compact Fishing Chairs Folding
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  • You Really Can Have It All! Super Durable and Sturdy Gear for Outdoors! The Yizi Go portable chair was Built to Last: Designed and Engineered with the same High strength aluminum alloys used by Aircraft manufacturers. The frame provides sturdy support with a weight capacity of up to 135kg. Engineering Grade 600D polyester seat fabric with double reinforced V stitch is durable, flexible and Machine Washable for ease of care.
  • Set Up in Seconds. Single piece (tent style) lightweight aluminum pole system with hand guide connection. The shock corded main frame allows you to guide the connected poles directly into the frame. The unique design of this fold up chair enables you to just pop it open, attach the seat fabric and You’re ready to go! Allowing you to immediately sit and enjoy a camp fire, outdoor festival, sporting event, etc. Pair with Sand Cover to increase foot area so it will not sink in sand or soft ground.
  • Out of Sight - There When You Need It - The durable 600D storage bag attaches to the seats mainframe with the included Pack Tight straps - Creating additional small item storage beneath the seat. Designed with “daisy chain style” multiple tie downs and end handles. The chairs versatile design allows you to not only attach the bag to the chair, but also your backpack, motorcycle, etc. When you’re done with Yizi Go collapsible camping chair stores back inside the included storage bag.
One day, you could be taking pictures like this.
Photo by david hili on Unsplash

Do’s and Don’ts of Plane Spotting

All planespotters are ambassadors for the hobby so it’s important that everyone who takes part aircraft spotting adheres to some commone sense ground rules.

  1. Don’t park illegally. Respect the neighourhood whether it’s urban or rural.
  2. Don’t trespass. Respect the airport security and don’t tread where you’re not permitted.
  3. Don’t litter. Take your rubbish home with you.
  1. Do answer questions if you’re approached by curious onlookers.
  2. Do make yourself aware of local bylaws and regulations.
  3. When plane spotting abroad, be aware that what may be legal at home could be illegal in another country.

Plane Spotting Locations

There are thousands of plane spotting locations around the globe, ranging from those that are easy to reach, even by public transport, to others that are much more challenging.

For example, you will often see people plane spotting at London Heathrow from a patch of grass in Myrtle Avenue.

Look up the airport of your choice and review the information online. Some airports provide viewing areas specifically for plane spotting, and these can be comfortable areas with nearby parking and refreshments.

Why should we care about plainspotters?

There are many reasons why aircraft spotting enthusiasts should care about planespotting.

First, this pastime could have implications on their understanding of aviation and air travel. For example, through planespotting, enthusiasts can learn about different types of aircraft and their capabilities.

Second, the hobby can also be a way for enthusiasts to connect with other people who share their passion for aviation and watching airplanes take off and land. This is particularly important given the fact that the global planespotting community is huge.

Finally, planespotting can also be a way for enthusiasts to support the aviation industry and its continued growth.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why aviation enthusiasts should care about planespotting. The hobby can have implications for their understanding of aviation and air travel, it can be a way for them to connect with others who share their passion, and it can also be a way for them to support the aviation industry.

If you’re interested in planes and aviation and you want to try spotting aircraft, it’s important to get started with the right tools. This list includes all of the essentials that you’ll need to start spotting planes like a pro. With these nine items, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running (or flying).

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Best reasons not to miss the Headcorn Airshow

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The Headcorn Airshow is an annual airshow that takes place in the village of Headcorn, Kent. The air show features a variety of historical and modern aircraft, as well as a variety of other attractions.

This air show is a very popular event for both aviation enthusiasts and those who are simply looking for a great day out. It’s an excellent way to learn about the history of aviation, as well as to see some of the most impressive aircraft in the world up close.

In addition, the air show provides a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and to make new friends. Whether you are an aviation enthusiast or simply looking for a fun day out, the Headcorn Airshow is an event not to be missed.

