After a year of none it was great to be back at an airshow last weekend, especially the off-airport ones with pretty locations, and few airshows have a prettier location than the Midlands Air Festival which is held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.
If anyone was looking for context about the impact of the Coronavirus on airshows then it is worth noting that the Midlands Air Festival marked the Red Arrows first display in the UK since July 2019 and display they did, wowing the crowd with their precision flying and smoke against a clear blue sky.
Swansea based Team Raven was another multi-aircraft display team that wowed the crowds at Ragley Hall. Their 5-ship formation danced through the sky in a display of precision and formation aerobatics.
A 9-ship display of Tiger Moths by Tiger 9 created a more sedate display of formation flying but nonetheless impressive as they bi-planes carried out close passes and formation manoeuvres.
Rich Goodwin, now a UK airshow staple, brought his Pitts Specials to the party including his latest aircraft G-JPIT on which he intends to fit a pair of jet engines. For now though he was simply showing off the muscle Pitts capabilities and amazing aerobatics.
The RAF Typhoon brought the noise with their special black liveried Eurofighter Typhoon performing a breathtaking display of power, capability and noise.
One of the more unusual displays was the Turbulent display team who carried out limbo flying under a wire just 12ft off the ground. The three aircraft then carried out flour bombing and balloon popping in a three-way competition.
Helicopters came in the form of old military types such as the Wasp and Sioux aircraft which gave a desiplay of precision rotary flying which as always is very different from fixed wing displays. Otto The helicopter also made an appearance and gave a more aerobatic display.
A Grob 109 Motor glider gave the one of the more graceful displays of the weekend with its almost silent looping and almost ballet like manoeuvres through the sky and the PBY Catalina flying boat and B17 Bomber represented larger aircraft types.
A rare sight was the Russian Spitfire making one of its very few UK appearances and contrasted the two British Spitfires flown by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The Gipsy pairing of a DeHavilland Chipmunk and Auster aircraft showed off early military aircraft use in a display of formation flying and the Stampe Display team gave a graceful display as well as a demonstration of aerobatic moves alongside an explanation from the commentary team.
The whole weekend was superbly organised and safety was paramount. Visitors to the event had to show evidence of a negative COVID test before entry, something which is likely to be the normal for some time, and the reduced numbers meant there was plenty of space to socially distance.
Of all the people we spoke to only one negative stuck out and that was the odd choice of having a rock band in a trade stall which mean lots of people couldn’t hear the commentary of the airshow itself so perhaps future events will see a more careful process of approving trade stand users.
Overall the Midlands Air Festival was a great event buoyed up by great weather. It is one airshow that certainly punches above its weight and we can’t wait to come back next year!