Flying Legends 2012
Crazy Horse Aviation Photography

Flying Legends (June 30th & July 1st, 2012)

Okay, here we go again! Flying Legends 2012 and a lot of people are complaining once again about Legends not being what it used to be and the participation list not living up to certain people's expectations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please remember that all of these warbirds are all old retired ladies who require a lot of care and are not easy to fly and maintain. Also, the ever increasing maintenance and insurance costs in current times of financial crisis are another huge factor to be taken into concern. How the people find the necessary funds to keep B-17 Sally B going for instance is extremely remarkable, time and time again.

And yes, after last year's mid-air collision between the Skyraider and the Mustang, you couldn't blame the show organizers to be a little more cautious this year, hence a few more “gaps” in between some displays.

And yes, aircraft taking off and landing and displaying all at the same time is a spectacular sight, but it also adds to the risk factor of the show, so maybe doing things just a little bit more cautious isn't such a bad thing. After all, you don't see all of those beauties flying every day, now do you?

Yes, there were no Hurricanes, “only” three Mustangs, the S-38 did only make a couple of straight passes and the Skyraider, the TFC Fury, the 4th scheduled P-51, a DC-3 and a B-25 all went tech on the organizers, but that happens. On the other hand: we got to see a P-47C fly once again over the skies in Europe, three (3!) Mk.I Spitfires flying together (for the first time since WW2) and the only airworthy P-38 and S-38 in Europe.

I think a lot of people are losing the spirit and big idea behind it all.

Imagine going back 70 plus years, you're in your early twenties... You're strapping yourself into the cockpit of a Spitfire, Mustang, B-17 or Lancaster, preparing yourself for an 8-hour mission above enemy territory. You're up there and you feel all alone, and scared, and excited.

All of a sudden all hell breaks loose. Enemy fighters everywhere, trying to shoot you down. There's a barrage of dense flak everywhere. A bomber that was flying next to you suddenly disappeared … another 10 people dead. You're trying your best to shake that German ace off your tail and when it's all over and if you were lucky, you made it back (in case of bombers often shot up very badly) and you were able to fight another day.

But this is 2012 legends, and you hear people complaining about why the other dozen airworthy Mustangs aren't here today, why the newly restored P-47 is not being displayed in a more spectacular manner, why you paid so much money for your ticket…

Maybe we're all getting a bit spoiled, always expecting this years edition to be better than last years, always wanting things to get more spectacular, … but in all honesty, we're all very lucky to be able to see so many flying relics in the skies at one show, once a year. Perhaps in the near future, we won't be getting so lucky anymore (increasing costs, man power and available resources) …

So, let's put a halt to all the moaning and nagging about what could all be improved and let's enjoy what we still have today! A big up once again to everyone involved and to Mr. Stephen Grey for bringing us another warbird filled and exciting Flying Legends airshow!

Weather was traditionally British during the Legends weekend, with a scattered shower here and there (thankfully not during the actual displays), some sunny intervals and a relatively strong wind, which the pilots had to take into consideration.

The Duxford airfield came alive with the sounds of several Rolls Royce Merlin engines as the start of the show neared at about 1.40 PM.

The show started with a special tribute to warbird pilot Howard Pardue, who was killed in the US recently whilst flying his Grumman Bearcat. Mr. Pardue was a regular visitor to Flying Legends and often flew either TFC's Grumman Hellcat or Wildcat in the Grumman Cats act.

To honor the pilot, an extremely rare sight of three Supermarine Spitfire Mark I aircraft, flew a vic-three formation pass after which Stephen Grey pulled the nose of AR213 up into a missing man formation.

The three Mk. I Spitfires were Mk. Ia AR213, flown by Mr. Legends himself, Stephen Grey, Mk. I P9374 flown by John Romain and Mk. I X4650 flown by Steve Hinton.

AR213 was the world's only airworthy Mark I Spitfire since its restoration in 2008. It was delivered to the RAF in February of 1941, but never saw any combat action. Instead, she was assigned to No. 57 Operational Training Unit at Hawarden and later No. 53 OTU.

