Now in its fourth year, the Airshow at East Kirkby continues to grow both in stature and quality. With superb weather – clear blue skies, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze – approximately 2600 people passed through the gates to enjoy an afternoon of the best flying seen at this Lincolnshire airfield to date.
Aircraft were abundant, with some 32 visitors flying-in and around another twenty taking part in the airshow, held in joint aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the further restoration of Lancaster NX611 Just Jane. Amongst the visiting aircraft parked on the eastern end of the flight-line were familiar examples of modern general aviation, such as Cessna and Piper, but parked alongside were historic gems such as Auster AOP.9 XR267 (G-BJXR), a 1936 de Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth G-ADMT and G-ITAF, a retired SF-260AM trainer from the Italian Air Force.
Highlights of the flying display included Peter Holloway's impressive Fieseler Fi-156 Storch (Stork) G-STCH, a German WWII liaison aircraft. With its very low airspeed, the Storch slide-slipped along the display line and turned very tight circles before demonstrating its very short take-off and landing run. A first time visitor to East Kirkby, hopefully this lovely aircraft can be tempted back again.
Another first time warbird visitor was G-ETME, a Bf108 Taifun, and another example of a German liaison/trainer aircraft; this example dates back to 1945, and is painted to represent the type’s more pugnacious partner, the Bf109. Suitably for Battle of Britain Day, two Spitfires displayed; Mk.XIX PS915 from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Mk.XVI TD248 (G-OXVI).
Hardwick Warbirds are great supporters of the RAFBF Airshow. This year they attended with four aircraft - their P-51 Mustang pair Marinell & Janie were joined by the collection’s Harvard and Stearman. The P-51 display is a simply brilliant demonstration of warbird flying and of the P-51 Mustang; in fact both aircraft demonstrated the unmistakable whistle that emanates from the Packard Merlin engine at high speeds.
A slightly more modern warbird, at “only” 55 years of age was G-PDOG, a Cessna O-1E Bird Dog; one of only two operating in the UK, the South Vietnamese Air Force schemed aircraft looks immaculate inside and out, a real credit to its owner.
Proving that the RAFBF presents the best of airshow flying, other display acts included wing walking care of AeroSuperbatics. With a young lady strapped to the top wing of the biplane Stearman, the aircraft performed loops, rolls, stall turns and even inverted flight! Even after all of this, the wing walker then releases her straps and climbs down into one of the cockpits prior to landing!
Other aerobatics included a dazzling display by G-GKKI, a CAP-231EX, and G-EDGJ, an Edge 360 flown by David Jenkins and thrown around the sky in possibly the most thrilling and dynamic aerobatic display yet seen at East Kirkby. The Trig Aerobatic Display team also displayed with their colourful Pitts S-1D duo. The display consisted of a variety of loops, stall turns and barrel rolls all presented with plenty of smoke! Slowing the pace down, but no less entertaining, was the autogyro display, flown by G-HTBT, a Rotorsport Calidus.
Rounding up the display acts, John Sully displayed his diminutive bright red Taylor T.2 Titch and the Chipmunk, Thruxton Jackaroo, Tiger Moths and Piel Emeraude of the Dennis Neville's Flying Circus provided plenty of barnstorming style entertainment. The unmistakeable shape of the Attitude Inc Yak 52, G-BXJB, flown by Nigel Willson was another crowd pleasing display act.
With plenty of activities, classic cars and military vehicles to be found within easy reach around the museum site, and a great mix of display aircraft, the airshow is a highly recommended family day out - easy parking and access, marshalled by Dave Noble and his team always ensure a smooth entry and exit. The team organising the airshow are to be congratulated for putting together such an entertaining and interesting event - Andrew Panton, Louise Bush and show director Mike Wood. The 2013 event is currently penciled in for a date in August, but at time of writing this is still subject to confirmation.
RAFBF Airshow ~ Gallery 1
RAFBF Airshow ~ Gallery 2