Able to host their now-annual airshow at the idyllic Kent airfield of Headcorn in its usual calendar slot in June, having had to push back their 2020 event to September due to the ongoing pandemic, Aero Legends bolstered their Battle of Britain airshow’s identity with a strong format making the most of their assets, building on that of previous years.
To say that starting a new airshow in the UK is a difficult undertaking would be a huge understatement, following the sharp decline in the number of events in the country over the past five years, let alone being able to build its own character and keep running for more than a few seasons – but that is exactly what Aero Legends have managed to achieve.
The show at Headcorn differs from many others in the more relaxed nature of the flying display, with different combinations of aircraft grouped into more spaced-out display slots. Each of these is very different in itself and allows those particular aircraft included to shine in a particular combination – with the Dakota pair, T-6 pair, and Aero Legends Spitfire pair all flying in more than one sequence – utilising the extensive and expanding Aero Legends fleet, along with a smattering of visitors, to best effect.
The lighter types make for a relaxed start to the show, with the Aero Legends Tiger Moths and Thruxton Jackaroo joining some of the based Stampe Team. A poignant missing man was flown in dedication to one of their team members, Angus Buchanan, who was sadly killed in an accident at the airfield in May.
Staunch supporters of the show in recent years, the BBMF appeared with a punchy Spitfire duo before landing on, and B-17 ‘Sally B’ put on a fine display, joined in the air by the Aero Legends pair of Dakota IV KP220 and C-47 Skytrain ‘Drag ’em Oot’. They were up again in another slot, showcasing the outfit’s heavies of Douglas, Spitfire, and T-6 pairs.
Quite a collection of fighters had been gathered on the grass airfield for what would be the show’s finale – with nine Spitfires and a single Hurricane and Buchon taking part in a well-choreographed sequence. These comprised the main section of Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 leading Mk.VIII MV154, Mk.IXs RR232 and MH434, Hurricane P3717, Mk.IX MJ721/G-IRTY, PR.XI PL983 and Tr.IX PT462. Notably, this was the first airshow appearance for Maxi Gainza’s Mk.VIII since moving from Germany to be based with ARCo at Duxford as well as G-IRTY’s, the Silver Spitfire’s, debut air display – quite a coup!
The Aircraft Restoration Company’s Hispano Buchon screamed in to perform an airfield attack, with a Spitfire scrambled to dogfight the invader whilst the rest of the fighters got airborne off the grass – an impressive sight at the small grass airfield. The rest of the fighters formed into two box-fours, running in once the Buchon had been dispatched.
Filling in impeccably each time the main formation repositioned was Aero Legends’ own pair of Spitfires Tr.IX NH341 and Mk.IX TD314 with Charlie Brown leading Anthony Parkinson through aerobatic figures, Charlie’s signature flowing barrel rolls being particularly pleasing. All put together, it was a fine afternoon of entertainment and if Aero Legends’ approach can be tweaked each year, with some different visitors and scenarios, it’ll keep the show fresh but also simple – hopefully a winning formula for the future.
Sadly the weather on the Sunday of the event precluded any flying from taking place, however, Aero Legends have stated that ticket holders will be able to transfer to the 2022 event, which is a nice touch. We look forward to it with anticipation!