Flying Legends Airshow

Flying Legends 2024 wil not be held

Flying Legends

Flying Legends will not be held in 2024


The finale has traditionally been a balbo

Flying Legends has long been regarded as one of the most popular warbird air shows and possibly THE heritage air show of the UK aviation calendar. The show traditionally features historic piston engined aircraft in rare combinations in the air and an authentic 1940s atmosphere on the ground with the occasional, more recent, flying legend. The traditional finale has been a 'balbo', a massed-formation featuring many of the aircraft that took part in the flying displays.

The 2020 show was cancelled because of the Coronavirus outbreak. The IWM and The Fighter Collection subsequently issued statements to announce that the show would no longer be held at Duxford. A proposed new venue at Sywell was announced on 6th November 2020.

Details of the 2021 show were developed and tickets went on sale, but towards the end of May the organisers announced the cancellation of that year's Flying Legends.

News of a possible show in 2022 was delayed until, on 11th February, the announcement was not of the hoped-for show details but of another cancellation.

Before a possible 2023 Flying Legends was announced officially, USAF Air Combat Command listed Flying Legends on 15th & 16th July in their display schedule but no venue was given. It was later confirmed that Flying Legends 2023 would be held on those days at Leeds East Airport, the former RAF Church Fenton.

Aircraft listed for 2023 are listed in the table to give an idea of the nature of the show. However, it was announced in December 2023 that Flying Legends would not take place in 2024. A message from the show is on their web site and social media.

Other messages from the show, outlining a brief history of other recent changes, are reproduced below.

Message about 2022

(from Flying Legends web site and social media).

Dear Flying Legends community, pilots and friends,

It is with deep regret that we must confirm the cancellation of Flying Legends 2022. Our search for a suitable alternative to Duxford has not been successful, despite our best efforts. To compromise and select a lesser location for the event would neither do you nor the brand justice.

This decision was not made lightly and pains us all, but we are determined to find a new home for the show in the near future. One that will ensure the continuity, excellence and growth of Flying Legends for many years to come.

Thank you for your patience and support in this difficult matter and please accept our deepest apologies.

We look forward to meeting you again in 2023.

Kind regards,

Nick, Stephen and the 'Team'

Message about 2021

(from Flying Legends web site)

In the light of yesterday’s message (27.05.2021) from our Prime Minister, and the uncertainty surrounding the UK opening fully for business, it is with deep regret and a heavy heart that we must cancel this year’s event. We understand the government’s careful position but cannot safely stay the course in the light of the potential loss and lack of clarity so close to show time.

We sincerely apologise for the disappointing news but the circumstances are truly out of our control. We will be reimbursing all of you, our faithful friends of Flying Legends who pre-paid for tickets in the coming days.

On a personal note and in the name of the whole team at The Fighter Collection who have worked so hard this past year to prepare the aircraft and the show itself, please know that this decision has not come lightly. We are very sad but pray that next year will be COVID free for all and that Flying Legends 2022 will be a classic.

Thank you for your understanding and for your dedication and support.

Yours sincerely
Nick Grey

Contacting the show

Flying Legends should not be contacted through any airfield but through their own email:

A message from Nick Grey of The Fighter Collection about the move

Dear Friends of Flying Legends

I look at this and the years gone by with immense gratitude for all the wonderful moments we have lived with you our faithful and fanatical community. It is with a heavy heart that we confirm 2019 was the final Flying Legends with our friends at IWM Duxford. We truly hope that our team will find an alternative location to welcome this iconic event and that we will have the privilege of seeing you all again. Thank you for your support and kindness.

Statement from IWM about the move

After a long and successful partnership of some 30 years, IWM Duxford and The Fighter Collection (TFC) are announcing today that the Flying Legends air show will no longer be taking place at Duxford.

Given the financial pressures which have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic over the past few months, IWM Duxford has been required to examine all future events and consult with key partners to ensure that, as a charity, the organisation is able to maximise income and remain financially stable. It was therefore mutually agreed that TFC would seek an alternative location to host Flying Legends, which will be confirmed at a later date.

