Shoreham Airshow 2011

After giving it a miss last year, three generations of Daly’s made a return to Shoreham Airshow yesterday. There was so much to see, I do apologise if I forget anything. We missed the first couple of displays stuck in traffic on the A27 – I believe it was a glider display.

The Consolidated Catalina is a real special aircraft that I was very pleased to see. A flying boat not dis-similar to the Short Sunderland, the Catalina played a vital role during the Second World War in reconnaisance, transport, and in all manner of maritime roles. It’s not an aircraft that you see too often.

There was a very minimal representation from the RAF this year – only training aircraft in the Hawk, the Tutor and the Tucano. I’m actually quite a fan of the Hawk, a nippy little jet. The RAF also provided one of their distinctive yellow Search and Rescue Sea Kings, which marked the 70th anniversary of RAF Search and Rescue by giving a demonstration of winching, from an RNLI RIB on a trailer on the runway.

I might be biased, but the Parachute Regiment Red Devils Parachute Display team are easily the best around. In fact, I’m not sure why other Regiments are allowed to waste time and money having parachute display teams. They always land on a sixpence.

The Great War display is always very interesting, evocative of the magnificent men in their flying machines. It’s incredible that these such basic airframes fly like they do. Something that occured to me is how similar the Sopwith Camel is to the Fairey Swordfish, which was present this year. The little ‘Stringbag’ was obsolete at the start of the war in 1939, but still managed to cripple the Bismarck in 1941.

My Grandad and myself were pondering which has a more evocative sound and sight – the B17 Flying Fortress or the Avro Lancaster, both of which displayed at Shoreham this year. We came to the conclusion that the Lancaster is like a solid, dependable truck, while the B17 is like a Humvee – big and bold, but with some bling too.

Some of the most interesting aircraft are some of the lesser known jets – the Hawker Hunter and the De Havilland Vampire are fantastic aircraft, and look and sound beautiful.

The centrepiece of every Shoreham airshow is the Battle of Britain style airfield scramble. We are quite fortunate to see this, where every year a couple of Messerschmitt’s blitz the aerodrome, before the Spitfires and Hurricanes get up and chase them off. It is great to see, with the pyrotechnics, and Dads Army firing on the sidelines, but when you go every year, I can’t help wonder if I’m the only person who knows exactly what is going to happen and when. But then again, if they didn’t do it, you would feel let down!

Shoreham always has plenty of aerobatic teams. The Yakovlevs, flying Russian WW2 vintage aircraft, the SWIP team, the Blades, and the Breitling wingwalkers (young ladies who have to be seen to be believed!).

After the Vulcan had to pull out at the last minute with fuel tank problems, the organisers obviously had to find something unique to close the show. Step forward Christian Moullec. This frenchman’s act really is unique. A conservationist, Moullec raises birds (Geese or Cranes) from hatching, and trains them to fly along with him, in his microlight. It is a fantastic spectacle.

It did feel like there wasn’t quite as much at this years show as there has been in the past. The Red Arrows have never been allowed to make a ful display at Shoreham, apparently due to aviation rules and the proximity of air routes out of Gatwick. It is sad that the British Armed Forces could not provide more display aircraft, but then again they are probably all busy in Afghanistan or Libya. It is a shame, because seeing a Typhoon or an Apache at an airshow could be the thing that recruits a pilot of the future.

It is wonderful that the Shoreham Airshow takes place every year, and raises money for the RAF Associations appeal. Remember, unlike many free airshows, Shoreham is a charity event raising for a good cause. It would be nice to see something different sometimes – about 75% of the prgramme is the same most years, which obviously if you go each year, is a bit repetitive. But then again, I’ve never organised an airshow, and it can’t be an easy thing to do, so hats off to the guys at Shoreham!

(whisper it quietly, but lets just say I believe there might be an airshow a lot closer to Portsmouth sometime soon… I can’t reveal my sources, but fingers crossed eh!)

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19 Comments

Filed under airshow, event, Royal Air Force, Vulcan Bomber, World War One, World War Two

19 responses to “Shoreham Airshow 2011

  1. John Erickson

    “Same old, same old” is an airshow curse. I really lost count of the number of times I died, while playing a German soldier, in front of the Allied armour launching its’ “counter-attack”. Such is a re-enactor’s life!
    It was the Stringbag’s very obsolescence that gave it its’ fame. I’m told that the fire control of the Bismarck’s AA guns had a built-in speed predictor (“lead” as we refer to it over here) that could not be set slow enough, so most of the AA fire exploded AHEAD of the Swordfish. Gotta love old tech!
    Wish we had a WW1 demo team over here – everything is WW2 and 1980s, for some bizarre reason. 1950s aircraft are few and far between, and early Vietnam-era craft don’t seem to exist.
    And yes, the Lanc was a “bomb truck”, much closer to our B-24 (and especially the B-52, albeit in more modern form). But I’ll take a Halifax any day – wish there were some flying….
    Sounds like you guys are going the way of the Canadians. “Why don’t you see more old vehicles and aircraft in Canadian museums” “Because they’re all still in use!” :D
    (I can say it, ’cause a Canuck told it to me. At the Canadian Signal Corps museum, no less!)
    So… pictures? ;)
    Glad you had a good time.