The aircraft was struck off charge in August of 1944 and was acquired by Air Cdre Allen Wheeler (one of the Shuttleworth Collection's pilots) for only £10! Allen Wheeler also bought Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 at that time, which is now one of the BBMF Spitfires.

The Spitfire was registered G-AIST and remained in storage at Old Warden until 1963. It also played a part in the 1968 Battle of Britain movie. It wasn't until it came in the hands of Jonathon Whaley that the airframe was fully restored to airworthy stock condition and repainted in the colors it wore in WW2. The Spitfire is now registered to Spitfire the One Ltd, based at Duxford.

Second Mark I, P9374, owned by Mark One Partners, is currently the oldest flying Spitfire in the world. It was built at the Supermarine factory in Southampton on February 23rd , 1940, and was the 557th Spitfire built.

It was delivered to No. 92 Squadron at Tangmere, Sussex. She scored her first and only kill of the War on May 23rd , during the Battle of France. Flown by future ace Desmond Williams, she downed a Bf-110 near Boulogne. The next morning, regular assigned pilot Peter Cazenove was flying a patrol mission near Calais and Dunkirk when he was engaged by German aircraft and was downed. Cazenove made a wheels-up landing on a deserted piece of beach near Calais. There the fighter remained, covered underneath the sand by the sands of time (sorry, couldn't resist), it wasn't until a heavy storm revealed the wreckage in September of 1980, that the airframe was recovered by a Frenchman by the name of Jean Louf.

Eventually acquired by Historic Flight in 2007, a complete rebuild was started. It is repaired to full authentication, including early Spitfire fabric-covered ailerons, early type three-blade propeller, correct radio equipment, 0.303-inch Browning machine guns and 1940-vintage ammunition. She's repainted in an early type color scheme and markings, including the half black, half white underside.

The first post restoration flight was made by John Romain on September 1st , 2011.

The third Mark I present at Legends, is the latest restored example, Mark Ia X4650, owned by Rom and Dan Friedkin. The Spitfire was built at Supermarine's Woolston plant in Southampton and flew for the first time on October 23rd , 1940. It was transferred to the RAF 2 days later and joined the No. 24 Squadron and the next month No. 54 Squadron.

She was lost on December 28th of that very same year during a practice dogfight in which she collided with another Spitfire. After the pilot bailed out, the aircraft made a controlled belly-landing all by itself near the bank of the river Leven. Deemed no long salvageable, she was pushed into the river. During the long hot summer of 1976, the water level of the river dropped far enough for the wreckage of the Spitfire to become visible and she was subsequently salvaged by local enthousiasts.

Tom and Dan Friedkin added the aircraft to their inventory in 2008. The aircraft was restored and flew again for the first time on March 9th , 2012.

The Red Bull Lockheed P-38L Lightning made its first appearance at Legends last year and was back again in 2012. The chrome finish on the Red Bull Lightning is disliked by many people, but nevertheless, it still is a P-38 Lightning, the only one flying in Europe. She was displayed by Red Bull chief pilot Raimund Riedmann. Unlike last year, she performed a full aerobatic routine with lots of loops, half Cubans and barrel rolls.

Now it was time for the first tail chase in the form of two Griffons and seven Rolls Royce Merlins, five of those Merlins belonging to Supermarine Spitfires and two to Hispano HA-1112 Búchons.

They first made a low-level formation flypast before splitting up into separate sections.

The five Merlin powered Spitfires, Mk. I P9374 flown by John Romain, TFC's Mk. Vb EP120 piloted by Nick Grey, Maxi Gainza in the Max Alpha Aviation Mk. VII MV154 (weird seeing a Spitfire bearing a German registration), Dave Radcliffe in Richard Lake's Mk. VXIE and Steve Jones in the Old Flying Machine Company's Mk. IX, engaging in the tailchase whilst Griffon powered TFC's Mk. XIVe MV293 and Christophe Jacquard's Mk. XIX, flown by Carl Schofield and Bernard Charbonnel, beat up the airfield with a couple of fast passes.