John Brown, IWM Executive Director Commerce and Operations, commented:

“The Fighter Collection will continue to be a highly valued partner at IWM Duxford and we are delighted that its collection of amazing aircraft will remain on site and continue to be displayed throughout the year. We are confident that Flying Legends will continue with its success and would like to thank them for entertaining audiences at IWM Duxford over the years. We will be making some exciting changes to our own Air Show programme for next year and look forward to sharing more details in the coming months.”

The aircraft listed were for Flying Legends 2023. It is intended to give an idea of the kind of show Flying legends generally offers (for anyone not already familiar with the format).
Spitfire EE602Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc G-IBSY 'EE602' (Fighter Aviation Engineering)
Spitfire EP120Supermarine Spitfire LFVb EP120 G-LFVB (The Fighter Collection)
Grace Spitfire ML407'Grace' Spitfire Mk1XT G-LFIX 'ML407' (Air Leasing)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk FLIXb G-AVDJ MH415
Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-CFGJ 'N3200' (IWM)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-AIST 'P7308' (Comanche Fighters / TFC)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1 G-CGUK 'X4650' (Comanche Fighters)
Spitfire MkVc G-LFVCSupermarine Spitfire Mk Vc G-LFVC JG891 (Comanche Fighters)
Spitfire PL983 (NHS Spitfire)Supermarine Spitfire Mk X1 G-PRXI 'PL983' (ARCo)
Vickers-Armstrong Spitfire FR XIVe G-SPIT was MV293 now as 'MV268 (Johnny Johnson) JE-J'Supermarine Spitfire FR XlV G-SPIT MV268 (Air Leasing)
Spitfire Mk VIII MT928Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIIIc D-FEUR 'ZX-M MT928': MaxAlfa Aviation
Spitfire Mk IXB MH434Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXb G-ASJV MH434: Merlin Aviation / Old Flying Machine Company
Spitfire RM297Supermarine Spitfire FR XIV RM927
TF-51D Mustang 'Contrary Mary'North American TF-51D Mustang 'Contrary Mary' (formerly 'Miss Velma') G-TFSI (Anglia Aircraft Restorations / Ultimate Fighters)
P51D Mustang 'The Hun Hunter'P51D Mustang 'The Hun Hunter'
P51B Mustang 'Berlin Express'
Hawker Hurricane P2902Hawker Hurricane Mk.I G-ROBT P2902 (Anglia Aircraft Restorations)
Hawker Hurricane Mk X G-CHTK (previously G-TWTD) AE977, painted as Mk1 'P2921': BHHH Hawker Hurricane Mk X AE977 G-CHTK, painted as Mk 1 P2921 (Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar)
Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 R4118Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-HUPW R4118: James Brown
Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB BE505
Goodyear FG-1D CorsairGoodyear FG-1D Corsair G-FGID (The Fighter Collection)
Chance-Vought F4U-5NL CorsairChance-Vought F4U-5NL Corsair F-AZEG (Les Casques de Cuir collection)
Lockheed P-38 Lightning (Flying Bulls)
North American B-25J Mitchell (Flying Bulls)
Republic P-47 ThunderboltRepublic P-47 Thunderbolt G-THUN 'Nellie B' (Fighter Aviation Engineering)
Hawker Fury G-CBELHawker Fury FB.II G-CBEL 'SR661' (Painted as Sea Fury Prototype) (Fighter Aviation Engineering)
Grumman WildcatGrumman FM-2 Wildcat G-RUMW (The Fighter Collection)
Grumman Bearcat F8F-2P G-RUMM: The Fighter CollectionGrumman F8F-2P Bearcat G-RUMM
Curtiss Hawk 75Curtiss-Wright Hawk H-75A-1 G-CCVH (The Fighter Collection)
Warhawk Lees HopeCurtiss-Wright P-40F Warhawk G-CGZP 'Lee's Hope': The Fighter Collection
Curtiss P-40C WarhawkCurtiss P-40C Warhawk G-CIIO (The Fighter Collection)
Curtiss-Wright P-36C G-CIXJ
Gloster Gladiator N5903Gloster Gladiator G-GLAD 'N5903' (The Fighter Collection)

