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Flying Legends 2008

July 12-13, 2008
Around 70 historic flying warbirds gathered at Duxford the former Royal Air Force World War Two airfield to take part in the annual 'Flying Legends' air show. Duxford is the home of a number of organisations tasked with keeping veteran warbirds in the air. As in previous years Duxford's many resident warbirds were joined by very rare and valuable aircraft from across Europe and this year from as far a field as the United States of America and Russia.

Flying Legend's organisers The Fighter Collection (TFC) this year had to take on the huge pulling power of the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) held at Fairford whose weekend dates had coincided. Usually the events are held in successive weeks. Many air show enthusiasts that usually attend both days of these two-day events, were saddened to have to make the choice between these major air shows. RIAT offered discounts on tickets for those who could make the choice well in advance. Yes, you could spend one weekend day at each event, but many would have preferred both days at each. Ironically following days of rain all over England both weekend days of RIAT were cancelled the night before, due to the hazardous conditions under foot and tyre at the Gloucestershire airfield. Duxford on the other hand, and even with its grass runway, had no problems what-so-ever in hosting yet another wonderful and well attended show. The occasional brief shower on the Saturday had no affect on the flying or the enthusiasm of the spectators, who came prepared for whatever conditions were to be thrown at them. Sunday was rain free and like Saturday was very warm and bright.
Flying Legends once again lived up to everyone's expectations. The 3½ hour flying display was extensive, working to the highly successful formula of flying warbirds in imaginative formations with opposition tail-chasing routines and spectacular solo displays. The blend of nostalgic sound of vintage aero-engines was joined this year by the informative commentary of Melvyn Hiscock and Bernard Chabbert from France, who talks in a sort of aviation 'poetry'.
Jane Larcombe of the Fighter Collection said, "Each year, we endeavour to make Flying Legends even better than the year before."You would think that the organisers would find it very difficult to produce a varied flying program of flying warbirds some of which are new to the show every year. Apparently not, once again there were several aircraft that were making their debuts at this world famous air show.

To ensure that the show take place it requires an extensive team of professionals and enthusiastic volunteers. On show day the hangars are a hive of activity starting at 5:00 am and ending well in to the evening. 
Left: Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC) ground staff escort their 74 year old Hawker Nimrod II to the flight line as the crowds start to arrive. 
Right: The Shuttleworth Collection's Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Sea Hurricane in close formation.
Flying Legends is not just an air show, its full of atmosphere and nostalgia. Various groups dress up in historical costumes to add a little extra to some of the shots to give it that period feel.
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress ('42-97849' 44-85734 / N390TH) 'Liberty Belle' graced the skies over Duxford
 flying 7,800 miles (12,550 km) and using the original World War Two ferry route to attend the show.
A Trio of Flying Fortress's
One of the most remarkable Legends debutantes and air show headliner was the Liberty Foundation's Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress named Liberty Belle. This World War Two bomber had followed the same route across the Atlantic as thousands of aircraft had over 60 years ago to attend. For 22 flying hours over four days the 7,800 mile journey took them from Atlanta via Bangor, to Goose Bay, Narsarsuaq in Greenland, Reykjavik in Iceland and on to Prestwick in Scotland. Curiously from Prestwick they flew to the small Hebridean island of Islay, off the coast of Scotland, to enable a crew member to meet with some family and friends who were generously taken on some local flights. Don Brooks, Liberty Belle's owner helped pilot the former wartime bomber along with chief pilot Ray Fowler. Don had always dreamed of owning a B-17 as his father, Elton Brooks, had been a tail-gunner in the original Liberty Belle (42-97849) flying 39 missions from Framlingham airfield in East Anglia when assigned to the 390th Bomb Group which was part of the 8th Air force.
The B-17s restoration from 1990 and 2004 which cost $3 million only the start the many challenges associated with keeping a 63 year old warbird in the air. Currently her cost per flight hour is $3,000 and to fund this in the United States Liberty Belle flies to a different city each week for displays, while offering up to nine seats at $450 each for a unique 30 minute experience flight. Although based in Douglas, Georgia she has not flown from there for the last 18 months.
Don has been involved in a number of projects and recoveries of warbirds over the years. Recently he recovered a Flying Fortress from Dyke Lake in Labrador which he hopes to restore and fly in ten years time.