Aero Legends Battle of Britain Airshow

The stars of the show include the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which includes the last airworthy Avro Lancaster bomber in the UK, a Spitfire, and a Hurricane. There are also individual and group displays of other Spitfires and Hurricanes. These iconic World War II aircraft are still flying thanks to the work of Aero Legends, a company that specializes in keeping them in the air.

As well as two Spitfires, Aero Legends also fly two Douglas C-47s, two Harvard T6s, and two Tiger Moths The Aero Legends C-47s are a Skytrain and a Douglas variant. and The Harvard is a particularly loud vintage aircraft which makes a distinctive sound as it takes off.

Flying displays include skillfully choreographed Battle of Britain re-enactments in which you can watch as fighters tail chase each other, with their engines roaring and crowds cheering them on.

The Red Arrows often perform a flypast that has people surging forward to the fence line for the best position for those all-important camera shots. This year they will make their appearance on Friday 24th June.

There’s plenty more to see apart from the spectacular flying displays, from acrobatic displays to parachute drops. There is a large static aircraft park containing Battle of Britain aircraft displays, with family-friendly attractions alongside.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you may even be able to enjoy one of a series of flying experiences available in vintage aircraft. So whatever your age or interests, the Headcorn Airshow is sure to provide an enjoyable day out.

Tickets for the Airshow at Headcorn Aerodrome

Unlike the Bournemouth Airshow and others like it you’ll need a ticket to gain admission to this event. This Battle of Britain airshow is very popular so it’s advisable to buy your tickets for the weekend in advance through the official website. The next event is scheduled for 24th – 26th June 2022.

Now in its 7th year, it’s a well organised event with a large car park including disabled parking. The air show will proceed unless the weather is very poor, so check the forecast before your planned visit. Even in poor weather with a low cloud base it’s possible to put a limited show and the static aircraft will still be on display.

There are several ticket types, each allowing access to their respective enclosure.

  • General Admission Tickets
  • Spitfire Enclosure Tickets
  • Flightline Premiere Tickets
  • Flightline Walk Tickets

If this will be your first time at the Battle of Britain Airshow then take a look at my post about what to expect at such an event and how to make the most of it.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is most often seen as a group of three aircraft; a Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, and a Lancaster bomber. However, it contains many other aircraft. Here is a complete list to date:

  • 1 Avro Lancaster
  • 6 Supermarine Spitfires
  • 2 Hawker Hurricanes
  • 1 Douglas Dakota
  • 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunks

This flypast display team is based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, England, and was formed in 1957 to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. The aircraft was designed by R. J. Mitchell, and it first flew in 1936.

The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was also used by the RAF and other Allied countries during World War II. The aircraft was designed by Sydney Camm, and it first flew in November 1935.

The Lancaster is a British four-engined heavy bomber that was used by the RAF during World War II. The aircraft was designed by Roy Chadwick, and it first flew in January 1941.

The Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain was a crucial turning point in World War II. By the early summer of 1940, the Nazis occupied most of Europe and parts of North Africa. France had fallen and the remains of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk during a near-miraculous evacuation involving hundreds of military and civilian ships and boats. The USA had not entered the war and Britain stood alone.

Then, in June 1940, the Luftwaffe launched a massive air offensive against the British Isles in an attempt to gain air superiority ahead of a planned invasion. However, the Royal Air Force rose to the challenge and fought back with heroic determination. The RAF was supplemented by pilots not just from the UK and the British Commonwealth but also from other countries including pilots from Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Despite the odds and air battles that exhausted the young pilots, the RAF emerged victorious, thwarting the Luftwaffe’s plans and giving the Allied forces a much-needed boost of confidence.

RAF pilots in World War II were some of the most courageous men of their generation. Faced with the daunting task of taking on the might of the German Luftwaffe, they fought valiantly for their country. Many of them were just boys when they signed up, barely out of their teens, but they had a sense of duty and patriotism that inspired those around them.