Classic Formation comprising DC3 and 3 Beech 18s
Buchon Yellow 10 in Desert LiveryHispano HA-1112 Buchon G-AWHK 'Yellow 10' (ARC)
Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon 2-seater G-AWHC 'Red 11': Air Leasing
Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon 'White 9' G-AWHHHispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon "White 9" G-AWHH (Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar)

Flying Legends 2017 (at Duxford)

Golden show on the Silver Anniversary

Battle of Britain flypast

Battle of Britain Flypast

In 2016, the buzz around Flying Legends surrounded the inclusion of a jet - the F-22 Raptor - and the new layout, designed to minimise the impact of the safety regulation changes. This year the layout of the museum followed the pattern established in 2016, with no 'tank bank' and most of the crowdline from the central area eastwards further forward, but it barely raised a mention amongst fans or commentators. Perhaps that just goes to show how well the changes were designed and managed in 2016.

Other features of Flying Legends that maintained the usual high standard were the impressive number and variety of aircraft - 44 plus the Red Arrows - access to the museums; three hours of access to the Flightline Walk; the ability to attract fans from all over the globe and the special atmosphere in the wartime airfield that is unique to this Imperial War Museum venue.

Although there was spectacle all around, the most significant were in the air and one of the most memorable was the sight of five Hurricanes (four on Saturday) flying in formation with three Mk. 1 Spitfires and the Blenheim. Amongst the quintet on Sunday was Anglia Aircraft restoration's Mk 1 P2902 at its first public show since its recreation from the parts rescued from Dunkirk, where it was crash landed by Pilot Officer Kenneth McGlashan. P2902 became the world's 15th airworthy Hurricane when it took its first post-restoration flight on 19th June 2017, less than three weeks before its debut at Legends: the five Hurricanes in the Sunday formation representing a third of all airworthy Hurricanes in the world.

The display began with the Spitfires and built into the Battle of Britain flypast before the Hurricanes broke off for their display, including gently flowing aerobatics by P2909, followed by alternating Blenheim and IWM Spitfire N3200 solos. A first class section of the show and for many the highlight of Legends 2017. (... continued below the pictures)

4 Hurricanes

Four Hurricanes on Saturday


Buchón 'Black 8'

Sally B and Mustang

Sally B with Mustang escort

There were other massive achievements leading up to Legends 2017 that make Flying Legends one of the greats amongst airshows worldwide. Notable amongst them in 2017 were the arrival of two Mustangs from the USA. One, 'Frenesi', a P-51D, was dismantled and crated for the journey. The other, P-51B 'Berlin Express', was brought over the hard way by Lee Lauderback. With nearly 10,000 Mustang hours in his log book he is the most experienced pilot of the type in the world, ever. The 5,470 mile journey via Goose Bay, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland was followed by enthusiasts via several web sites. Once, this would have been a regular journey as aircraft were ferried from the USA to the UK, but these days it qualifies as a rare, epic flight, ending at Duxford on July 4th, in time to allow its new owner, Dan Friedkin, to display at the show alongside Steve Hinton and Ed Shipley as part of the Horsemen Flight Team. Well, that was the plan and Lee did his bit. Unfortunately on Saturday, the first day of Flying Legends, Berlin Express lost its 'Malcolm hood' canopy during Nick Grey's thunderously fast and very low pass over the hard runway. Some reports say the canopy disintegrated and fell; others than it fell and disintegrated on impact with the ground. Either way it is evident that part of the canopy came into contact with the empennage, causing visible damage to the vertical stabiliser, preventing further flight over the Flying Legends weekend and also a planned appearance at the following week's RIAT.

Without Berlin Express the much-anticipated return to Legends of The Horsemen Flight Team, the world's only P-51 Mustang formation aerobatic team, was delayed for a day. On Sunday, following an aircraft change to Frenesi, Miss Helen and The Shark, the trio, led by Steve Hinton with Ed Shipley and Dan Friedkin on either side, did make their first Mustang three-ship display at Flying Legends for eight years. Those who were at the show on Sunday witnessed a majestic close formation display, worthy of the reputation the team brought with them. On Saturday the gap in the programme left by their absence was filled by an extra solo display by Pete Kynsey in the Grumman Bearcat F8F: a fine display in its own right but inevitably a disappointment, especially for those unable to come back on Sunday to see The Horsemen.

