For the first time in over 20 years, the UK is currently hosting the World Aerobatic Championships.
The Duxford Air Show salutes this with a special Invitation-only aerobatic contest, which aims to demonstrate in simple terms how individual manoeuvres are judged and marked. As the home of historic aviation, Duxford has elected to present this utilising aircraft flown in contests from the 1960s-1980s and – with one exception - by pilots who represented Great Britain at World level during those decades!
A former British Team member and international aerobatic judge will give an expert commentary as each aircraft in turn performs three basic figures. The pilots will then have an opportunity to showcase the unique characteristics and capabilities of their highly individual aircraft, as they fly two spectacular freestyle manoeuvres of their own choice.
One current British Team pilot will pit his skills against four former British Team members, one of whom was a three-times National Champion and 7th in the World rankings.
In addition to the thrills and spills of the vintage aerobatic contest, The Duxford Air Show nostalgically celebrates the heyday of vintage air racing with displays by the Percival Mew Gull and the Miles Speed Hawk VI, while the de Havilland Leopard Moth can be seen on static display.
A prototype of the de Havilland Leopard Moth won the King’s Cup in 1933. The Mew Gull is a legendary aircraft, flown by the outstanding pilot Alex Henshaw to win the King’s Cup Race, the most prestigious race of the period, in 1938. One of the youngest ever pilots to win the Race, Henshaw also broke the record for a flight to Cape Town and back.
The Miles Speed Hawk VI was built in 1935 as a one-off, especially for air-racing. The aircraft was bought in 1948 by Ron Paine, who competed in it in many air races around the country, finishing 2nd five-times in the King’s Cup – the last time in 1972.
The Duxford Air Show promises to be an outstanding weekend where the beauty of vintage aeroplanes compete in the skies with the sheer power of modern military types.
For further information go to What's On section - Air Shows and Flying or call 01223 835 000.
Aerobatic Contest Pilot Biographies
Mark Jefferies (flying the Yak 18) is the only current member of the British Aerobatic Team flying this weekend at Duxford and comes direct from the World Aerobatic Championship at Silverstone, where he flew his latest Extra 330SC – in which he was seen in action at the Spring Air Show at Duxford.
A pilot since 1980, Mark took up aerobatic competition flying four years later and has won numerous national contests since, in aircraft ranging from the Bucker Jungmann biplane to a Laser 200 monoplane. On this occasion, he will be flying a Yakovlev Yak 18.
Mark was British Champion in 1994 and from 2005-2007. He has represented Great Britain on no less than 10 occasions at the European and World Aerobatics Championships since 1990 and was placed 9th in the world in 2007.
Brian Smith (flying the Jungmann) became interested in aerobatics as a schoolboy in the 1960s and spent his spare time at the Tiger Club, which then was the centre of UK competition flying, accompanying the British Team to the 1966 World Championships in Moscow as team ‘dogsbody’.
Brian learnt to fly in 1970. Two months later, he won his first national contest, flying a Tiger Moth which had the distinction of being roughly double the age of its pilot. He went on to compete in Stampes, Zlin 526s and Pitts Specials, ultimately representing Great Britain at the 1976 World Championships in Russia and at the European Championships the following year in France.
Subsequently, Brian has maintained his aerobatic interests by displaying various Second World War fighters at Duxford. A professional pilot by trade, he has amassed over 24,000 hours flying time on aircraft ranging from ultra-lights to Jumbo Jets. He currently flies Boeing 747s for Virgin Atlantic.
Carl Schofield (flying the Zlin 526) learnt to fly at Hamble in 1961 on the British Airways training scheme. In order to build up his hours, he joined The Tiger Club and from 1964 onwards went on to compete in and win several domestic contests in the Stampe. He represented Great Britain in the World Aerobatic Championship in 1968 flying a Zlin 526 Acrobat, where he was placed 7th in the Unknown sequence and 12th overall. Carl flew for the British Team again in 1970, when the World Championship was hosted for the first time in this country at Hullavington.
Having flown in the famous Stampe and Zlin Duo displays for many years, Carl graduated to Second World War fighters and now displays principally for The Fighter Collection at Duxford. Until his relatively recent retirement, Carl was a Boeing 747 Training Captain with British Airways.
John Harper (flying the Tiger Moth) is known to all as ‘Harpo’. John learnt to fly in 1970 when he joined The Tiger Club. From 1973 onwards, he competed in domestic contests in the Stampe and demonstrated his aerobatic skill in a Tiger Moth by beating a then up-to-date Pitts Special!
He represented Great Britain in European and World Championships 8 times between 1980 and 1988, initially flying a Pitts Special and then a Laser monoplane. In a previous life, Harpo was a BBC cameraman, but since 1986, he has been a professional display pilot, flying instructor and aerobatic coach. When back on the tiny island of Papa Westray, Harpo is also a part-time tractor driver!
Pete Kynsey (flying the Cosmic Wind). A visit to the World Aerobatic Championship
at Hullavington in 1966 inspired Pete to take up the sport. In 1971, whilst still at school, he learnt to fly and later joined The Tiger Club to enter national contests in their 1940s Stampe biplane.
Pete bought a share in a Pitts Special, which enabled him to progress to Unlimited Level. He held the title of British Aerobatic Champion three times in the early 1980s. From 1981, he represented Great Britain at European and World Championships for six years, achieving 8th place in the world in 1986.
As Chief Pilot for The Fighter Collection at Duxford, Pete flies a wide range of historic Second World War fighters. He is also an accomplished seaplane, alpine ski aircraft and cross-country glider pilot. Pete’s day job is as Airline Captain on medium and long-haul routes.
The Commentator and Judge for the vintage aerobatic contest is Pete Jarvis. As an RAF pilot, Pete won the Wright Jubilee Aerobatic Trophy in 1964 and 1965. The following year, he joined The Tiger Club and went on to display the legendary Stampe and Zlin Duos with their famous ‘mirror’ formation.
In 1970, he represented Great Britain in the 7th World Aerobatic Championship at Hullavington. Between 1968 and 1984, Pete was British Judge at the World Championships on many occasions.
In 1984, Pete joined the Old Flying Machine Company at Duxford and transferred his aerobatic, formation and display skills to their MkIX Spitfire. Subsequently, he was responsible for the formation training of numerous display pilots. After leaving the RAF, he joined British Airways, for whom he became a Training Captain.
There can only be one winner~!
My money is on Mark Jefferies.