Shepway Millenium Airshow, Folkestone

September 3rd 2000


On the Monday before the show it looked as though many people would have difficulty even attending this years show on The Leasin Folkestone due to the French Fisherman Dispute, however, by Wednesday things over the channel had calmed down so only the weather was the concern, they needn't of worried; Sunday was a dry day with sunny spells and an off-shore breeze - at least the dreaded sea-fog wouldn't ruin things again! There were two cancellations, first to go was the RAF Tucano T1, the fleet being grounded with a rudder fault. The second was the RN Sea Harrier FA2 grounded at Shoreham by FOD.

The Airshow is part of a large festival held on the Leas which also sees classic cars and special exhibitions, this year mostly related to the Battle of Britain. Offshore HMS Exeter had been moored throughout the weekend. The airshow on Sunday was broken into two halfs, an hour of fun flying in the morning, and a main show in the afternoon, broken by a two hour lunch break allowing the 100,000+ crowd to mill around the festival properly .

The morning started with Carolyn Grace and her Spitfire T9 ML407 and was quicky followed by the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers with their 2 Boeing Stearman and the One 2 One Pitts Special. Their displays were followed by perhaps one of the most exciting displays of a De Havilland Vampire T55 ever seen. The pilot used the venue to full advantage and on many passes popped below cliff level low over the sea. Rounding off the morning show was the Army Air Corps Blue Eagles and the RAF Harrier GR7.

De Havilland Vampire T55 and Biplane Bonanza

Clearly, the main focus of the displays was the 60th Anniversary salute of the Battle of Britain and most the displays revolved around that theme. However, there were plenty of others on show. Staying on the Historic theme there was a "Bonanza" of Biplanes with started the sequence with a massed flutter-by. Leading this, in one of their last displays were the 9 De Havilland Tiger Moths of the Diamond Nine, followed by Anna Walker in her Bucker Jungmann and the RNHF Blackburn Swordfish.

The RAF always makes a large contribution to Shepway, which some of the usual RAF displays and one very unique one by No 25 sqr. Other than the Harrier, the RAF supplied the solo Jaguar GR3 and Tornado F3 displays along with BBMF and of course the Red Arrows.

Turn and Burn!!! The RAF's Jaguar GR3 and Tornado F3

In 1993 the town of Folkestone adopted No 25(F) sqr as it's town squadron. The squadron for a long time was based at RAF Hawkinge, now home to the Battle of Britain Museum. Since 1995 the squadron has provided a salute at the show for the Town of Folkestone, usually with a team display of four Tornado F3s, and they returned this year with their Tornados.

No 25(F) sqr Tornado F3s

The mass of 56sqr and 25sqr Tornado F3s also got involved with perhaps some of the most memorable formations ever seen at UK airshows of recent times. First to go was the 56sqr salute. Before's it's display the solo 56sqr Tornado F3 linked up with TFC's Hawker Hurricane XII, the aircraft the squadron flew during the Battle of Britain. After the four ship display, a 25sqr aircraft linked up with the ARC's Bristol Blenheim, also the aircraft they flew during the Battle. Also in Formation were the BAC Canberra B2/6 and TFC's Hawker Hurricane, as seen at SeaWings 2000 in Southampton as a salute to Flt Lt Nicholson VC.

1940 - 2000, Now and Then formations at Shepway

Of course the finale was a massed Spitfire and Hurricane formation, mostly formed from Duxford based examples including TFC's MkV and MkXIV, Historic Flyings new Mk XVIII (SM485), Alain de Cadanet's MkXVI plus ARC's MkXVi, OFMC's MkIX and the Grace T9 joined by TFC's Hurricane

The Massed Formation and TFC's Mk XIV Spitfire

Historic Flying's Spitfire Mk XVIII

OFMC's Spitfire MkIX and TFC's Spitfire MkV

Once again, the Shepway show proved to be highly entertaining and produced several gems during the displays, and thankfully the weather held for the very large crowd, and of course it's free!!!!

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