Against All Odds
2010 saw the tenth anniversary of the Abingdon Air and Country Show which has grown from humble beginnings to the first big event on the air show calendar of the season. This annual show is all for charity and is the biggest single fundraiser for the County Air Ambulance.
Late Spanner in the Works
One of the big attractions at Abingdon is that the vast majority of the flying acts operate from the airfield in the afternoon. During the morning, the acts form a 'live' static line whilst a number of small civil aircraft arrived as part of the fly-in. The runway at Abingdon also allowed for acts such as the Swift team to perform their glider stunt display.
However with 36 hours to go until the start of the show and for the first time in the shows ten year history, the branch of the MoD responsible for the airfield (Defence Estates) refused to allow any fixed wing aircraft to use the runway as part of the airshow. Why they have made this decision has yet to be published especially when considering that the day before the show saw fixed wing operations on the runway from the based Air Cadet squadrons.
With such short notice, this provided the events team with a massive mountain to climb. Bases for all aircraft needed to be found and something needed to be done to keep everyone's attention. In the end, they pulled it off by finding local airfields to host the aircraft whilst also increasing the lineup! A massive thanks needs to be extended to this team of volunteers. Sadly, the expected C-17 and C-130J on static could no longer happen but something a little bit special was laid on instead.
It Aint 'Alf Hot Mum!
After a fortnight of superb weather around the UK, it was left to a bank holiday weekend for the heavens to open. The morning began with very heavy rain and a strong on crowd wind which had to be braved by the crowd until the start of the air display. Luckily, the rain cleared the airfield for the display but the weather in the rest of the UK meant that some aircraft could not make it to display. The aircraft that could display had to battle with the strong on-crowd wind pushing them towards the display minima however, the pilots showed their professionalism and continued to provide a superb display.
Abingdon International Airshow?
The show this year had a very special undertone which helped celebrate the tenth anniversary with a bang.
Abingdon has enjoyed International static military participation for a number of years now, with appearances from the Polish Navy and an almost annual appearance from the US Army SHAPE in Belgium with a UH-60. 2010, for the first time also saw International military participation in the flying display with a visit from the KLu's F-16 solo display team. Not only was this a debut at Abingdon, it was the first instance of an afterburning display at the airfield since the final Jaguar display in 2005.
The show also had unique participation from RAF Brize Norton with multiple flypasts from a VC-10 and a single, fast fly-by by a C-17. These are the sort of participants you expect from a larger military airshow, not a charity event. This highlights how important Abingdon has now become.
Not Just Flying!
Abingdon, as in its title, is not just an airshow it is also a country show. There is lots to see and do for the family throughout the day with a main display ring which saw events such as Goose wrangling this year! A number of clubs also attend and show off their rare vehicles or re-enact military forces of the past and present. There was never a dull moment at Abingdon!
Abingdon is fast becoming a must attend show for aircraft enthusiasts and allows photographers to get their eye in for the rest of the season. With its first international flying participation, the Show is expanding from strength to strength. One does worry that the apparent stance of Defence Estates (whatever it may be) doesn't stunt or ruin this superb charity event.
Andy Evans would like to thank the volunteer organisers of the event for their hard work and commitment to the cause. To read more about the event and information on next years event, please visit www.abingdonfayre.com. To see more photo's from this event, please visit the Gallery.