Shobdon Air Display

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Shobdon, July 16th

I like to see one Air Display a year, for old time’s sake. So while Ferrari was winning the British Grand Prix I was off to the pleasant aerodrome of the Herefordshire Aero Club, to watch the Shobdon Air Display, which was under the control of Wing/Comdr. A. James, OBE, with Stuart Barnes as Air Traffic Controller. The Show was preceded by the traditional Herefordshire Handicap Air Race for a Trophy and £450 prize-money put up by NJR Heater Services. Flown over a 90-mile course with four turning points per five laps, it was won at 177.51 m.p.h. by F. Purslove (Piper Turbo-Arrow), from P. Cremer (Jodel Ambassadeur) and R. Hayter (Cessna 180). Richardson’s Monsun was fourth, a Cherokee Arrow fifth, out of 12 finishers, so there was a nice, variety of makes in the money, if not very close racing. Tom Storey’s 1935 Percival Mew Gull was heavily handicapped but made best time, averaging 196.8 m.p.h. Cull’s Cassut IIIM and a Piper Arrow retired, but both landed back at base.

Parachutists then went off in a Norman Islander to jump with Stratocloud ‘chutes, many landing on their feet but one taking a heavy fall.

The last unfurled a National Benzole flag during his descent. Harry Hawthorn then demonstrated an American Tomahawk two-seater and landed this 200-h.p. Lycoming-engined aeroplane deadstick onto, its tricycle under-carriage, after showing off its 109-knot sea-level maximum speed, 46-knot stall, and the agility of this 4-1/2 gallons-per-hour Club trainer. This was followed by a crop-spraying demonstration by Thrush Commander and Piper Pawnee aeroplanes of Aero Cropcare Ltd. Able to land in 500 yards, they spray at 100-115 m.p.h. and their side-by-side fly-past at nought feet was most impressive.

In the absence of the expected Tiger Moths, three VW-engined Druine D31 Turbulents treated us to some skilled tied-together flying, after which Philip Meeson aerobatted a Marlborough Pitts S1S single-seater biplane. As expected of such a famous pilot, he rolled off an outside loop and did much inverted flying, in this 1,000 lb., 180 h.p. Lycoming-powered aeroplane that cruises at 140 m.p.h., and climbs at 3,000 ft. per minute. Contrast was provided by an Avro Anson in RAF livery, which gave a fine performance before Gordon Fraser flew it away to White Waltham. It was found at Aldersgrove in 1960, having been in a hangar for 12 years. It was rebuilt at Booker and flew again, with its two Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engines, in December 1977.

Hamish Moffatt then swung the prop of the famous England-Australia 1941 DH Tiger Moth G-ANRF (fuelled and oiled by Shell), which was displayed in the air by its popular pilot, FIt./Lt. David Cyster, who flew it to Sydney this year to commemorate Bert Hinkler’s great flight over the same route in 1928 in an Avro Avian. (David then had a ride in Moffatt’s stripped-for-racing 1924 Type 35 Bugatti, as did Wing/Comdr. Jimmy James). As this Tiger Moth carries extra equipment it isn’t allowed to aerobat, but a glider later obliged with a loop. An item not in the programme was a motor-glider performance, by Mavrogordato unless I am mistaken, son of the owner of the 1914 GP Opel. (Incidentally, apart from the Bugatti, the only vintage car I saw at Shobdon was an Austin 12 saloon).

A Varsity from Duxford allowed its two Bristol Centaurus motors to propel it in a decently tight turn for a large aeroplane, three intrepid parachutists gave the first public performance, sponsored by Bulmer’s of Hereford, the cider people, of a combined-drop, two of them with their feet in one-another’s ‘chute air ducts, having jumped from 5,000 ft., and then we had another race to watch for F1 machines over 5-laps of the aerodrome. The winner was Marley’s Cosmic Wind, running its 100-h.p. Rolls-Royce engine at some 3,000 r.p.m. Crazy flying, that “must” for any flying display, the origins and development of which was so ably described in Aeroplane Monthly not long ago, was done very ably at Shobdon by Brian Lecomber in his Stampe, who impersonated his, “non-flying engineer” to great effect. The crop-sprayers then unsuccessfully tried to douse a runway fire, by dropping 150 gallons of water on it in 5 to 10 seconds, and the 50-strong local model-flyingclub gave its own show.

Comdr. Wren flew past in a RN Swordfish and to recognise 60 years of the RAF there were other fly-pasts by Service aircraft, notably of a Spitfire from RAF Coningsby by Wing/Comdr. Jones, who gave us a victory roll; their Hurricane alas, had gone uls that morning. For those who were too young to comprehend the full significance to Britain of the Spitfire, the programme did its best to explain. In short, Shobdon put on its usual very good Air Display. – W. B.

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