After the tail chase, TFC's Mk. V Spitfire tangled with both Búchons, owned by Richard Lake and ARCo and flown by Charlie Brown and Cliff Spink, for a mock-dogfight. The RAF won the battle on Saturday and the Luftwaffe on Sunday.

Next up was US Naval airpower with the TFC Grumman Bearcat and a more than welcome return of TFC's gull-winged Goodyear Corsair FG-1D. Both aircraft flying a paired routine first, before splitting up for some solo work. The Grumman Bearcat was flow by Pete Kynsey whilst the Corsair was piloted by Brian Smith.

The TFC Corsair was finally back where she belongs following several years of aching paperwork. There are about 35 Corsairs restored to airworthy condition in the world, but the majority of these are located in the US, only a handful are based in Europe. TFC's FG-1D, BuNo 88297, is painted as the post-WW2 Fleet Air Arm KD345, 1850th Naval Air Squadron stationed aboard HMS Vengeance, which was then part of the British Pacific Fleet.

This Corsair was acquired by The Fighter Collection back in early 1986. After an exhaustive 3-year rebuild, she can finally be admired once again.

Now was the time for the Legends 2012 star aircraft to take to the skies: the newly restored and unique Republic P-47G-10-CU Thunderbolt. What makes it so unique is that first of all, since the departure of P-47D-40-RA “No Guts No Glory” to its new owner Claire Aviation in the US in 2002, it's the only airworthy and flying Thunderbolt over European skies once more. Secondly, it's one of only 2 airworthy “razorback” Thunderbolts flying in the world today (the other belonging to the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California).

It's a bit complicated, but essentially P-47D and P-47G models were exactly the same as the P-47C models, the only difference in its designation being the location at which they were built: P-47Cs were built at Farmingdale, Long Island, but as that plant could not keep up with the demand in production, a new plant was built at Evansville, Indiana. The Thunderbolts produced there were designated P-47D (110 examples built), which was identical to the P-47C-2.

They were further identified by the “-RE” suffix after the block number for Farmingdale built examples and “-RA” suffix for Evansville examples.

Even with two Republic plants manufacturing the P-47, the USAAF was still not getting as many Thunderbolts as they asked, so an arrangement was made with Curtiss to build the Thunderbolt under license in another plant at Buffalo, New York. Curtiss produced 354 Thunderbolts, which were all designated P-47Gs to indicate that they were Curtiss built examples under license. Additionally, a “-CU” suffix was also added to further distinguish them from other production lines. Essentially, the P-47G was identical to the P-47C, the P-47G-1 identical to the P-47C-1, etc.

The use of bubble-top canopies was not introduced on the P-47 Thunderbolt until the block -25 P-47Ds.

The Fighter Collection's P-47G was thus, as can be derived from the above history lesson, manufactured by Curtiss at Buffalo in 1943. It was the 129th P-47G to roll from the production line and was accepted by the USAAF on September 17th , 1943. It was transferred to the 3rd Air Force at Tallahassee, Florida, where she was re-designated TP-47G, and used as a trainer (Advanced Fighter Transition Unit). Although she wore the TP-prefix (Trainer-Pursuit), there was never a second seat installed in the aircraft, despite this being the norm with T-prefixed aircraft.

Her post war career varied from duty as a student learning platform with the Aero Industries Technical Institute at Oakland Airport, California, through several civilian owners, until she came in the hands of Ray Stutsman in 1979, whom had also restored P-51D Double Trouble. Ray restored the aircraft which made its first post-restoration flight in April of 1982. It was also awarded the prestigious Grand Champion Warbird trophy at EAA Oshkosh that very same year.

Stutsman sold the Thunderbolt in 1987 and she was rarely flown the next couple of decades, until she was finally acquired by The Fighter Collection in 2006. She was given the IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Necessary) after which several problems arose, leading to the decision of a full restoration of the aircraft.

A grasp of the restorations actions:

  • The jump seat (installed during the restoration of Ray) was removed, restoring the turtledeck to stock single-seat configuration. This was carried out by Cal Aero Fabricators at Chino, California
  • Wing assemblies were rebuilt by Precision Aerospace Productions at Wangaratta, Victoria
  • All internal components and fittings were checked and repaired/replaced where necessary
  • The original 4-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller and Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine were restored by Coventry Flying Services.

