Folkestone & Lydd Airshow 2001

The Leas, Folkestone - 2nd September

A very Kentish affair....

The Last of our seaside visits for this season was the Folkestone and Lydd airshow held on top of the 200ft high Leas in Folkestone. Organised by members of the The Fighter Collection and the Shepway District council, this show is in it's 12th year. Originally setup for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain the show sees strong support from the RAF and the Duxford based warbirds. This show this year had no official overall theme, however, there was a distictly naval theme to many aircraft taking part as well as the 50th Anniversary of the Hawker Hunter and some brilliant aerobatics

Naval Flyers and Warbirds

Spearheading this theme were TFC's cats, the Grumman FM2 Wildcat, Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Grumman F8F Bearcat. The three cats produced a very pleasing display with the Hellcat and the Wildcat performing as a pair while the Bearcat went solo. The sound of these three radial fighters is incredible, the Wildcat seems to chug his way round while the later cats produce much more of a growl. The aircraft didn't perfom aerobactics during their display because of the low cloud base but were displayed well for any photographers, particularly at the western end of the display line towards Lydd.

Representing the Fleet Air Arm's campaigns were the Fairey Swordfish, Goodyear FG-1D Corsair and the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger. The Swordfish has a long association with this area as they were based at RAF Manston were many of the modern types were based for the show. During the early half of the war, Swordfish were scrambled to intercept the battlecruiser Prince Eugen which was trying to break through the Dover straights. The Corsair and the Avenger performed a gentle and very distant routine of gentle turns. This lead to the Corsair go round almost unnoticed because it is much smaller than the Avenger. It also was unable to show it's true potential while formating with the almost lumbering Avenger. Sadly missing from the flying was the RNHF's Hawker Sea Fury which had gone unservicable in the run up to the show.

Opening the show was Carolyn Grace and her Supermarine Spitfire T9. In less than ideal conditions she perform a very smooth display for the crowds reminding many people of the time when the Merlin noise bucked up the spirits over war-torn Kent.

More nostagia came from Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Sally-B now happily with more money thanks to support from Flypast Magazine. Hopefully, problems from the engines seem to be over come and she can now perform at many shows around the country as a memorial to the American air crews of the daylight bombing missions of the second world war.

Bad weather at Biggin Hill prevented the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight getting airbourne for their display. Their display was deeply missed by many on the ground, but we can't do anything about the good old British summer.

Awesome Aerobatics

Low cloud prevented many of the aircraft performing aerobactic sequences for much of the morning. First to display his prowess of the sky was a solo Yakovlev Yak-52 from Aero Antics (Yes...your letters are just right sir if your reading!!!) More Yaks, this time four Yakovlev Yak-50s came from the Yakovlevs �team which is looking great now with their silver and red schemes. If you had to choose the best displays of the day you would however be hard pressed to separate these next three acts. First Pete Kynsey in the Bucker Jungmann he co-owns with Anna Walker in a fiery display of the aerobactic art. We think he manage at least 8 flick rolls along the sea front, though we did lose count! The Sukhoi Duo of a Sukhoi Su-31 and Su-29 were absolutely breath taking with a display that looked like their were fixing together. The number remained underneath his leader throughout the show, how they didn't touch I don't know. Then there was the Apache Duo of Pilatus PC-7s. Another example of very close flying though without so much of the brute force of the Sukhois and with a little more grace.

Military Might and Jets

Of course, being a coastal show Folkestone attracts strong support from the RAF. Headlining the RAF were of course the ever popular Red Arrows. Alongside them were the solo Panavia Tornado F3, BAE Systems Harrier GR7 (single fly-by), Hawk T1s (No 208sqr solo and a flypast by two 100sqr aircraft) and the SEPECAT Jaguar GR3. Making a surprise appearance was a Danish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon which made a very very short display on his way down to Shoreham. Many people felt a little annoyed at the shortness but he was only supposed to make a single fly by. However, a very welcome addition to the flying.

On the ground there was a small display of equipment which had made the short hop from Portsmouth the week before inluding a plastic Hawk T1 and a Jaguar nose section as well as missile systems and Interactive exhibitions.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Hawker Hunter was Jonathon Whaley's Hawker Hunter F58 Miss Demeanour making a colourful appearance against the murk. Unfortunatly, the planned Hunter four ship got scrubbed by weather making emergency diversions difficult if they were required.

Odds and Ends

The Utterly Butterly Barnstormers made their usual visit to Folkestone with Vic Norman and Mike Dentith bringing back the spirit of 1920's style flying.

Arriving during the lunch break was the Kent Air Ambulence's Boeing MD900NOTAR Explorer. This service is highly appreciated by the people of Kent but is entirely funded by donations and clearly publicity like this is always needed. The pilot produced a short but pleasing display along the cliffs including pedal turns and rotations.

The Salutes

This show is famous for it's salutes. The main shepway salute was perhaps a little low in numbers this year, but was still very good. Arriving in an Arrow head formation were the Bearcat, Hellcat, Wildcat, Corsair and Spitfire. After they had made two passes they split into an exciting tailchase around the now clearing sky.

However, perhaps the most unique salute comes from Folkestone's adopted squadron - No 25(F) Squadron based at RAF Leeming with the Panavia Tornado F3. "Savage Formation" arrived as a perfect diamond four formation before making further passes in finger four formation and finally spliting into a three ship and a solo. The threeship performed a battle break along the crowd line while the solo made a very loud fast pass very near to Mach 1. This routine is seen no where else on the UK circuit and Folkestone is justifiably pround to be associated with what was once a local squadron based at RAF Hawkinge.

-oOo-

Another good display, but maybe not as good as last's years amazing Battle of Britain show. The weather didn't help but there was a noticable lack of warbirds in comparison with previous shows.

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