A first class air and car show with plenty of variety for the whole family, including an action arena, extensive vintage military 'village' with vehicles and re-enactors, vehicle zone, 2 hours of vehicles on the track and lots of period entertainment.
The 'wings' part of the airshow includes air displays totalling about 5 hours each day featuring a mixture of civilian and military aircraft, including with a good variety of WWII and modern types. The full line-up will be in the table when known.
The 'wheels' element includes a parade of vintage and military vehicles close to the crowd line and more distant runway demonstrations of historic and modern supercars and bikes.
There are also trade and wings and wheels related stalls, rides and amusements.
Despite the decision to develop the aerodrome, the preparatory stages will take quite a while. Wings and Wheels 2017 will not be affected.
Dunsfold airfield was built by the Royal Canadian Army in 1942. It was originally an emergency airfield and sometime home to B25s, Mustangs, Spitfires and other WWII craft. Following the war, the airfield was a repatriation centre which handled over 47,500 prisoners of war and also played a part in the Berlin airlift in 1948/9.
The airfield was involved in the development of the Harrier, Hawk, Hunter and other aircraft when it was owned by Hawker Aircraft Company Ltd (now part of BAE systems), but after nearly 50 years of Hawker / British Aerospace history,it was finally closed in 1999.
The aerodrome is currently a private unlicensed airfield, part of an industrial estate, a location for practice flights by the Chinook amongst others and home to 'Top Gear'.
|Red Arrows (both days)|
|Typhoon (both days)|
|BBMF Lancaster (both days)|
|(x2)||BBMF Spitfires (2) (both days)|
|All appearances are subject to availability and to technical, weather and other constraints|
A B-25 and B-17 pairs take-off and VC10 fast taxi were just two of the highlights of this Bank Holiday weekend show at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
Despite tricky weather over the weekend, virtually everything left on the programme flew; the exceptions being the Scout from the Historic Aircraft Flight, which became unserviceable, leaving their Sioux to display on its own, and Peter Teichman's Hurricane, which was also unserviceable but was replaced by Peter flying Mk1 Hurricane P2921, borrowed from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.
Unfortunately, there had already been several other cancellations (see the table) and much of the RAF involvement this year had been curtailed because of the withdrawal or shortened season of teams. Nevertheless, Wings & Wheels still got the Red Arrows, the Typhoon and a BBMF Spitfire pair, as well as the Royal Navy's Black Cats. These UK military displays were all booked to fly both days, and most did, although the Red Arrows were unable to reach Surrey on Saturday because of a vicious storm at Brize Norton.
This was one of the few shows to feature both the B-25 and the B-17. A true bonus was seeing these two WW2 bombers in the air together. On Saturday they performed a pairs flypast. On Sunday there was no flypast, but they did take off together. Another unscheduled bonus was a flypast by a Puma from RAF Benson on Saturday: a single, brief flypast, not as flamboyant as the flypast at Eastbourne earlier in the month, but a welcome surprise nonetheless.
Saturday's weather had some brightness but it was dull much of the time. On Sunday the dull conditions dominated, with frequent rain showers. The Turbulent Team probably got the worst of it, not only because their display coincided with one of the heavier showers, but also because they fly with open cockpits. Nevertheless, they battled on and even managed a weekend record number of balloon bursts.
Towards the end of Sunday the cloud was especially thick and low, so the commentators warned that the flying might be at an end before the Typhoon and BBMF Spitfires were due to appear. The sound of the Typhoon above the clouds appeared to confirm that pilot Mark Long had come for a look and everyone assumed that, as we could hear but not see him, he would have to call off the display. In reality Mark did decide to fly the display, which turned out to be one of the best of the weekend, with oodles of 'spluff' and after-burn flare, amply rewarding those in the crowd who had decided not to leave wet and early.
Surprise stars were the Reds Duo: a pair of model Red Arrows planes flown by father and son team Steve and Matt Bishop, carrying out many of the manoeuvres familiar to fans of the full-size version. They are not new to Dunsfold but do seem to pull something out of the hat each time. Last year they saved the day when, in terrible weather, they were the only displays for some while. This year, when the real Red Arrows were unable to display on Saturday, Red 10 - the Red's manager and commentator - became the commentator instead for the mini version, much to his own surprise as well as that of the crowd. As an aero modeller himself he was clearly impressed by the performance of this world champion pair. There were other traditionally-powered and electric-powered models too, but the Reds were the top of the very impressive group.
In a year when vintage jet displays over land have been rather scarce, following the tragic events at Shoreham in 2015, it was especially good to see the Vampire pair from the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron on their Dunsfold debut and Dan Arlett in Jeff Bell's Jet Provost T5.