The aircraft was put back together in time for the 2011 edition of Flying Legends, and was sprayed in the colors of 42-74742, a WW2 78th Fighter Group, 84th Fighter Squadron, Duxford based Thunderbolt flow by Lt. Julius P. Maxwell. The personal mount of Maxwell was named “War Eagle” and he used it in the destruction of a Me-109 and FW-190 during his 133-mission tour. The P-47 was next taken over by Lt. Severino B. Calderon, who added the word “Snafu”.

Original P-47 War Eagle 01
Original P-47 War Eagle 02
Original P-47 War Eagle 03

She was far from being in airworthy condition yet however. During the last year, more restoration work was carried out:

  • Various system function tests were carried out
  • The main oil tank was manufactured and installed
  • A fully operable 75 US Gallon belly shackle drop tank was installed
  • Hydraulics system testing
  • Complete cockpit restoration to stock condition, including a map case, period maps and a flare pistol

First post-restoration engine tests were carried out on November 9th , 2011, and the first post-restoration flight followed on April 21st , 2012. It received its flying permit from CAA and is now registered as G-CDVX.

As said, it made its first airshow appearance during this years' edition of Legends, flying alongside “big-friend” Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B”. The twosome made several passes to the tunes of the Manhattan Dolls (a New York city based swing-style female vocal trio), which was quite moving. Snafu was being piloted by Stuart Goldspink. I overheard some people stating that the display was quite sedate and far away, but seeing that this was its first post-restoration airshow debut, one couldn't really blame TFC for being a bit cautious.

The following slot was filled up by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on Saturday and by the Aerostars on Sunday.

The BBMF was present on Saturday with a three-ship formation of the Avro Lancaster B.1 PA-474, Spitfire Mk. IIa P7350 and Spitfire PR.XIX PM631.

After a formation pass, the trio split up for a paired display by the 2 Spitfires and some nice solo passes by the Lancaster.

The Aerostar display team replaced the BBMF slot on Sunday, flying their six Yak-50 aircraft they are probably Europe's largest civilian propeller display team.

The high gusty winds prevented the WWI aircraft act from flying on Saturday, but on Sunday the winds were not as strong and allowed the trio of a Fokker Dr. I, a SopwithTriplane and a Nieuport 17 to take to the skies in order to take the crowd back to WWI.

They do deserve a big amount of respect for flying in some tricky conditions, at least as far as WWI aircraft are concerned.

After some WWI nostalgia, the Axis aircraft were up, consisting of the Lufthansa Traditionsflug Junkers Ju-52, along with Anna Walker in the Bücker Jungmann and Gordon Brander in the Bücker Jungmeister.

It's always nice to see the Ju-52 being flown at Legends, turning so tightly and showing off what this big ol' lady can do. Both Bücker aircraft also flew some stunning solo aerobatics.

Switching back to some more fast action with Christophe Jacquard's Hawker Sea Fury FB11, flown by Eric Goujon for the occasion. This particular Fury is painted in Royal Australian Navy colors and is fitted with underwing smoke generators to add an extra dimension to the display. Not that it really needs those to stand out because this is one of the fastest single piston-engined aircraft ever built during WWII and Eric really put the aircraft through its paces.

Intended to fly in the same slot with the Sea Fury as part of the Naval theme was the Kenneth Skyraider, which took off initially but returned to the airfield not much later with engine problems, which unfortunately also was the cause of the Bücker aircraft not being able to display on Sunday.

The following trio to display was the Fighter Collection's Hawks, comprising out of a Hawk 75, a rare P-40B and a Merlin powered P-40F.

The Hawk 75 in particular put up a nice display in the hands of Dave Southwood.

Meanwhile, the other Hawks battered the airfield with some low passes. The rare Pearl Harbor survivor P-40B, flown by Alan Wade, is always a fabulous sight to behold and last year, both Hawks were joined by a third example, a Merlin powered P-40F.