The latest Liberty Belle is the former 44-85734 now N390TH which was built in May 1945 at Burbank California but immediately went in to storage and did not see active service. In 1947 it was sold to Pratt & Whitney becoming N5111N and was fitted with a 5th engine as a turboprop test bed. In 1967 it was finally retired and donated to the New England Air Museum. Following a tornado in 1979 the badly damaged B-17 was restored by Tom Reilly at Kissimmee, Florida before the Liberty Foundation took over control in 2000. More than 12,000 B-17s were built and today only 14 are currently in flying order.
Unfortunately Elly Sallingboe's B-17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B' operated by the B-17 Preservation was unable to take to the skies due to the recent failure of a replacement engine, never-the-less it was exciting to see the French based B-17G 'Pink Lady' join 'Liberty Belle' in a wonderful series of formation fly-pasts. What a pity that 'Sally B' was unable to make a flying trio of B-17s, just after overcoming problems with EU insurance regulations and receiving generous donations from Sir Richard Branson and the 'Sally B Supporters Club'  It is hoped that she will be flying later in the year.

See IWM Duxford for more details of future events.
Left to right: French based B-17G Flying Fortress (44-8846 coded 'DS-M' / F-AZDX) 'Pink Lady' is operated by the Association Fortresse Toujours Volant en France.
TF-51D Mustang 'Miss Velma' provides an escort for B-17G 'Liberty Belle'.
Outside of Liberty Belle 
Inside Liberty Belle. For a nominal amount you were able to walk through the World War Two bomber.
There is something new every year - The Flying Legends Debutantes
Left to right: 
Yakovlev Yak-3UA (D-FJAK 'White 100') piloted by Mark Jefferies and owned by Chris Vogelgesang is normally based at Bremgarten in Germany but is temporarily operating from North Weald. This is a new build aircraft built by Yakovlev at Orenburg in Russia from 1991 using the original plans but utilising an all metal construction with an Allison V-1710 engine. The original Yak-3s entered service as a short range interceptor fighter in 1944. 4,848 Yak-3s were built and they proved to be highly successful due to their impressive rate of role, climb and turn which was fully demonstrated at Flying Legends.
Mikael Carlsen flying one of his two original Thulin A/Blériot XI's built by Thulin in Sweden in 1918.
Sheringham Aviation's Spitfire Mk.1A (AR213 'JZ-E' / G-AIST) took to the air in November 2007 for the first time since 2001 following a four year restoration by Personal Plane Services at Booker.
Left to right: Douglas A-26B Invader (44-34602 'S' / N167B) of the Scandinavian Historic Flight based at Oslo Norway since 1988. It was transferred to the civil register in 1958 as N8392H and in 1964 as N167B.
Flying Legends 2008 - What else was there
Left to right: 
Curtis Hawk 75A-1 (No.82 'X8-81') of The Fighter Collection (TFC), it is the only flyable ex L'Armée de l'Air Hawk in existence.
Hispano HA1112-M1L Buchón (Spanish license-built Me.109) (Red '1' / G-BWUE ex C.4K-102) is owned by Spitfire Ltd and cared for by the Aircraft Restoration Company based at Duxford.
North American B-25J-20 Mitchell (44-29507 / N320SQ) 'Sarinah' of the Dutch based Duke of Brabant Air Force flying since 1989 from its home base of Eindhoven.
Left to right:
Gloster Gladiator Mk.1 ('K7985' L8032 / G-AMRK) of the Shuttleworth Trust.
Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC) Hawker Nimrod II (K3661), it was built in 1934. Found on a dump in 1972 it passed to the RAF Museum. Restoration started in 1992 before and the aircraft was acquired by HAC in 1993.
The Shuttleworth Trust's Hawker Hind (G-AENP/ 'K5414' coded 'XV').
United States built fighters
The North American P-51D Mustang was arguably the most successful long-range escort fighter of the World War Two. The Spitfire's Merlin engine, license built by Packard in the USA, was fitted to the D model, giving it a level speed of 437 mph at 25,000 feet and a maximum dive speed of 505 mph. Its range was an incredible 2,055nm.
Left to right: 
P-51D Mustang (F-AZSB / 44-11622 'G4-C') 'Nooky Booky IV' of Societe de Developpement et de Promotion de L' Aviation (SDPA).
P-51D-20 Mustang (44-72216 'HO-M' / G-BIXL) inscribed 'Miss Helen' is owned by Robert Lamplough of the Aerial Museum (North Weald) where it is based. Following a forced landing in 2004 'Miss Helen' flew once again in 2007. Unfortunately right at the end of the show once engine problems caused the P-51 to make heavy landing and damaging the undercarriage.
P-51D-25 Mustang ('44-14450 B6-S' really 44-73877 / N167F) 'Old Crow' of the Scandinavian Historic Flight leads 'Miss Helen' back to the flight line.
TF-51D-25 Mustang (44-84847 'CY-D' / NX251RJ) 'Miss Velma' of The Fighter Collection (TFC) acquired in 1999 it was converted to a two-seat and flown to Duxford in July 2007.
Left to right: P-51D Mustang ('44-13704 B7-H' really 44-73149 / G-BTCD) 'Ferocious Frankie' of the Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC).
Left to right: Vought FG-1D Corsair ('KD345 130' / 88297 / G-FGID) of The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Grumman F-8F-2P Bearcat (121714 'B-201' / G-RUMM) of The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Left to right:
Curtiss P-40B Warhawk ('284' '18P' 41-13297 / G-CDWH) of The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk (42-105915 '12' / F-AZKU) 'Little Jeanne' piloted by Christian Amara of the Societe de Developpement et de Promotion de L' Aviation (SDPA). This combat veteran was imported from New Zealand in February in to France and is based at La Ferte Alais.
Left to right:
Bell P-39Q Airacobra (42-19993 / G-CEJU) inscribed 'Brooklyn Bum – 2nd' is owned by The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Grumman FM-2 Wildcat ('JV579 F' really 86711 / G-RUMW / N4845V) is owned by The Fighter Collection (TFC). The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm employed Wildcats from 1940 in the fighter escort role. This particular aircraft flew for the first time in 30 years in 1993, following restoration by the Yanks Air Museum and Fighter Rebuilders of Chino, California. It was later transported by sea to the UK and on to Duxford. It is currently the only Wildcat flying in Europe. It has a maximum speed of 332 mph and range of 900 miles.
Left to right:
Norwegian Douglas C-53D Dakota (42-68823 / 11750 / LN-WND) of Foundation Dakota Norway.
Douglas A-26B Invader (44-34602s' / N167B) with North American B-25J-20 Mitchell (44-29507 / N320SQ) 'Sarinah' of the Dutch based Duke of Brabant Air Force.