The Bearcat had previously been in action as part of a Naval Fighters trio comprising, as well as the Bearcat, the Goodyear Corsair and Anglia Aircraft Restoration Company's Mk ll Hawker Fury, playing the role of a Sea Fury. As with several of the displays, there were two displays in one: the Corsair performing solo aerobatics, alternating at stage centre with the Bearcat and Fury flying repeated formation passes including a feast of topsides. (... continued below the pictures)

Just as 2016 was memorable for the inclusion of the F-22, so 2017 will be remembered as the year the Red Arrows made their Legends debut. Before the show, the discussion was around whether it was an appropriate display for a Flying Legends airshow, whose reputation rests on the variety and quantity of piston-engined aircraft. The retrospective discussion will be less about the appropriateness and more about the display itself.

The display itself was a 'pre-show' to the main traditional part of Sunday's Legends. Just before it got underway, Red 10 announced that the display would be offset from the standard B axis to avoid aerobatics over a residential area. The same arrangement applied at the RAF Cosford Airshow a week earlier but, unlike at RAF Cosford, there was no pre-warning this time. The revised oblique line detracts hugely from the impact of the display, especially for those at the eastern end of the airfield for whom most of the manoeuvres appeared very distant. A further distraction was introduced when a stray para-glider caused a halt for several minutes.

There was a further interruption to the flow of the show later in the afternoon, when three Squirrel helicopters arrived to bring members of the team for ground-based PR activities. The norm at Flying Legends, and the other shows at IWM Duxford, is for aircraft to be taxiing, taking off, displaying all at the same time in a meticulously planned entwinement of aircraft activity. That is one of the strengths of shows at Duxford. But when the Red Arrows come - for a display or for a visit - there is a prolonged pause in other activity to satisfy their requirement for clear airspace. (... continued below the table)

Flying (tap / hover over icon for more detail)

Beechcraft Beech-18 N21FS & N223CM (flying with DC3: Classic Formation)
Boeing B-17G 'Sally B'
Bristol Blenheim Mk 1 G-BPIV
Bücker Jungmann G-BSAJ
Consolidated PBY Catalina G-PBYA
Curtiss-Wright P-36C G-CIXJ (DID NOT FLY)
Curtiss-Wright P40C G-CIIO
Curtiss-Wright P40F Warhawk G-CGZP 'Lee's Hope'
Curtiss-Wright Hawk 75A G-CCVH
de Havilland DH88 'Comet' G-ACSS: Shuttleworth Collection
Douglas DC-3 N431HM (flying with Beech-18 pair: Classic Formation)
Douglas DC-3C 'Daisy' SE-CFP
Douglas C-53D-DO Dakota LN-WND
Gloster Gladiator 'N5903' G-GLAD
Gloster Gladiator 'K7985' G-AMRK: Shuttleworth Collection WITHDRAWN
Goodyear Corsair FG-1D G-FGID
Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat G-RUMM
Grumman FM-2 Wildcat G-RUMW
Hawker Fury Mk. II G-CBEL
Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-HUPW
Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-HITT 'P3717'
Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-ROBT 'P2902': Anglia Aircraft Restorations
Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk 1b G-BKTH 'Z7015/7-L'
Hawker Hurricane Mk XII G-HURI
Hawker Nimrod Mk 1 G-BWWK
Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 F-AZXJ CANCELLED
Hispano HA-112 Buchón G-AWHK 'Black 8'
Messerschmitt Bf 109E (BHHH) CANCELLED
LeVier Cosmic Wind G-ARUL
North American P-51B Mustang N431HM 'Berlin Express' (made one pass on Saturday then was damaged. Did not fly Sunday)
North American TF51D Mustang G-TFSI 'Miss Velma'
North American P-51D Mustang 'Moonbeam McSwine' WITHDRAWN
North American P-51D Mustang G-SHWN 'Sharkmouth'
North American P-51D Mustang "Frenesi" 'N-357FG'
North American P-51D Mustang 'Miss Helen'
Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF: Shuttleworth Collection
Red Arrows (Sunday only)
Supermarine Seafire LF111 G-BUAR 'PP972'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk I G-CGUK 'X4650'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a G-CFGJ 'N3200'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-AIST 'P7308'
Supermarine Spitfire LFVb EP120 G-LFVB
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb 'BM597 G-MKVB
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1X G-LFIX 'Grace Spitfire'
Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk IX G-BRSF 'RR232'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1Xb G-ASJV 'MH434'
Supermarine Spitfire Tr9 G-CCCA 'PV202'
Supermarine Spitfire FRX1V G-SPIT 'MV268'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XV111 G-BUOS 'SM845'
Supermarine Spitfire PRXIX F-AZJS CANCELLED Damaged in accident in France on 11 June
Travel Air Type R 'Mystery Ship' G-TATR
Additionally, most aircraft involved in the flying displays were on static display beforehand