P-40F 41-19841 was manufactured at the Curtiss-Wright plant in Buffalo, New York, in late 1942, and was later assigned to the 13th Air Force in the Southwest Pacific. The fighter was “dumped” in November of 1943, on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. It was retrieved in 1970 and acquired by The Fighter Collection some years later. They had it stored until enough potentially airworthy parts became available to restore it to airworthy condition.

That day duly came, when the Warhawk made its first post-restoration flight in April of 2011. She was also shipped to Duxford just in time to participate in last years' edition of Legends.

Lacking sufficient wartime information, TFC decided to repaint the fighter in the colors of P-40F-20 Lee's Hope, belonging to 1st Lt. Robert J. Duffield of the 85th Fighter Squadron of the 79th Fighter Group, based in Southern Italy in early 1944.

Lee's Hope was displayed by Patrice Marchasson.

Russian WWII airpower was next in the program, in the form of another threesome of a Yak-3, Yak-9 and Yak-11. After a frightful Legends 2011, in which he was forced to make a quick but successful bailout out of P-51D Big Beautiful Doll, Rob Davies made the welcome return to Legends this year, flying the Yak-11. The Yak-3 is based in the UK as of this year and was piloted by Richard Grace. The Yak-9 was flown by Paul Boschung. The trio really beat up the airfield and performed some stunning low passes.

Back to the 1930s now with the Royal British Navy and a Hawker Nimrod duo. Both TFC's Hawker Nimrod Mk. I and Historic Aircraft Collection's Mk. II performed gracefully over the Duxford airfield. Referring to the start of the article: in how many airshows can you see a Hawker Nimrod tailchase? Also consider that only 42 Nimrods and 36 Nimrod IIs were built for the Fleet Air Arm.

The Mk. I S1581 has been part of TFC since 2004, after being restored and flown by the Historic Aircraft Collection from 2000 to 2003. The aircraft is marked in the colors of 802 NAS, which it wore during its in the 1930s. It was the 3rd production aircraft built by Hawker at Kingston-upon-Thames and it embarked on HMS Glorious as “573”. The aircraft was written off in early 1938.

Nimrod II K3661 was built on September 5th , 1934, and was issued to 802 NAS, where it also served until June of 1938 aboard HMS Glorious. Restoration commenced in early 1992 and the aircraft made its first post restoration flight on November 16th , 2006.

Tailchasing time again! This time in the form of “only” three P-51 Mustangs (remember the statement of being spoiled in previous editions).Attending Mustangs were two duxford based examples, TFC's P-51D-25-NT “Miss Velma”, flown by Keith Skilling, and the Old Flying Machine Company's P-51D-25-NA “Ferocious Frankie” flown by Paul Bonhomme. They were joined by the German based TF-51D-25-NA “TF-871” owned by Max Alpha Aviation and flown by Marc Mathis.

Their performance took on a different formula on both days. On Saturday the three Mustangs stayed together during their performance in which they also did some aerobatic maneuvers. This almost took a bad turn as, during a vic-three formation loop, Miss Velma almost stalled out, sliding out of the formation. Thanks to the skills of Keith Skilling (I'm not doing this on purpose ...), the aircraft remained under control and was able to rejoin the display later on.

On Sunday, Paul Bonhomme in Ferocious Frankie flew a solo routine, with the other 2 Stangs beating up the airfield, providing some spine tingling turning passes at both ends of the runway.

Next to perform were a couple of WW2 “Harriers”: the Shuttleworth Collection's Westland Lysander Mk. IIa and Peter Holloway's Fieseler Storch, although the latter only participated on Sunday due to the high gusty winds on Saturday.

With all the rain we've been having this summer a couple of flying boats just seemed like a nice option. There were 2 present to display at the show, namely Plane Sailing's Consolidated Catalina and, flying for the last year in Europe, Tom Schrade's Sikorsky S-38 “Osa's Ark”.

The Catalina was “repainted” a bit this year, in that she now had some new nose art portraying “Miss Pick Up”.