In the face of enormous odds, they rose to the challenge and helped to turn the tide of the war. RAF pilots will always be remembered as heroes of that conflict. They risked their lives for a cause they believed in, and they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

The battle also showed the world that Hitler could be beaten, proving that the Nazis were not invincible. The courage and skill of the RAF pilots helped to change the course of history, and their legacy will never be forgotten. Each year, we commemorate the events and the sacrifices made by so many young pilots during Battle of Britain Day on September 15th.

Headcorn Aerodrome

Headorn Aerodrome in Kent was an important site during World War II, serving as a base for squadrons of the US Air Force (USAAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). It was requisitioned for War use in 1942 and opened in 1943. It was originally named RAF Lashenden. Before the war, it had been a grass airstrip known as Shenley Farm.

After World War II the airfield was returned to agriculture. During the 1960s the current grass airstrip was created and today, it is a quiet country airfield, surrounded by farmland. It is a reminder of the sacrifice made by those who fought to defend this country against Nazi aggression. Headorn Aerodrome may be peaceful now, but it will always hold a special place in the history of Britain, lying as it does under the very airspace under which the Battle of Britain was fought.

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15 Things Only Air Show Fans Would Understand

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Every year, from spring to autumn, hundreds of thousands of air show fans trek to small airfields and major airports to watch flying displays. If you are one of them, here are some aspects of these events that you may recognise.

Arriving

You set off in good time only to be held up on the motorway, so you arrive late, join the queue for the car park, and eventually park about a mile from the main entrance. You walk across the grass, reminiscing about a misspent youth at the Glastonbury Festival, and join the queue at the entrance.  

As you get close to the gate you realise you’ve left the spare batteries for your camera in the car.

Static Aircraft

Once inside you can’t decide whether to study all the static aircraft on display or head straight for the crowd line.  You start walking around, past the static aircraft displays, conscientiously studying the plaques and trying to absorb the information.  You do this for three aircraft before abandoning the idea and taking photos of the information plates which you swear you’ll study at home.

You never do.

Photos

You take photos – hundreds of them.  You zoom in to take a close- up of the wheel struts on a warbird imagining the resulting photo is going to look arty and provoke hundreds of likes on Facebook and Instagram.  

It doesn’t.

The Program

You decide the airshow program is overpriced and you don’t want to carry it around all day so you forget the air display timings.  Consequently, while you’re queuing for a cup of coffee that costs as much as the program, you miss the aircraft you’ve been looking forward to for the past three months.

Lunch

By noon you’re famished having set off at 6 AM so you choose the food stall with the shortest queue.  Eventually it’s your turn to buy a lukewarm sausage in a dry baguette, sprinkled with half cooked chopped onions, served by a woman who coughs into her hand before picking up the baguette. You ask for a bottle of water and hand over a tenner.  

As you walk away with a 25p in change you swear you’ll buy the VIP package next year.

VIP Package

The following year you do treat yourself to the VIP package and pay three times the price for some equally lukewarm quiche and a bit of smoked salmon.

While you sit eating it, pausing to sip some unimpressive rosé , you realise you’re missing the vibe around the beer bus and the taste of chips.

The Stalls

Not wanting to miss anything you enter a marquee and start browsing around the stalls.  As you walk past the piles of books, the model aircraft, the pilot gear, and the bored-looking bloke on the stall selling timeshares in Florida, you hear the unmistakable sound of an F-16’s afterburner.

You resist the urge to push past the people in front of you as you head for the exit.

The Weather

The air show is in June in England, so of course the skies are grey and heavy showers pass through, but you forgot to check the forecast and trusted to luck, imagining that since you’ve gone to all the expense and effort of attending, the Sky Gods would smile down upon the event.  

You soon discover how inadequate your clothing is for a wet and windswept airfield in 14 degrees.

The Crowd Line

Eventually, some sun breaks through and at last you enjoy some aerial displays set against patches of blue sky.  You’ve managed to maneuver into a spot with a reasonably good view.

You’ve bought new batteries for your camera and you’re merrily clicking away when the bloke in front of you stands up and puts a child on his shoulders.