Overall, bearing in mind the restrictions that prevent the best display, and the pauses that are uncharacteristic of Duxford shows, some may be forced to wonder if displays by the Red Arrows add anything to such a show as Flying Legends. This is not to criticise the team, whose skills are beyond question. Rather it was the way in which their involvement caused stops and starts in an otherwise flowing airshow. Perhaps they drew additional visitors but surely the vast majority came for the variety and quantity of legendary aircraft that no other show displays as well as Flying Legends.

Many of the highlights this year, as most years, were once-in-a-while displays, such as The Horsemen, who last flew three Mustangs here in 2009, or the five Hurricanes including an airshow débutante. But two highlights that are Flying Legends regulars are the Balbo and the opening Spitfire formation.

The opening formation this year comprised nine Spitfires. They began in a single formation before breaking into two groups, six of them demonstrating a tailchase whilst the remaining three: SM845; the Grace Spitfire ML407 and Boultbee's RR232 made a series of low, close passes.

Regular it may be, but the Balbo is no less spectacular for that. Just as exciting as the superbly assembled and choreographed mass flypasts is the gathering and take-off from the airfield of such a number and variety of warbirds, each taking their position on the grass or hard runway and each lifting into the sky solo, in pairs or trios. Surely at no other airshow is there such a merger of aural harmony and visual delight.

The Balbo this year comprised 19 aircraft, led by Pete Kynsey in the Bearcat. This is not as many as some years but there was the usual variety with eight Spitfires and a Seafire; three Mustangs; a Wildcat, Bearcat and Corsair; P-40C, Hawk 75, Warhawk and a Buchón. Following the spectacle of the massed take-off, it inevitably takes a while for the aircraft to move into formation. Rather than leave a gap, centre stage is taken by the 'Joker'. The Joker has nothing to do with the character of the same name in the Batman films. The origin is the jester, employed since ancient times to entertain, notably in the royal courts on several continents, especially in a gap before a feast or the delivery of news. At Flying Legends, the Joker fills the interludes whilst the Balbo forms up and between the first pass and its return.

On Saturday Richard Grace filled both slots in the Hawker Fury but on Sunday the Fury shared the role with Comanche Fighter's Mk 1 Spitfire X4650, flown by Nick Grey, who performed Flying Legends 2017 solo finale.

Apart from the carefully choreographed balbo split and breaks for landing, that should have been the end of the show. On Sunday, however, there was an unwelcome extra act when Mustang 'Miss Velma' suffered an engine problem, causing pilot Mark Levy to make an unplanned landing in a wheat field on the other side of the M11. There was some anxiety following the standard advice that car parks would remain closed for the time being to allow emergency services unhindered access to the surrounding roads, but thankfully news soon broke that the Mustang was upright and the pilot out of the aircraft: which was successfully recovered to the IWM Duxford site the following day. Huge credit is due to the team for dealing with the incident so quickly and for keeping the crowds informed.