The Sikorsky S-38 is a strange looking aircraft. It was Igor Sikorsky's first designed and built flying boat which first flew on May 25th , 1928. It was a twin-engined amphibious aircraft, capable of carrying 8 passengers in the main cabin.

A total of 101 aircraft were built and, commonly referred to as “the Explorer's Air Yacht”, saw a variety of success with airlines such as Pan Am and even within the military with service with all major US military forces: the Marines, Army Air Force and Navy.

The S-38 was also flown by some famous owners such as Charles Lindbergh, who used the aircraft to survey and explore South American and Pacific Ocean routes for Pan Am and also opened the mail routes from Miami to Rio de Janeiro and Panama.

No S-38s are known to have survived over the years, but an original upper wing and twin-tail booms were found in a warehouse near Burbank, California. These were used in the build of Tom Schrade's N28V reproduction. The aircraft was built by Born Again Restoration. After almost 40,000 man hours, N28V was completed in early 2002.

Tom had the S-38 repainted in zebra-stripes and named Osa's Ark, after filmmakers Martin and Osa Johnson's S-38BS NC29V Osa's Ark, which was used during their epic African expedition in 1933 and 1934.

In 2004, this aircraft was also used during the filming of the movie “The Aviator”, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, a story based on the life of Howard Hughes, as Hughes also owned an S-38 during his lifetime.

Tom is currently using the S-38 in an ongoing world tour, which started on August 21st , 2010, when Osa's Ark departed Owatonna, Minneapolis (United States), to Frankfurt, Germany. In the first ever transatlantic flight of an S-38, the aircraft made stops in Canada, Greenland and Iceland, before arriving in Scotland on August 27th of that same year. Now ending his tour in Europe, Tom plans to take the aircraft to Cape Town, South Africa. You can follow their exploits at their website by clicking here.

We're staying in touch with the water with the last chapter in the Naval theme, more specifically the British Navy. The Royal Navy Historic Flight brought a couple of aircraft to Legends, namely the Fairey Swordfish Mk. II and the Hawker Sea Fury T.20.

The RNHF Swordfish Mk. II LS326 was built in 1943 at Sherburn-in-Elmet and is thus technically a “Blackfish”. The Swordfish first flew in 1934 and in all, 2391 examples were built, the first 692 by Fairey Aviation and the remainder under license by Blackburn Aircraft Company. The Blackburn-built aircraft became unofficially known as “Blackfish”.

What's remarkable about the Swordfish is that, although built in 1934 and deemed obsolete at the outbreak of WW2, it remained in operational service throughout the whole war, thus being the last British bi-plane to see active service. This was mainly due to its superb handling capabilities which made it extremely suitable for deck flying operations and a very stable torpedo and dive bomber.

The RNHF's example was built in 1943 and became part of “L” Flight of No. 836 Squadron on board the MAC ship Rapana. After her retirement from active service she was used for training and communication duties at RNAS Culham, after which she was acquired by Fairey Aviation. She was restored to flying status in October of 1955 by the order of Sir Richard Fairey and participated in the movie “Sink the Bismark!” in 1959.

In 1960 she was acquired by the Royal Navy and has been flying there ever since.

The Sea Fury T.20 VX281 is one of two owned by the RNHF. The original single seat Fury FB.11 VR930 is awaiting a new Centaurus engine and is expected back next display season.

Meanwhile VX281 is filling up the temporary Fury gap. The aircraft is on loan to the RNHF and made its first flight there on June 1st , 2008. The Sea Fury was rebuilt by Kenneth Aviation.

Also subject to a lot of discussion amongst the general public at Legends is the participation of the Breitling Wingwalkers team. A lot of people seem to think they do not belong at a Legends show, but if barnstorming and wing-walking does not historically portray the “roaring-20s” in aviation, then what does?

Barnstormers were pilots and aerial stunt people who made a living entertaining crowds with breathtaking feats within the United States and Canada in the 1920s. However, if barnstormers were the most exciting daredevils of the late 1920s, then wing walkers were the most extreme and intrepid individuals among them. Wing walkers were the ultimate risk-takers of their day.