Aching Bones

Your shoulders are now stiff and your back aches, so you put your shoulders back and lean over backwards.  The woman next to you looks up to see what aircraft she thinks you’re looking at.

The Red Arrows

You’re at a small show and the Red Arrows have agreed to perform a single flypast en route to another event.  All day, the few aircraft managing to fly in the strong southerly winds have been arriving from the north. At the appointed time you’re ready and waiting, looking expectantly to the north for the Reds.  

They fly in from the south and before you can point your camera they’re a mile and a half away.

Tea Time

By 4pm you’re starting to feel a little weary, having walked 5 miles criss-crossing the site, and been on your feet all day since you haven’t seen one empty chair that didn’t have someone’s leg on it, guarding it against any thought that it might be free.  

There’s still more flying to come but you decide to make a break for it and beat the end of show rush.

Addicted

You’ve been walking past aircraft all day, vintage and modern, commercial and military, everything from Sopwith Camels, to Spitfires, to Eurofighter Typhoons, but your curiosity is still piqued when you see an RAF roundel peeping out from under the tarpaulin on a low-loader on the motorway as you head home.

Going Home

You leave when everyone else leaves and consequently you spend longer trying to get out of the car park than you did driving to the event.

There’s always next year for air show fans

That night your head hits the pillow and you fall asleep dreaming of Oshkosh.  You look in the mirror the following morning and with the sunburn and the dry skin from the constant breeze you look like you’ve aged five years.

Despite it all; the prices, the queues, the weather, you know damn well that you’ll do it all over again next year.

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5 Essential Tips for Enjoying Airshows

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A wide variety of vintages

Airshows are a great day out for individuals and families. They can be enjoyed by anyone from aviation enthusiasts to those who may not a first consider themselves interested in aircraft, but who enjoy the spectacle and the occasion.  With that in mind here are 5 essential tips for enjoying airshows that will help you to make the most of the day, whether it’s a big international show or a smaller event on a grass airfield.

Obviously the size of the airshow is a big factor that determines many things, not just the size of the queues for the loos.  So keep that in mind when planning your day out.

Parents who have experience of any kind of outdoor event involving their children will probably be familiar with most of what comes next, but check through anyway as there may be one or two things you haven’t considered.

Check the weather and check it again

Grey skies and drizzle 🙁

The airshow season in the UK is from spring to autumn, so there’s bound to be a wide variety of weather and some events can be cool to say the least.  Airfields tend to be wide open spaces exposed to the elements!

As the day approaches keep an eye on the weather and check it again on the morning you leave for the show.  Don’t rely just on the main TV news for this as the weather at the airfield may by very different from the regional forecast.  There are plenty of fairly accurate apps for this, like WeatherPro which comes with a free and a paid version.

Airshows are rarely cancelled due to adverse weather, but it would be shame to make the journey only to find that it had been called off and you neglected to check before leaving.

Clothing and footwear

Once you know what the temperature is likely to be you can choose appropriate clothing and footwear.  Your enjoyment of the show is going to diminish rapidly if you get cold waiting to watch pilots put on a display.

It’s highly likely that you’re going to be standing on grass, whatever the size of the airfield.  If there has been any recent rain you will notice the damp.  If you don’t plan on bringing any folding chairs then a thick picnic rug is a good alternative.

If there’s going to be any sun remember to bring the sun cream.  Every year thousands of people return from airshows with sun burnt faces and necks because they’ve spent several hours staring up a the sky and forgot to put on some protection.

Essentials: hat, sun cream, sun glasses, umbrella (for shade, as well as rain)

Food and drink

It is an unfortunate fact of life that the catering at outdoor events tends to be overpriced, but it is convenient and there’s usually a fairly good variety. The other disadvantage is that you have to queue for it, so sometimes it pays to get an early lunch and avoid peak times.

The obvious alternative is to bring your own, but that means you have to prepare it and carry it to wherever you intend to sit.  That might be quite a long way from the car park, so a rucksack or trolley might be the answer if you have a large party of adults and children.