Flying Legends 2017 promised much and delivered on most of its promises. It would be unfortunate if it were remembered for a few mishaps. Yes, people will recall that this is where Miss Velma was damaged and yes, it will long be lamented that after an arduous but successful transit from the USA, Berlin Express did not get to complete any of its planned public displays. But the successes were more numerous than the mishaps. The rare sighting of Mustangs from the USA; the display of the Horsemen; the debut of Hurricane P2902 and especially, very especially, the formation of five Hurricanes and three Mk 1 Spitfires surrounding the Bristol Blenheim. This may have been the silver anniversary of Flying Legends, but the content was golden.

Aircraft count

44 aircraft
(plus the Red Arrows on Sunday)
5 Hurricanes
12 Seafire / Spitfires
5 Mustangs

Fifty vintage aircraft - and a jet

Heritage Flight F-22 Raptor & P-51 Mustang at Flying Legends 2016

F-22 Raptor & P-51 Mustang at Flying Legends 2016

As Monty Python didn't say, 'no-one expects the jet evolution' at Flying Legends, but a legend it is, so the F-22 made a rare non-piston appearance at the 2016 show. Otherwise it was business as usual, with around 50 vintage types gracing the skies over Duxford for the 23rd incarnation of one of the most popular warbird air shows in the world.

Ahead of Flying Legends in 2016, much of the talk was around the new CAA regulations; the display line; the crowd line; the closure of the 'tank bank' and absence of tickets on the gate. Anyone who feared a negative impact should have been very pleasantly surprised. Advance ticketing certainly eased entry. Straightening the crowd line by moving forward much of the barrier line from the central area eastwards, and measuring the crowd separation distances from these points rather than the tank bank on the far west, brought the crowd closer to the action rather than making the action more distant, as had been feared. It also enabled the usual multi-axis displays to continue. Brave changes by the organisers that had attracted many groans ahead of time, but very effective and possibly the format for future Duxford airshows.

The show was not a sell-out on either day and the crowds appeared thinner than in earlier years, although that thinness may have appeared exaggerated by the enhanced efficiency of the layout. The normally shallow crowd area on the tarmac in front of the classic airliners, for example, now spread further forward to allow greater crowd depth. Another change for 2017 was a ban on tents and windbreaks ahead of a white line drawn several metres behind the front of the crowd line. This very welcome change prevented the usual 'hogging' of prime space by an advance guard, saving space with a line of windbreaks for themselves and others who do not arrive until later. Of course, it doesn't stop the placement of seats for the same purpose, and in practice a few tents did appear, but another laudable innovation by the Legends team. (... continued below the pictures)

Grumman Avenger

Grumman Avenger


F-22 Raptor at Flying Legends 2016

Hawker Sea Fury

Hawker Sea Fury

Hawker Nimrod K3661

Hawker Nimrod Mk2 K3661

Perhaps because of the lower numbers, perhaps because of the advance ticket only rule, but for whatever reason the roads and entry lanes coped wonderfully all weekend. Once inside, apart from getting the feel of the new layout, visitors were able to view many of the aircraft up close in the static line-up for three hours during each morning for an extra £5; wander through the museums, free to enter as always during Duxford airshows. This year an impressive collection of large scale model warbirds were on display in the 'Vintage Village'. The village, also had vintage entertainment including The Manhattan Dolls, an American swing band, Laurel & Hardy and 1940's hair & makeup demonstrations and there were the usual trade, charity and aviation interest stalls.

On Saturday the weather was dry but not bright enough for the best photos and rather windy. On Sunday the day started very wet but cleared just in time for the displays, becoming rather better than the day before. On both days the show's opening sequence involved half-a-dozen Spitfires and the only airworthy Seafire in the world, Air Leasing’s Mk. III, with a slightly different routine each day, providing between the days plenty of wingovers and half-cubans as well as a tailchase as a backdrop with the Mk X1V drawing focus in the foreground. Typically mood-setting Flying Legends intros, albeit disappointingly short.

Seven such aircraft will always draw attention, but a particular highlight was Spitfire Mk. Vb EP122, recently rebuilt by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar from remains recovered from Malta and flying at Legends only 2 months after its first post-build flight on 4th May. Those wanting to see the unusual Mediterranean-era livery were disappointed, though, as the Mk. Vb was devoid of cannon and wearing a less interesting scheme as a Dunkirk veteran, representing R9649 to suit filming requirements.