After WW I the Americas starting hosting the first “airshows” where members of the public could take joyrides for a few dollars. There were also some dazzling displays of terrifying loops and rolls and some upside down flying. The more dangerous the stunt seemed, the more the public liked them in those days.

As far back as 1918, an American flier called Ormer Locklear came up with a stunt that was guaranteed to wow the crowds: he would climb out of the aeroplane and walk along the wing and even climb from one aeroplane onto to another. Apparently Locklear first clambered out of the cockpit to fix a technical problem while training during the war. A normal person would have landed and then sorted out the problem. Pretty soon you couldn't operate a flying circus that didn't have a wing walking act and Locklear was soon joined by numerous other daredevils including the wonderfully named Ethal Dare, the world's first female wing walk who like Locklear would walk from plane to plane.

These wing walk pioneers were operating without a safety net: no parachutes, no safety wires tethering them to the aircraft. A slip of the foot meant plummeting to a certain death! The Boeing Stearman was a biplane used as a primary military trainer aircraft during the 1930s and early 1940s, so in the Breitling Wingwalker team we really have the best of both!

The closure of the regular “show” part of Legends 2012 was in the form of a pair of 1930 Beech Staggerwings and a beautiful Douglas Dakota C-53.

The Beech Model 17 design was conceived during the Great American Depression and first flew in November of 1932. It was designed as a premier business executive transport and set the standard for private passenger air travel for many years. You can compare it to the modern private jet. Each aircraft was custom made.

The name Staggerwing came from its design, more specifically from the atypical negative stagger of the wings where the lower wing is positioned further forward then the upper wing.

In the mid-1930s, Beech made some major design changes to the airframe, such as a lengthened fuselage, relocation of the ailerons to the top wings and incorporating a foot-operated brake system. This became the D-17 model.

With the outbreak of the War, slightly modified versions of the Staggerwing were built to be used as light liaison aircraft. These were designated as Beech UC-43 Travelers.

The two Staggerwings displaying at legends are owned by The Fighter Collection and Edwin Boschoff respectively. Anna Walker flew TFC's D-17S G-BRVE and Edwin flew his own UC-43 TravellerBuNo 23689 painted in the colors of the US Embassy London.

The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner designed and built in the mid-1930s. Its speed and range made a huge impact on the airline industry. Its extensive usage during WWII also makes it one of the most significant transport and troop carrier aircraft ever made. The airline variant is designated DC-3, whilst the military transport version was commonly referred to as the C-47 Skytrain.

The C-47 differed from the civilian version in numerous modifications that included being fitted with a cargo door and a strengthened floor. The pure troop transport version of the Dakota was designated C-53 Skytrooper. The US Navy also used a variant of the type which was designated R4D.

C-53D 42-68823 LN-WND is owned and operated by the Foundation Dakota Norway. The aircraft saw service as a troop transport during WWII and was later operated by Finnair, a Finnish airline operator. After a short ownership by the Finnish Air Force, it was acquired by ThoreVirik and Stokke Arne Karlsen. The C-53 is the sole Dakota flying in Norway and is used by the Foundation for pleasure flights and for displays at various airshows in Norway and Europe. The registration LN-WND refers to Norway (LN), warbirds (W), Norway (N), Dakota (D).

The traditional “grande finale” of Flying Legends is the balbo formation, which this year consisted out of 21 aircraft. After a mass take-off, all aircraft disappear off to the south to form up, whilst Stephen Grey performs his role as “the joker”, flying the Bearcat.

Once all aircraft were formed up, they made several passes over the airfield and after each passage, several aircraft brake off into smaller formations of four aircraft, which in turn make a final run and break to land.

In our opinion, Flying Legends 2012 was another spectacular edition and remains our favorite place to be. As mentioned before, in times of financial crisis, we don't know how they keep pulling it off, but pull it off they did once again.

Starting the countdown to Legends 2013…

Copyright © Christophe Haentjens - All rights reserved

Please feel free to contact us via e-mail or through the contact form on our website

Please like and follow us on Facebook!