A elegant way to fly
Left to right: 
Messerschmitt Bf.108 Taifun (D-EBEI) first flew in 1940 and eventually served in North Africa. Shipped to the United States in 1943 it did not return to Germany until 1990. It is owned by Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung.
de Havilland DH.90A Dragonfly (G-AEDU) five-seat luxury from the 1930s was used for pleasure flights each morning. It is owned by Sir Torquil Norman and is one of only two original airworthy Dragonfly's.
The Fighter Collection's (TFC) warbird UC-43 Traveller / Beechcraft D.17S Staggerwing (23689 / G-BRVE).
Privately owned warbird Spartan 7W Executive (NC17633) it was impressed into the USAAF in 1942. It is now based in Lexington, South Carolina. see history of type.
The Spitfires and Hurricanes
Left to right: 
Some of the nine Spitfires on show.
Spitfire LF.9E (PL344 'TL-B' / G-IXCC / N644TB) of Historic Flying Limited (HFL) based at Duxford.
Spitfire FR.14E ('MV268 JE-J' really MV293 / G-SPIT) owned by Stephen Grey of The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Left to right:
Spitfire HF.8C ('MT928 ZX-M' really MV154 / G-BKMI) of the Aerial Museum (North Weald) Ltd.
Two images of Spitfire LF.9C (MH434 'ZD-B' / G-ASJV) of the Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC).
Left to right: 
Spitfire LF.5B (BM597 'JH-C' / G-MKVB) of Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC) and is based at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford.
Spitfire LF.5B (EP120 'AE-A' / G-LFVB) of The Fighter Collection (TFC).
Corsair Warbird's Spitfire PR.19 (PS890 / F-AZJS) sporting a contra-rotating propeller powered by a Griffon engine taken straight from an Avro Shackleton.
Left to right: 
Hawker Hurricane Mk.2C (PZ865 'JX-E') of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight (BBMF).
Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk.1B (Z7015 '7-L' / G-BKTH) from the Shuttleworth Trust at Old Warden.
Just part of the end of show 'Balbo' warbird formation.