After the disappointment with last years Bournemouth Airshow – where we spent the day on the SS Shieldhall only to find ourselves moored much too far out to make photography practical – we decided to spend the money this year on a different airshow. With a choice between the Royal International Air Tattoo or Duxford Flying Legends we opted for the slower pace of Duxford as something a little different from the normal air shows.
So, clutching our VIP Gold Pass tickets, we set off at something silly o’clock in the morning and found that the roads were amazingly empty all the way there to the extent that we found ourselves slowing down to prevent us arriving too early! The Gold Passes mean preferential parking just a few hundred metres off the M11 so no traffic jam, and preferential entry into the Imperial War Museum entrance at Duxford so not much of a queue to get in. Once in we found the VIP area and grabbed front row seats, quickly followed by a Bacon Roll and a coffee. Seating is tight, with as many seats as possible crammed in to the seating area, so not much room to swing long lenses around. Standing up in front of the seating area is not allowed, which is politely but firmly enforced by the staff. There is however a large area just behind the seating blocks for people to stand and wave long lenses around just 20 meters back from the front seating row so no real problem in terms of distance from the runway. In hindsight I feel that a large comfy camping chair behind the seating blocks is the way to do it in the future.
Duxford Flying Legends is a little different from the other airshows in that it’s all about Warbirds – so the emphasis is on vintage World War II aircraft doing their thing. There are not many places where you can see a total of 15 different Spitfires flying throughout the day, as well as a variety of other rare classics. Having said that it was the Red Arrows that started off the flying part of the day – the only jets that appeared all day – before an afternoon of pure propeller power.
Notable absence of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight and no Hawker Hurricane although lots of Spitfires. A Hurricane would have been nice!
The weather was a little dull which was a shame but that’s air shows – you make do with what you get given on the day – but at least the slower pace of the aircraft meant slower shutter speeds with lower ISO levels required. I tend to shoot the Canon 7D II on Shutter Priority with the shutter speed set to 1/320th or less, the lower the better really for getting the prop blur. The ISO is set to Auto and the aperture looks after itself. Focus was set to AI Servo and on an expanded centre point. Lens used was a Sigma 150 – 600 Contemporary which I quite like for this kind of thing. One thing I did find was that panning the camera was quite difficult in the close confines of the seating area, something to think about next time.
After the show it took us about 3 minutes to get out of the car park and onto the M11 for the equally traffic free drive home! The Gold Pass does make a difference in terms of parking!