Today I attended the Flying Legends Air Show at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. I attended with my father, my son, and my nephew; definitely a family day out for boys.
I was really looking forward to the show as it is not often you see several Spitfires, P-51 Mustangs, Me 109 and other World War Two era aircraft all flying at the same time and in significant numbers. In fact it was not just aircraft from the era, but other conflicts too. To hear 6 or more aircraft fly past with the famous Rolls-Royce engines sure sends a tingle down ones spine.
All was going well until a Fokker Tri-Plane was coming into land post its display. On its approach it must have bounced a little too much as a wing-tip caught the ground which resulted in the plane hitting the ground nose first. Luckily, the plane was at slow speed so it just ended nose first in the ground with its tail in the air. click HERE for pic
The display progressed and it was truly fantastic to see so many aircraft completing various manoeuvres. Who does not have a soft spot for the engine roar of a Spitfire, or see the Lancaster bomber fly past several time and see a very rare P-38 Lightning?
After a three hour display all the World War Two planes did a fly past. The first wave past, as did the second and third. It was when the final few flew passed to then climb and bank left for the final approach before landing.
During this manoeuvre a Skyraider and a P-51 Mustang collided in mid-air. A shower of bits of wing exploded everywhere in the sky. You could hear the crowd collectively hold their breath. Then, the Mustang started to dive towards the ground. At around 200 feet a shute was seen leaving the soon to crash Mustang. The plane and the bailed out pilot then disappeared behind a bank, so no one was sure the pilot had made it.
Eyes turned to the Skyraider who at first looked like it was about to suffer the same fate as the Mustang. Then, by luck, and sheer skill of the pilot he not only levelled out the plane, but landed it as well. Once it had landed you could see how much damage there was to the starboard wing. I would say only God and Lady Luck knows how the pilot managed to land that plane.
About 30 minutes after the crash the air show commentator told the crowd the bailed out pilot’s shute did deploy, and he landed safety. The crowd cheered and clapped on receipt of this news.
What is also amazing is the Mustang pilot knowing he was going down had to pop his canopy, release his harnesses and climb out of a plane that is heading to the ground which is also out of control. More impressively in less than a minute; as he had no luxury of an Ejection Seat
Below are a few photos of the landed Skyraider:
Lastly, if you can you should try and see the Flying Legends Air Show as I really think it is one of the best around (minus the crashes).