Flying Legends 1995 solidified the event as a must-see in the vintage aviation aficionados’ calendars. It built on the concept of the 1994 show, expanding the flying programme significantly and honing the multi-aircraft set-pieces it became known for. The flying was largely fantastic, with a strong mix of formations, solos and aerobatics.
It also started the trend of TFC debuting their latest restoration project – in this instance, Spitfire Mk.XIV SM832, flown at the show in the opening and Joker slots by Stephen Grey.The flying programme
Spitfire Mk.XIVs SM832 & MV293
SE5a, Bristol F2b, Avro 504K & Fokker Dr.1
Blenheim, Gladiator & Lysander
Hawkers Hind, Hurricane & Fury ISS
Bearcat & Fury ISS
P-38 & P-63
Junkers Ju 52 & Me 108 x2
Bf 109G ‘Black 6’ & Spitfire x5
Spitfire Mk.IX MH434
Mosquito & Spitfire Mk.IX x2
Corsair x2 formation and tail-chase aerobatics
Skyraider, Wildcat, Hellcat & Bearcat (formation then Hellcat, Wildcat & Skyraider solos)
Catalina & Avenger x2
BBMF (Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane)
L4 Cub & Mustang departure
B-17 & P-47
B-25 x2, A-26 & Mustang x8 airfield attack
Joker – Spitfire Mk.XIV SM832
Balbo (32 + Joker)
- P-38, P-47 & P-63
- Spitfire x3
- Hurricane, Spitfire & Bf 109G
- Mustang x4
- Mustang x4
- Skyraider, Corsair x2, Hellcat & Wildcat
- Bearcat & Fury
- Yak-11 x2
- Blenheim, B-25 x2, A-26 & Mosquito (!)What was new?
TFC’s Spitfire Mk.XIV SM832 (the best looking of the XIVs until RN201 arrived) made its public debut with Stephen Grey at the controls, opening the show (alongside Jack Brown in MV293) and returning for the Joker slot. This was the first of TFC’s many post-restoration Legends debuts.
It was also the first Legends outing for TFC’s new P-63 Kingcobra, flown by Steve Hinton. It had debuted at the Autumn Air Show 1994 the previous October.
Pino Valenti’s Fiat G.59 from Italy and the Dutch Catalina were first-time continental visitors.Context & observations
The foreign and domestic warbird quota was significantly up on 1994’s formative effort. There were also more choreographed set-pieces and formations this time round, really establishing Legends’ unique brand. Also notable were the number of solo displays throughout the programme – more so than in years to come, where multi-aircraft sequences very much became the order of the day. The programme was also significantly longer, with the deeper bench of aeroplanes involved.
Several static airframes and restoration projects joined the flightline walk, including OFMC’s red Sea Fury, Hans Dittes’ presumably tech. Bf 109G ‘Black 2’ and the IWM’s Lysander (meaning we had three Lizzies lined up three years before three of the type flew together at Legends).
Unlike the formation and solos of the previous year, the Mercury Flight flew a couple of three-ship formation passes followed by a Lysander solo, a brief Blenheim and Gladiator tail-chase, and then solos from each. A lovely segment.
The Hawker formation of Hind, Hurricane and Fury was a spectacular illustration of the Hawker lineage, and was repeated in 1999 with different aeroplanes.
The Ray Hanna & Stephen Grey ‘ultimate big pistons’ pair was absolutely wild. Some of the lowest and most aggressive airshow flying at Legends.
This was Lufthansa’s first Legends appearance. They would go on to become stalwarts until both Ju 52 and Me 108 were grounded/sold on respectively. Their sequence was memorable for some particularly low formation passes.
The Black 6 and Spitfire sequence was very underwhelming compared to the Spitfire sequences we’d see in years to come. A series of left-to-right orbits with the odd roll thrown in seemed like a bit of a wasted opportunity, given the aircraft involved.
Contrary to the VHS/DVD commentary, MH434’s solo was flown by Brian Smith, not Rod Dean.
The Mark Hanna and John Romain Corsair duo featured a low-level formation ‘dirty’ pass, which has to be pretty unusual for a warbird display sequence.
The late Howard Pardue flew the Hellcat/Wildcat over the weekend on alternate days. I must say I’m not sure if he was at Legends 93/94, but I’ll mention him here as he was a regular for much of the event’s run. His sad loss was honoured by a missing man formation of three Spitfire Mk.Is at Legends 2012.
Paul Bonhomme’s Skyraider display is still talked about by some enthusiasts today, and redefined what was deemed possible in the aeroplane.
If I recall correctly, the Catalina and Avengers only flew two formation passes before landing – that’d draw some ire on the forums these days! Interestingly, Paul Bonhomme flew a second Skyraider display whilst they were recovering.
The Cub weaving about low-level whilst the eight Nick Grey-led Mustangs hooned off the grass and gave the tank bank a good thrashing was pure Legends nirvana. The Mustangs comprised three from France, three from the UK, one from the Netherlands and one from Norway. This also established the ‘medium bombers beating up the joint at treetop height while the Mustangs go ape’ pre-Balbo set-piece that was a Legends trademark. Worth noting this wasn’t the more traditional ‘bombers over the grass, fighters over the hard’ approach either – the bombers and fighters flew interspersing figure-8s, with the Balbo aircraft lifting off below. Exceptional.
The first 17 aircraft in the Balbo overflew the airfield in formation first, with the remainder getting airborne and joining up after that first pass (leading into the second Joker slot). I’m not sure that has been done since. The Balbo was much tighter on the second, fully formed 32 aircraft strong run through.
This marked the second time a Spitfire Mk.XIV was used in the Joker slot – MV293 having been 1994’s – and it would be 2000 before we saw a XIV back in this role (on that occasion flown by Paul Bonhomme, the first non-Grey Joker). Stephen Grey then took MV293 as the 2003 Joker, the last time a Mk.XIV was used – but not the last time a Spitfire Joker’d.
Last edited by Elliott Marsh
on Fri 10 Jan 2020, 1:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.