All displays are listed in the table and most will not be verbalised here but, deserving special note, the Aircraft Restoration Company's Hispano Buchon, flown by Steve Jones, was in its temporary coat, worn for the benefit of the 'Dunkirk' film; the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight B-25H Mitchell 'Sarinah' also wore a disguise representing the RAF’s 320 Squadron, largely composed of Dutch pilots and based at Dunsfold during WW2, who enjoyed a reunion at this year's show and, unique to Dunsfold, there was a fast(ish) VC10 taxi run on Sunday for those at the show early enough to catch it.
There have been calls for more variety in the flying displays. To be fair there were débutantes at Wings and Wheels 2016, including Sally B and the Vampire pair. We also have to remember that this is a family show, so regulars such as the Turbulent Team and Wingwalkers (although absent this year) are expected in order to please the family part of the audience. Nevertheless, a few changes such as the Wildcats or Team Raven instead of The Blades; a little more foreign participation and more combination flying would be good to prevent the event becoming stodgy for the regular airshow-goer.
Even so, and as always, Dunsfold Wings and Wheels proved to be a first class air and motor show with plenty of variety for the whole family, including runway demonstrations of historic and modern supercars and bikes, an action arena with professional and amateur displays on a variety of bikes, extensive vintage military 'village' with vehicles and re-enactors, a static vehicle zone, lots of period entertainment, charity and trade stalls, rides and amusements - as well as 10 hours of flying over the 2 days.
There were not a huge number of static aircraft (see the table), but a major plus at Dunsfold is that there are invariably interactive statics, that visitors can not only see but also interact with in some way, staffed by helpful personnel. This year there was a RN Mk2 Merlin that visitors could get inside and ask about.
There is one airshow a year, invariably over the late August Bank Holiday weekend. Predominantly a show for families rather than an aviation purists, it offers fairground rides, stalls-a-plenty, circus-type antics and a well supported two- and four-wheel static and moving motor show as well as around 5 hours of flying each day: with virtually the same line-up on each of the two days.
|Red Arrows (RAF) Sun only. Sat weather-bound at RAF Brize Norton|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)|
|BBMF Spitfires (2)|
|Black Cats (RN helicopter display team)|
|B-25 'Sarinah' (RNAF Historic Flight)|
|B-17 'Sally B'|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team|
|Gerald Cooper Xtreme Air|
|P-51 Mustang 'Red Tail'|
|Hurricane BE505, Hangar 11 (Unserviceable. Replaced by BHHH Hurricane).|
|Jet Provost T5|
|Vampire Pairs display|
|Scout & Sioux (AHAF) pairs display (Scout cancelled - unserviceable)|
|Aces High DC3|
|VC-10 (Sunday only)|
|Previously listed by show or operator but cancelled or withdrawn before the show|
|Chinook (RAF) CANCELLED withdrawn for rest of season|
|King Air Display Team (RAF) CANCELLED withdrawn from all 2016 displays|
|Dakota ZA947 (BBMF) CANCELLED unserviceable|
|Sea Vixen CANCELLED (damage to starboard flap)|
|Breitling Wingwalkers (Sat only)|
|Boeing 747 (Dunsfold resident)|
Pick up the A281 from the A23, A24 or A29. The show ground is well signposted from the A281. Many of the roads, especially the last bit, are country roads which can get congested on show days, so allow plenty of time. There is free parking.
Postcode (for Sat Nav) GU6 8TB
National Express have coach services to Guildford and Horsham. You can book coach seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site. The normal local bus service, run by Arriva, does not operate on Bank Holidays (show days are Bank Holidays). However, from 2015 there will be a service between Guildford bus station and the show, four times a day, profits going to Help for Heroes. See this page on the Wings & Wheels web site for times and costs.
There is no station at or within walking distance of Dunsfold. However, the London to Portsmouth line serves several stations nearby. The best to try are Guildford (10 miles) and Godalming (6 miles).
The local bus service to the village does not run on Bank Holidays but from 2015 there has been a limited service direct between the show and Guildford four times a day. See this page on the Wings & Wheels web site for times and costs. Otherwise, a taxi is the only realistic option from the station to the aerodrome.
The variety of rail tickets and fares can be very confusing. Trainline and Raileasy web sites list all ticket and fare options for the time and day of travel you choose, but they both levy an admin fee. Click either of the blue ticket agency names to go to their web site.
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site. Not all hotel searches will recognise Dunsfold, so you may have to use Godalming or Cranleigh instead.
We find that, between them, LateRooms and Expedia list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.
Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates.
Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
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