As well as BHHH's Spitfire another débutante, and late addition to the flying programme, was North Weald Heritage Aviation's recent acquisition, Hawker Fury Mk.11 G-CBEL, the subject of a great deal of enthusiast attention in the days leading up to the show. The Fury was in its very photogenic Sea Fury prototype paint scheme and looked even more attractive when airborne in the more-than-capable hands of Richard Grace: the star of the show in the eyes of many at Legends 2016.

Another débutante was Mustang was Miss Helen, which flew at Duxford with the F-22 as the latest in the sequence of USAF 'Heritage Flights', when warbirds and their contemporary counterparts display together. Miss Helen, a 'filmstar', having flown in the same 'Memphis Belle' movie as Sally B, flew on both days of the show and is the last original 352nd Fighter Group P-51 known to exist. 'Miss Helen', now owned privately by Robert Tyrell and based at the Boultbee Flight Academy in Goodwood, has only recently returned to flight following its landing accident in 2008. The pair made several passes before the sky was cleared for Heritage Flight pilot Dan Friedkin's F-22 Raptor solo.

Shiny coats were in vogue with two out of three Hawks, the Swiss-based Classic Formation of two Beech 18s and a DC-3 - another Legends first - and two of the three Flying Bulls all sporting bodies to match the polish of their displays.

In true Flying Legends tradition, there was plenty of flying by aircraft from the stables of the Fighter Collection and other returnees. A litany of those aircraft will not be recited here - they are listed in the table - but worthy of special mention were the Nick Grey's athletic Gladiator display; the Buchón pair in close formation aerobatics; a routine involving a trio of Mustangs (pair on Sunday), 'Miss Velma' (Saturday only), 'Moonbeam McSwine' and 'Sharkmouth' transitioning to a 'Miss Velma', Sharkmouth and Sally B 'bomber and escort' demonstration and ultimately a Sally solo, and the pleasing number of curving topside passes throughout the afternoon.

On the downside, there were rather a lot of cancellations. The windy conditions didn't suit the WW1 fleet, but that couldn't be helped. Several technical issues further reduced the numbers and others were cancelled without obvious cause. Fourteen pages in the programme - about a third - were dedicated to aircraft that didn't actually fly on the day, including the Storch which was to have made its last UK display here before moving to its new home in Norway. The table indicates the cancellations, with reasons where we know them.

Some have accused Legends of rolling out the same aircraft in varying combinations under different themes but that misses the point on two counts. First, every airshow lineup has repeat participants - the Red Arrows have over 50 displays in their 2016 schedule and surely no-one tires of them: so, too, it is good to see The Fighter Collection's vintage treasures as many times as they are able to fly. The second count is that, even if the same or similar aircraft are involved, the themes do tell a varying story. This year's novelty was the story of Malta, linked with the Battle of Britain, featuring a pair of Gloster Gladiators (one on Sunday), a pair of Hispano Buchóns (representing ME109s), the Bristol Blenheim, a Mk1 Spitfire and a Hurricane.

As always, the finale was a balbo by a skyful of Spitfires and friends. In truth, the sky was not quite as full as it has been, with 20 aircraft on Saturday and 17 fighters on Sunday, but no less spectacular for that.

