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Flying Legends Airshow 2008 - Picture intensive thread!

Jessie The Jeep

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I had a busy weekend at the flying Legends airshow this weekend with long days both Saturday and Sunday. I've already posted some pictures from Old Warden at 7:15 on Saturday morning when I was there with a friend while three of the Shuttleworth aircraft were brought out of the hangars to head over to Duxford for the show. Then on Sunday, I was at Duxford not long after 7am to get these planes out of the hangar where they spent the night.


I got myself a spot at the far right of the airfield near the 'Tank Bank', looking virtually straight down the grass runway. Previously I've been at the other end and got landing shots, but with the wind in the usual direction, I was in a good position for take off pics.


There were some disappointments over the weekend, some nice surprises, and a scary moment that is only going to cost the owner a large sum of money. Over the weekend I took around 1700 photos, which I've narrowed down a vast amount, but still have a straight 100 pictures to cover the event. I'll start posting them a few at a time.


I've selected a few pictures of each aircraft/formation which are just posted in alphabetical order, starting off with the Douglas A-26 Invader, an aircraft that could out run or out turn a Bf109, and was flown in the display like a fighter.






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Yes, the scary moment..........


P-51 'Miss Helen' had I believe a fuel problem on Saturday, so the crew worked that evening to sort it for Sunday. On Sunday before the show, the P-51 went for an air test and all seemed well, so it was able to fly during the display. The display went by ok also until the aircraft took to the air once more for the finale, the grand fly past.


The following account is from several peoples observations, but the accident investigation will clarify what actually happened.


At the end, the engine was running rough, particularly on final approach, and I've seen a picture on another forum where it is trailing white smoke. He seemed to be loosing power and the rate of decent was steeper than normal, hitting the grass runway hard right at its start where there is a slight hump. This launched the P-51 back into the air near stalling speed. The link below is to another forum where there is a picture of the impact.




As it lifted again, most pilots would have applied power, but the huge torque from the engine/prop would have flicked the aircraft over with a smoking hole the likely result. Instead the pilot tried to control the situation with the little speed he had and the aircraft hit hard, bending the left landing gear oleo and chipping the prop into the runway, eventually skidding to a stop at 90 degrees to the runway. The following pictures show the unfortunate 'Miss Helen' before and while stuck on the runway ( a picture I took from a mile away at the other end of the airfield ).





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I was at the M11 end of the airfield and watched this incident unfold just a few hundred yards away from where I was standing.


In my estimation, the P-51 appeared to make a normal approach - certainly didn't see any plume of white smoke from my view point. It was being piloted by RAF fast jet pilot Pete John, although the aircraft is owned by Robs Lamplough from East Garsdon, near Hungerford - He also owns a Spitfire too. Sadly this P-51 has become a bit of a bad-luck aircraft. On the return from the IAT at Fairford in 2006? the engine stopped in flight and Robs had to make a dead-stick approach into a field adjoining his airstrip at East Garsdon. He dodged the bullet and with a wheels-up landing, spared his life, but Miss Helen was not so lucky. Maurice Hammond worked on a lot of the damaged components and the aircraft returned to the skies again recently.


On Sunday evening the P-51 certainly landed heavy, but as stated earlier appeared to hit a hump in the ground which literally launched the aircraft back into the air like a V1 (She was making an approach onto the grass runway not the hard) - It was at this point that I realised something was very wrong. I'm sure some damage must have occured at this initial impact. The aircraft then with little airspeed returned to the ground for its second heavy impact, tail high with the prop striking the ground numerous times, but luckly it did not flip over. It stopped at a 90 degree angle to the runway with the l/h undercarriage leg in a sorry state and the P-51 Old Crow that was on finals behind her, was given the go-around from the tower. She gunned her engine, cleaned-up the undercarriage and re-joined the flight pattern, landing safely on the hard runway minutes later.


I spoke to Maurice Hammond on my mobile shortly afterwards. He informed me that Pete John (the pilot) had spoken to him that morning regarding the mechanical fault on Saturday and advised him that the air test performed on Sunday morning had gone routinely, although I did notice the engine appeared to be sounding a little rough when it flew over the airfield. A reference was made to how many hours the pilot had (on type) in recent years? Tornado's and Harriers are very different machines..............Having said that, it is simply too early to drawn any conclusions.


Fortunatley, the pilot did not suffer any injury and the public's safety was not compromised. I took the pictures below earlier in the show on Sunday.







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The star of the show was arguably B-17G 'Liberty Belle', which had flown over from the USA, arriving at Duxford on July 4th. While here, Don Brooks took the aircraft over Framlingham ( Parham ), home to the 390th BG where his father was a tail gunner on the original 'Liberty Belle'.


It was hoped that 'Liberty Belle', together with B-17 'Pink Lady' from France would make a three ship formation with the UK's B-17 'Sally B'. Unfortunately two engine failures this year has grounded that B-17 until a replacement can be fitted ( I'd like to say long story, but the version I heard wasn't long, and I'd rather not say publically what I've been told about it as it isn't confirmed ). What ever happened, it was really unfortunate timing, and it is unlikely that we will ever see a three B-17 formation again in Europe.


Here are the three B-17's on the flight line ( actually there were four on the airfield as there was also B-17G 'Mary Alice' in the American Air Museum ). 'Sally B' can be seen with the port outer engine missing.




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In the past when 'Sally B' and 'Pink Lady' have displayed together, it has never really been together, each flying its own displaywithin the same airspace. At Legends this year, 'Liberty Belle' and 'Pink Lady' both stayed in a trailing formation with two P-51's escorting.


The pics show the two Forts starting up and 'Liberty Belle' taking off.





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The medium bombers were represented by the A-26 Invader as already seen, and a NA B-25 Mitchell. Both put on great displays, with the A-26 running the length of the flight line over the grass runway low and fast with high wingovers at each end, while the B-25 displayed over the main runway with a tighter turning display. A couple of passes were made together before the broke off for their individual displays.





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Two medium size aircraft which didn't display, but are still equally impressive at the Beaufighter and Blenheim rebuilds. The Fighter Collection Beaufighter has been under rebuild for many years, but is moving along fairly fast now having been bought by an Australian. It recently had the fin and tailplane fitted and is on its own wheels for the first time in many years.


The Blenheim IV is a rebuild following a crash landing in 2003. The aircraft hasn't been lucky so far. The original rebuild took around 12 years, and it was severely damaged in a 'touch and go' through pilot error, a month after its maiden flight in 1988. The aircraft was rebuilt again and flew after about 5 years if my memory is holding out. Then in 2003, the aircraft ran out of fuel on final approach and was severely damaged again. AAIB Crash Report. This time the Blenheim is being rebuilt as a short nosed Mk1 aircraft, and the Blenheim can be seen with the nose temporarily fitted while internal fittings/controls are manufactured.




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The slowest aircraft of the show was an original Bleriot monoplane, trucked over from France for the show. It flew in marginal conditions on Saturday, only just making headway against the wind, but the calm weather on Sunday was perfect for it. Next year the owner plans to fly it across the channel.


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Moving away from Hawker aircraft, but remaining in the between the war years, there were two Gloster Gladiators. One belongs to the Shuttleworth Collection ( bue/yellow fuselage stripe ), while the other belonging to the Fighter Collection ( blue/red fuselage stripe ), has only just been completed following a long restoration. It only made its maiden flight a couple of days before the show, and so was unable to display, but it did make a second test flight at Sunday lunchtime over the airfield where it could be seen.





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