  2. x

    Sounds like you all had a good time. Now an airshow closer to Portsmouth, um……………………

    July’s Soldier magazine celebrated Apache reaching 100,000 flying hours in AAC service. But they didn’t win any fans by referring to a mystery airfield called RAF Middle Wallop….

    I note Pompey (and environs) have been on TV twice this week for reasons historical. That new BBC show on Wednesday(?) came live from Warrior which looked very good in HD. And this evening I saw the familiar shape of HMS Alliance. It is good news they have received a grant for restoration. Unlike poor Shieldhall who could be out of action permanently due to fatigue in her frames beneath the engine room. I am I know a pessimist but I can’t see them finding £500k. The funding of maritime heritage in the UK is too small and too skewed towards certain projects that aren’t truly representative of the scene or of true historic worth. Yes Cutty Sark I am looking at you! Shame. :(

    • John Erickson

      Well, maybe if you people would name your towns sensibly, people could find them! “Middle Wallop”? That’s the same, in American, as Centre Punch! :D

      • x

        One has watched enough Westerns to know that Americans should be the last to point and laugh at funny place names. ;)

      • James Daly

        There are some brilliant place names. Shipton Bellinger, Lower Upham, Langton Matravers, Westonzoyland… and my personal favourite, Ugley, in Cambridgeshire. Apparently it is pronounced Oogley, as the Ugley Women’s Institute insist…

        • John Erickson

          Naw, y’all gotta come over here and I’ll take you on my most favourite road trip. Non-stop from Intercourse, Pennsylvania to Climax, Michigan. (Not sure what this means, but there used to be a big automobile brake-pad manufacturer just off the highway in Michigan. “We put the brakes on in Climax”?)

    • James Daly

      I do think that we’ve got maritime preservation all wrong in this country. OK, Victory, Warrior and theMary Rose are gems. But Cutty Sark? Never seen the importance myself. And with all due respect to HMS Belfast, it should really have been Warspite moored on the Thames for perpetuity.

      Portsmouth really does need a 20th Century ship to bring it up to date – talk is that HMS Caroline will end up here sooner or later on the pontoon next to Warrior. HMS Plymouth is still knocking around, but I can’t see her ending up here.

      • x

        You’ve got me there. Warspite is my favourite battle wagon. But I wouldn’t be without Belfast.

        As for Mary Rose well my interest with her lies more with the longbows found within her more than anything of true naval interest. Now if Mary Rose was in comparable condition to the Vasa that would be a different matter entirely.

        As for HMS Plymouth such a shame; she is a great ship. I have “camped” aboard her twice with cadets. Was allowed into the generator room while they were running once. And I have even trained her Mk6 manually. (Would have loved to have got my cadets onboard Belfast for the weekend but that sadly never happened. :( ) The ideal spot Plymouth on the other side of the jetty from Warrior it would be wasted on Caroline.

        That isn’t to say I don’t find Caroline interesting or not worthy of saving. Far from it. I just think she is better of in Belfast. Where with some entrepreneurial spirit she could become an attraction and an asset to the city. Now I know one or two compartments are preserved; I think the aft steering flat for one. But compared to HMS Plymouth she would require too much work. Plymouth just needs some TLC; though the longer she is left the more her fabric not just her cosmetic state deteriorates. She was shabby but redeemable when I last saw her in about 2005.

        That corner of the Historic Dockyard does need some work. I think many of the public seem to miss Warrior on the stampede(!) to visit Victory. When we down there for Festival of the Sea the queues for Victory were endless yet Warrior was virtually empty. A think Plymouth would bring that extra something. It is a shame something can’t be done about what I call the corrugated steel shed and the mess that is the mast pond.

        • James Daly

          I’ve always been a fan of the Warrior. It is the Dockyard’s ‘secret weapon’, as it were. And I agree, what is really interesting about Mary Rose is the time capsule aspect – the longbows, clothes, food, all of the personal effects. David Starkey – ahem – called it ‘Britain’s Pompei’, and he’s not far wrong in my opinion.

          Personally, I would have preferred one of the ‘Portsmouth’ ’82 ships to be preserved in Pompey. I know they were in a terrible state by the time they were scrapped, but Fearless and Intrepid would have made interesting displays – you could have done a lot with the space in the vehicle deck and dock, and the flight deck. Or a County Class, now they were ships… But back to the subject, our record at preserving modern warships is pitiful. In museum terms, you should be collecting all the time with an eye on what will be relevant for generations to come, and the 20th century Navy is badly underrepresented in terms of preservation. Particularly at Portsmouth.

          The mast pond is looking a bit better nowadays, they’ve got some historic launches and landing craft in there. And I believe there are plans for the corrugated metal shed. I applied for a job with the trust that manages the buildings in the yard, and as part of my pre-application research I found that that is next on their ‘to-do’ list. Didn’t even get an interview, mind..,.

          • x

            Wasn’t there a County used for Cadet Acquaint back before Bristol?

            The corrugated metal shed site is crying out for a signature building. One wonders why that site wasn’t chosen for the new Mary Rose building so it could link straight into the RN museum? The site is too small for the FAA collection and the submarine museum is tied to Alliance. Explosion! seems well established. The Sea Cadets have no money but it would be a good location for a national school seeing as they have shut some regional centres. As much as I love Bristol and the history of HMS Excellent in some ways it is a poor facility.

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