Where to start...
In just over a week, on the 8th May, I will be attending my fist airshow of the 2016 season. This will of course be nowhere else other than the hallowed turf of Old Warden for their season premier air display. Oddly, October of last year when the 2015 season came to a close seems to me like a lifetime ago, but also seems to have shot by in an instant. It's has been a very strange time to be an aviation/airshow enthusiast in the UK over the last six months.
There has of course been a lot of scrutiny over safety in the wake of the Shoreham tragedy and changes to the rules and costs involved are going to take effect this year. Though nobody with any sense would argue that a shake up of the rules was not needed after what was of course the worse airshow disaster in over sixty years to hit the UK. However many including myself whole heartedly believe that much of the changes that will take effect are not only unnecessary but are in fact detrimental to their own cause. The new rules now state that civil organised airshows must now in essence abide by military rules in terms of distances that aircraft fly away from the crowd, pushing aircraft further away. Now if the incident last August had injured anybody within the crowd then I'd completely understand this ruling, but this is not the case. In fact it was those that were not within the airfield boundaries that were killed and injured. By pushing back display lines they are actively going to encourage those wishing to get a closer view to watch from outside and not pay for a ticket to the show, putting them in harms way. On top of these new rules airshows now have to deal with a massive price hike in mandatory consultation fees for the CAA. This will definitely be detrimental to smaller shows as it's clear that many of these shows will find themselves less profitable and therefore possibly infeasible to hold in future. Considering that these shows are often held in aid of a local or national charity, it will be the charities that will be the ultimate losers along with enthusiasts finding less and less variety as years go on. Logically I don't really see how any of these changes are going to ultimately keep people any safer than they were already at airshows, which of course was the point of the review was it not?
Well with that little rant over, considering the circumstances of last August I guess we are pretty fortunate that airshows are by and large still going ahead this year at all, and I suspect that the public at large will not notice much of a difference when all is said and done. Of course us photographers will need to work a little harder to get results if that little bit more focal length will be needed. But I will of course make all the effort in the world to bring you the action to the best of my abilities. Besides I am increasingly finding ground shots more appealing than aircraft in the air anyway and nothing will have changed for the ground displays.
We're already starting to see a number of big shows revealing their line-ups for the year and already Duxford and Old Warden have some real crackers to look forward too. The American themed show at Duxford coming up soon looks to be a great way to kick of Duxford's year, and of course Flying Legends already has some great items too such as the Lockheed Electra Junior and the Red Bull fleet returning in force. Shuttleworth have also got some treats in store too with a big naval themed show, a Great War themed show too with an impressive line-up of originals and reproductions joining in the fun. Also a nice gathering of three Hurricanes and four Spitfires for their Military Pageant. So hey things are not all bad.
My first display as I've already stated will be at Old Warden on May 8th. The Current line up is as follows.
Curtiss P-40M Kittyhawk
Global Stars aerobatic team
Rotorsports UK Calidus
Dakota (BBMF) – flypast
Fauvel AV.36 Glider
de Havilland DH.88 Comet
Percival Mew Gull
Fiesler Fi-156A-1 Storch (Possibly last show in UK before departing for new home in Norway)
Hawker Sea Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a
Bristol F2.b Fighter
Edwardians*: Avro Triplane, Bristol Boxkite, Blackburn Monoplane, and Deperdussin