PittsPictures | Sally B & Her Little & Large Friends

Sally B & Her Little & Large Friends

On Sunday 31st July, a new concept was brought to the UK airshow scene in the form of the 'Sally B & Friends Day' at Duxford.

This event was created to celebrate and support the continued operation of Boeing B-17G 'Sally B' in her 66th year since production and 36th year displaying in the UK.

The day was not billed as an airshow, but as an informal day of flying for Sally B and a number of related aircraft from the same era of aviation as well as some more modern aircraft displays and a unique formation featuring Sally B and the two Silence Twisters of the SWIP Team.

Sally B was scheduled to fly three times throughout the afternoon starting with a solo display.

Due to the informal nature of the event, the solo display by Sally B was a lot different to what is normally flown at a typical airshow.

Next up was a formation of Sally B and her usual 'Little Friends', P-51D Mustang 'Ferocious Frankie' and Spitfire IX MH434,  before a very short pairs routine by the Spitfire and Mustang, which split into individual displays by each type.

Next on the list was a pairs routine by the De Havilland Dragon Rapide's of Classic Wings and Mark Miller, but this did not come to fruition.

Following on from the Spitfire & Mustang display was a rare appearance of the Italian desert schemed Fiat.G46

Once this display was complete, this signalled the end of the first flying period of the day, and allowed myself and Global Aviation Resource's Huw Hopkins to check out the entertainment by the Wing Co Joe's cafe.

The entertainment was provided in the form of a three piece vocal group by the name of the 'D-Day Darlings' based on the popular Andrew's Sisters.

The second flying sequence began with the awkwardly named SWIP Team, the name comes from the teams sponsors the 'Scottish Widows Investment Partnership'. The act consists of a tight formation display by a pair of Silence SA1100 Twisters.

More from these later...

Next up was an individual display by the Duke of Brabant Airforces UC-43 Traveller

This was followed by the first unique formation display of the day, which at the time I described as a 'Russian Doll of American Aircraft', with Sally B being followed in line astern by progressively smaller aircraft in the form of a C-47, Beech H-18 and UC-43.

This concluded the second instalment of flying.

During the scheduled break between flying, Classic Wing took advantage and crammed in several passenger flights with their fleet of Tiger Moths, Rapides and Harvard.

The later aircraft's passenger flight didn't go exactly to plan, with the undercarriage refusing to retract fully on takeoff, which led to some aerobatic manoeuvre's being carried out to force the undercarriage to unstick itself so that it could land safely. 

The rolls did not loosen the undercarriage, so the pilot requested a flyby of the tower so that the AFISO could check the status of the undercarriage and report back to the pilot.

After recycling the gear lever in the cockpit, the wheels retracted and then extended correctly, and after a final flyby for confirmation from the tower the Harvard landed safely with the Airfield Crash Tenders on standby.

The final flying section consisted of two spirited displays by John Romain and Mark Jefferies in the T-28 Fennec and Extra 330 respectively, followed by a final solo display by Sally B and the second unique formation of the day with the Twisters forming up on the wings of the Flying Fortress.

Once the final display flying had finished, Charlie Brown returned from a day flying HAC's Spitfire V over Dover for the Action Stations 'Fly with a Spitfire' event wearing a rather authentic looking life jacket which made it look as if he had just returned from a sortie against the Luftwaffe over the channel.

Hopefully I have provided a taster of the event, which has now been comprehensively covered by GAR's Huw Hopkins.