The loos are better than they used to be, but they can still be unhygienic due to constant use.  Wash your hands thoroughly and consider bringing your own hand sanitizer or anti bacterial wet-wipes.

Travel and access

Again, forward planning is important if you are to reduce the stress levels and make the day go smoothly.  It may be tempting to pile everyone and everything into the family car and set off, but sometimes travelling light and going by public transport is the better option.

The Farnborough International Airshow (held once every two years) is one example where travelling by train might be better.  In 2016 there was a two hour wait for people trying to leave the main car park after the event on the Saturday.  Meanwhile, those who travelled by train simply boarded a free shuttle bus to the train station.

However, public transport will not always be an option and you’ll need to make your own way there.  If you end up parking in a large field, check your location before leaving the vehicle i.e. remember where you parked!  There’s nothing more annoying than trying to find the car when all you want to do is get in and get home.

Airshow Photography

Airshows provide great opportunities for both amateur and professional photographers.  No doubt you will see the serious amateurs and the professionals with their large lenses and tripods.

However, taking pictures at airshows is something everyone can have a go at and it can be easy to take some good shots for the album or to share on social media.

Your phone or tablet is probably best for taking still images of the static display of aircraft and varies other activities around the site.  Without a zoom lens you’re unlikely to get a good picture of aircraft in flight.

On the other hand you can film the displays on your camera and by so doing capture the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine or some other dramatic engine noise.

Biggest US Air Shows

Every year, millions of people flock to airshows across the country to see the latest and greatest in aviation technology. From small local shows to large international events, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the biggest airshows in the United States:

  • The National Championship Air Races have been held annually in Reno, Nevada since 1964. Featuring six racing classes, the event attracts competitors from all over the world. The Reno Air Races are also home to the world’s fastest landplane, the L-109 Lockheed Lodestar.
  • The EAA Oshkosh AirVenture is one of the largest aviation events in the world, attracting over 500,000 visitors each year. Held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the AirVenture features a wide variety of aircraft, interactive exhibits, and hands-on workshops.
  • The Abbotsford International Airshow is one of Canada’s largest airshows, drawing over 100,000 visitors each year. Located in British Columbia, the Abbotsford show features a wide variety of civilian and military aircraft.
  • The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is not technically an airshow, but it is one of the most popular events on the aviation calendar.

Biggest UK Air Shows

The RAF Cosford Air Show is one of the largest military airshows in the country and takes place at RAF Cosford in Shropshire.

The Royal International Air Tattoo, or RIAT, is held annually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and is one of the world’s largest military airshows.

The Farnborough International Airshow is a major trade show for the aerospace industry, held every two years at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire.

The Shoreham Airshow was one of the UK’s largest civil airshows and took place at Shoreham Airport in West Sussex but sadly it was cancelled idefinitely after the 2015 Hunter crash.

Finally, the Swansea Bay Airshow is a free event that takes place every summer in Swansea Bay, Wales.

Air Show Essentials

If you’re planning on attending an air show, there are a few things you should remember to bring.

  • First, make sure you have a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and the glare off the aircraft.
  • Second, remember to bring a hat or other headcovering to shield your head from the same sun and glare.
  • Third, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before you go – the last thing you want is to get sunburned while you’re watching the planes!
  • Finally, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks, as there will likely be long lines for food at the event.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that you have a fun and enjoyable experience at the air show.

Enjoying Airshows – Conclusion

Finally, a word about safety.  Crashes at airshows are extremely rare, but when they do happen the effects tend to be dramatic and consequently they make a lot of headlines.  Statistically speaking you’re probably safer at the show itself than you are on the journey to it.  The aviation authorities and the airshow organisers take every precaution they can to keep you safe, and crowds continue to flock to all sizes of shows throughout the year.

To find out more about airshows and to choose your next one search online for one of the many sites that list them each year, like Flightline UK.

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