Flying (tap / hover over icon for more detail)
Albatros DV.a. (cancelled - unserviceable)
Beech-18 N21FS (with 2nd Beech-18 and DC-3)
Beech-18 N223CM (with 2nd Beech-18 and DC-3)
Boeing B-17G 'Sally B'
Bristol Blenheim Mk l G-BPIV
Bucker Jungmann G-BSAJ
Chance Vought F-4U-4 Corsair (Flying Bulls)
Chance Vought F4U-5NL Corsair (MaxAlfa) (cancelled)
Curtiss P-40C Warhawk G-CIIO
Curtiss P-40F Warhawk "Lee's Hope" (withdrawn - hydraulic problem)
Curtiss H-75A Hawk
Curtiss P-36C
Douglas DC-3 (with 2x Beech-18)
Douglas Dakota LN-WND
F-22A Raptor Heritage flight with P=51D mustang 'Miss Helen'
Fieseler Fi Storch (cancelled - too windy)
Gloster Gladiator G-GLAD
Gloster Gladiator G-AMRK
Goodyear Corsair FG-1D G-FGID0
Grumman TBM Avenger 'Charlie's Heavy'
Grumman FM-2 Wildcat G-RUMW
Grumman Bearcat F8F G-RUMM
Hawker Fury Mk l G-CBZP
Hawker Hurricane Mk Xll G-HURI 'Z5140'
Hawker Nimrod Mk I G-BWWK
Hawker Nimrod Mk ll G-BURZ 'K3661'
... continued from column on the left
Hawker Sea Fury Mk II G-CBEL
Hispano HA-112 Buchón 'Yellow 10' G-BWUE
Hispano HA-112 Buchón 'Ace of Spades' G-AWHE
Lockheed 12A Junior Electra (Patrick Donovan) (from Seattle)
Lockheed P-38 Lightning (Flying Bulls)
Morane D-3801 (MS406) HB-RFC (cancelled)
North American B-25J Mitchell (Flying Bulls)
Mustang Miss Helen

North American P-51D Mustang 'Miss Helen' Heritage flight with F-22A Raptor

North American P-51D Mustang 'Sharkmouth'
North American TF51D Mustang G-TFSI 'Miss Velma'

North American P-51D Mustang F-AZXS 'Moonbeam McSwine'

Piper L-4 Grasshopper Piper L4J 'Grasshopper'
Sopwith Snipe (Attended but too windy to fly)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk I G-CGUK 'X4650' (withdrawn - on filming duties)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-CFGJ 'N3200'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-AIST 'P7308' (withdrawn - on filming duties)
Supermarine Seafire LFIII G-BAUR
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb G-MKVB 'BM597'
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb G-CISV 'EP122'
Supermarine Spitfire LFVb EP120 G-LFVB
Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIIIc D-FEUR (cancelled)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXb G-ASJV 'MH434'
Supermarine Spitfire LFlX 'Grace Spitfire'
Supermarine Spitfire FR XIV G-SPIT
Supermarine Seafire Mk XVII G-KASX (withdrawn)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVIII G-BUOS 'SM845' (cancelled)

Getting to Flying Legends

By car

Sywell is in Northamptonshire, off the A43 between Northampton and Kettering.


There are links to other route planners in the Travel Advice section.

By Train

There are regular rail services to Wellingborough, about 5 miles from the aerodrome, Northampton, about ten miles away. Both are roughly an hour from London.

There will be a free Shuttle Bus service from Wellingborough Rail Station on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th July to Sywell Aerodrome and back after the show. Seats have to be reserved via email to quoting your ticket booking reference number. More details on the Flying Legends website.

Click here to create a pocket timetable for your journey between any stations on the National Rail network.

Travel Advice

Road traffic updates
Highways Agency
Incidents and enquiries
National Railway Map
DIY pocket timetable
Journey planning by public transport
Route planners (Road)
Bing (Microsoft)

Accommodation near Flying Legends

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.

Some Options

There are four Premier Inn hotels in Northampton and another one in Wellingborough, all within about 10 miles of the show.

The International Hotels Group have a Holiday Inn in Northampton, about six miles from the show and two Holiday Inn Express hotels, one in Kettering and one in Northampton, both about 9 miles from Sywell.

Travelodge have six hotels within about 8 miles of the show in or around Northampton, Kettering and Wellingborough.

Click any of the blue names to go to the corresponding web site. The links already have the location built in, but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.

Weather for the Sywell area

UK Met Office Forecast

A full 7 day Sywell weather forecast from the UK Met Office

BBC Forecast

A 14-day forecast from the BBC

What the forecasts tell you

The Met office 7-day forecast includes actual and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.

The BBC's 14-day forecast has overall conditions including and hourly estimate of temperature, wind direction, wind speed and UV range.

Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.

2024 Show Basics


No show in 2024

Airshow links

Flying Legends web site


Church Fenton
Postcode / Sat Nav LS24 9SE


Click for Photos taken at Flying Legends Airshows