A weekend or two back, I went with a pal to see those magnificent men (and women) in their flying machines at Duxford Air Show.
A little way back, you may recall I went to see Rougham air show and got completely hooked. I especially love war birds (as they are called) from the first and second world war, as well as those planes such as the Extra 300 whose clever pilots can make them sort of wiggle around in the sky. I’m not quite so sure why I love the war birds so, is it the Rolls Royce Merlin engines that make them growl so majestically? Is it the fact that Lancasters in particular look so heavy they shouldn’t be able to fly at all? Is it that everyone, men and women, were so brave back then? I don’t know, but I do know I feel a thrill down my spine seeing these planes in the air.
And air shows are fab! The commentator will be a bloke wandering around speaking into a mike, cracking jokes only the most hardened visitor will get. You are bound to be in a large queue for a cup of tea / for the ladies just when you hear a plane take off. Families spread out on picnic blankets, dogs lay with their noses by the sandwiches, men will be holding things that look like megaphones but are actually triple zoom mega cameras, and re-enactment societies will be roaming around in full uniform. Cagoules will be pulled out of the smallest pockets when the weather looks rainy, but no one will ever think of going for shelter. Children will hold inflatable spitfires. Old ‘uns will be in deckchairs near the front, with a few veterans wearing gleaming medals. If you are into it, then it is a great day out.
A quick mention for the pilot who died when his Hurricane plane crashed at the recent Shoreham air show, according to witnesses he seemed to steer away from the crowd when he realised there was a problem. He was flying as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, and in my opinion is every bit as heroic as the men whose memory he helped keep alive.
My Duxford air show photographs on Flickr