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Posted on Jul 26, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Farnborough International Airshow 2006

A J Summersgill

Two of the loudest planes on the scene – a Panavia Tornado hurtles down the runway, flames belching from its engines, whilst a Saab Gripen throws itself around above us.

Click here for some brief video footage of another Tornado taking off (approx 3.21MB).

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And, still holding the record (in my ears, at least) for the loudest thing i have ever heard anywhere, ever, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. I love the looks of this plane, it’s amazing to think that it’s now a relatively old design, it still looks as god as ever, and is being constantly upgraded.

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Coming in to land…

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And now for something completely different – this beautiful PBY Catalina was absolutely gorgeous in her white livery. Effortlessly gliding around the sky, this plane wins my award for best-looking on the day. Yes, it even beats the Lancaster…simply because I hadn’t seen one flying before (don’t worry, I expect I’ll award the prize to the Lancaster next time).

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Another change of scene, a Merlin Helicopter thunders over, performing a number of incredible stunts.

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At one stage, a crewman even stood on the rear opened hatch and waved as the pilot threw the helicopter around – this would not have been a good time for his safety harness to snap…

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This next plane however has to be seen to be believed. This Russian Mig 29 OVT in stunning red livery and star wins my prize for the most acrobatic plane I’ve ever seen. The skilled pilot was able to climb the plane, stall it in mid-air, where it seemed t hang as if from a string, and then flip the plane over by 360 degrees, twice, before re-engaging the engines and thundering away. It was absolutely incredible.

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Click here for some brief video footage of the MiG performing a double backflip (approx 3.24MB).

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And so was this, did you know that it was possible for a plane towing an unpowered Fox Glider to perform aerobatics? Well you do now. With glider still attached on the tow rope, these two pilots were able to loop and twist through the sky like they were two separate planes flying in formation. If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I’d never have believed it.

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With the weather easing, but still no sun, we began to near the end of the day with a performance by the Blue Eagles. Flying four Gazelle helicopters and one Lynx, the Blue Eagles acted out some very graceful manoeuvres above us, flying in formation, performing splits and sequenced dives and arcs.

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At one point, the lead helicopter, the Lynx, flew backward leading two Gazelles across the line of the runway – all in perfect symmetry. It reminded me of a mother duck herding her young.

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