Shobdon Air Display

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I like to see one Air Display a year and what better than the one at Shobdon, run by the Herefordshire Aero Club? This year, in spite of much low cloud and torrential rain at times, it was run off almost to schedule, on July 20th. The Display was preceded by the NJR-Brian Herefordshire Air Race, one of a series which culminates with the King’s Cup. It was run to individual handicap, over five laps of a square circuit, for a total distance of 18 miles. The 1980 race had 21 entries, with Philip Mann’s DH Hornet Moth flown by Dr. Dalziel and the Auster of Ron Hatter, the limit machines, leading until the last lap. Then the back-markers came up, and Geoffrey Richardson, who used to test ERAs on the Shobdon runway many years ago, won in his Monson (taking the Strongbow Trophy and £165), from Graves’ Siai Marchetti and Crispe’s Cessna 337. Also in the money were Pursglove’s Piper Aztec, Smith’s Piper Arrow, and Carding’s Fuji. Richardson had been unable to take-off from his own strip because it was water-logged, so he had folded the Monson’s wings and brought it on a trailer. The. Hornet Moth was last but two but contrived to hold off a Twin Commanche and a Cessna 150. No speeds were announced by the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association. An interesting competitor was the odd-looking fibreglass Varieze flown by John O’Hara, appropriately registered G-LASS. . 

After a pause for passenger flights in a Navaroo and for visiting aeroplanes to land, the Display started. It included all the usual aerobatics, parachute jumps, and demonstrations, and Shobdon had managed to provide a wide variety of flying machines for the visitors to watch and photograph, including their own Club’s Cessna 152s, Cessna 172J, and the DH Chipmunk thrown about the sky by Brian Webster. Parachutists of the Herts Parachute Club ascended jointly in an Auster to 5,000 feet, and descended singly, safely dodging the lowering, menacing clouds. The Piper Super Cub then towed the Blanik glider off and the Falke motor-glider provided a memory of Lypmne 1923. The 1947 Chipmunk then had its own aerobatics display, flown by a past Chairman of the Club who is a·Director of Bulmer’s Cider, and who showed us barrel-rolls, loops, and stall turns, etc, the engine stopping as expected when the little monoplane was inverted. The best aerobatics of the day were those ·of Richard Goode in the Super Pitts, who even had the tiny biplane slipping backwards in a tail slide. Later the Rothmans Pitts S2S did similar stunts, which ended with David Perrin flying sideways along the enclosure, so that his sponsors’ name was prominently displayed. The half-ton, 150-foot span, 130-knot Austure glider contributed engine-less aerobatics and the local Model Aero Club, which has its own aerodrome nearby and which has increased its membership from 17 to 80 in eleven years, showed that real aeroplanes have nothing on these miniatures, some of whose engines run at 22,000 rpm and develop nearly two bhp. The fully-aerobatic Virtigo, for instance, will do 80 mph, and the twin-tail Beta Models of Hereford Viper is based on the Tomkat jet-fighter. 

Space restrictions preclude more than a brief reference to a very full programme, but the Red Arrows British Aerospace Hawks were the chief attraction, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight brought in a Spitfire and a Hurricane spot on time and aero batted them, a nostalgic sight for many of us, including the Display Organiser TM Kain, who was a Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot. Other ancient aeroplanes· flown were the North American Harvard IIB and a very nice Miles Gemini restored by the BPPU with SAC sponsorship, which made a flaps-down slow fly-past before landing. A VW-powered 70 bhp Girocopter was flown, hands off at one point, the Super Pitts circled a parachutist (who jumped from a Cessna 206) for the first time in the UK, both trailing smoke, the RAF helicopters did their piece, a Beechcraft Duchess gave a dignified display, the Piper Pawnee cropsprayer sprayed what was said to be whisky(!), the micro light aeroplanes looked a bit like big hang-gliders about to be dismantled by the wind, and there was even a take-off by the Rayne Parascending Club, as well as drops by the Strongbow Skydivers. The beautiful Siai Marchetti was described by the , .. commentator as the Ferrari of the air.

A very varied show, at this pleasantly “rural” aerodrome, watch for next year’s date. This year there was a small display of stationary engines puffing out paraffin fumes, although one of the big ones was said to run on any fuel, even old sump-oil, which must be what we may all soon need for our cars, and Moffatt’s GP Bugatti was in a prominent position, stripped as if for a race. – WB.

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