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Hi all, we are now a couple of months into the new display season and there are certainly some changes in our little airshow world. The tentacles of the Shoreham tragedy have spread into every facet of our working lives as display pilots. These changes have impacted at almost every regulatory level and leave deep impressions upon both the spectacle from an audience perspective, plus for display pilots such as myself, changes both actual and perceived. The first show of the year was on the 1st May at Abingdon, where Neil and his team put on a super show year after year, raising funds for charity. This was the season opener but was run under the auspices of the MAA (Military) as Abingdon is an MOD property. Whilst the MAA rules mirror the CAA in most areas, there are some differences, too boring to discuss in these pages. Display distances have moved out to 230 metres on the main “A” axis and there are new restrictions on the so called “B” axis, or vectors towards the crowd. In fact, at one show, any manoeuvres with a crowd vector were banned, here the FDD going even further than the new CAA mega rule changes, so that meant a wholesale alteration of my display that particular day. The brief at Abingdon was the usual professional one from FDD John Davis, a really experienced operator who takes no crap on his watch. For the memory was that feeling in my stomach, that uneasy feeling that all eyes were on us display pilots waiting for us to trip over, to be 10 feet inside the display line, or straying just a few metres over the car park edge or God forbid, flying over a living thing, occupied dwelling, caravan, factory, tent, etc etc. I had the feeling all that day, that the world was against us display boys and that the fun had gone out of this activity, this passion that I have so enjoyed over the last 16 seasons. What had been accepted in the past, before Andy pilled in at Shoreham, was now “verboten”. For instance, I always used to nibble the edge of the car park to produce those lovely arcing topsides that the snappers so enjoyed. If you were in an upward trajectory and did perchance fly over a house or small built up area, close to the display, then largely, being over 500 feet and angled away, even the CAA said “fair enough” but not anymore. You old son, are flying a Permit to Fly aircraft and thou shalt not overfly any built up area…end of. So that first day, I looked ever so carefully at the airfield map, at Google Earth and took in as much information as I could, in spite of the fact that I had displayed at Abingdon many, many times but this is the new world friends. I identified vast areas around the site that were not possible to fly over, Abingdon town the nearby A road, lots of hamlets and buildings and was left with very limited choice to get that display in the P40 done at all The best solution was largely to stay within the airfield boundary, where I was protected by the rules, had no chance to upset anyone BUT that meant a very tight show in a 300 mph fighter and much increased G forces to get her around the patch. Yes we got it done and perhaps the public did not see too much difference but for me, it was very different and not a lot of fun to be honest. Following week was the first CAA regulated show of the year and it was a biggie, the season opener at Old Warden. This show was the first occasion where the Red Arrows had been at Old Warden for 25 years was it and so the focus was on this one and who was the “sap” who was the first act, the show opener…me of course. I had not attended the brief that morning as it was my Granddaughter’s birthday that Sunday and nothing was more important than that, so I had flown up to Old Warden during the week and “Dodge Bailey” the Chief pilot had been kind enough to brief me personally. There have been a ‘lorra’ changes and some that have gone beyond the new CAA imposed changes but I fully respect Dodge and his standpoint and I was eager to fully comply. Alterations to distances, radically altered display lines, additional avoids and a re-iteration of the rules in terms of overflying the local villages, that to be fair in the past had not been an issue. The boss asked me to be squeaky clean and as I ran into slot at 14.00 sharp to open their 2016 season, I felt a very heavy weight of responsibility as I surveyed the largest crowd I had ever seen at Old Warden, a sell-out 7000+ I hear. The display was as briefed, I made it the best spectacle I could within the rules as laid down , I avoided every “avoid”, village, person vessel, hedge and all the rest and got it done . Did I enjoy the display like old times, no I can say I didn’t really and as I landed on with a strong southerly crosswind across the runway gusting 18 kts, there was a sigh of relief really that I had not heard a “STOP, STOP “ nor upset anyone. Not nice when you feel that way but I that is how I felt to be frank and why should I not be honest, no one keeps me and I am not a shy person! After a flight up to Yorkshire the following weekend in the P40 for a lovely wedding display it was time for Dover Castle. Well, I could bore you for hours on bloody Dover, OMG what a drama the CAA gave me on these three displays over the May Bank holiday weekend. Same gig last year, I got my permission from the CAA no worries, I flew lovely safe set of displays along a perfectly safe display line, no one was killed, or otherwise maimed and thousands of folks at the Castle had a wonderful sight of Spitfire and Hurricane looping and swooping over the Kent hillside. Now roll onto 2016, the new enlightened world and I find out barely a week prior to the show that the display line from last year was no longer acceptable, my permission rejected, displays all were toast!. I was offered an alternative display line but over the harbour and that was subject to the agreement of the Dover Harbour master. Having already undertaken a lengthy risk assessment, Police engagement, Local authority engagement and risk assessment and Coast guard contact, now I had to start again and enter into a dialog with a very reluctant and sceptical Dover harbour authority. With a few days to go, I completed another paperwork exercise, asked my client English heritage to leverage their relationship with the DPA and that all fell over, as why would they want me flying over their port on the busiest weekend of the year with lots of ferries and cruise ships in harbour…who could blame them, they said “Non” of course, bound to really. So back to the CAA and they finally offered me a display line that was at the closest 1200 metres from the Castle and at the furthest over 2000 metres away. I gave my client the chance to cancel but to their credit they agreed and finally, after yet another revised risk assessment I got the permission a day prior to the show, with to be fair every effort from the guys at CAA , who are doing their best to manage a “pigs ear” of a set of rules. I got the displays done in a good old mates Spitfire MK IX as ours was off line, so thanks to Pete Monk at Heritage Biggin for lending me the Spirit of Kent, which I had last flown in 2006 ,so my log book tells me. The display line was faaaaar away, couple of bloody great aerials between me and the crowd plus the weather was less than brilliant on two of the three days but we got I done and the client was pleased but again, Shoreham is playing havoc with our lives Next came our beloved Biggin Hill airshow, not the “Biggin Hill International Air fair” as we are used to but a scaled down version, whilst Colin, Bill, and Barry, carefully build up momentum again for this historic event. The issue of course is the site that has a road running along the end of the runway and several other challenges to meet the new CAA regs. The show was smaller than the old days but nevertheless had quality acts and was well supported. The CAA permission was restrictive and set a number of really tough challenges for the FDD and pilots alike. Amongst these were no flight under 200 feet over the southern end of the display line and that had to be in “non aerobatic” flight (less than 89 degrees of bank) Then literally yards away from the main display line a whole area of buildings, that during previous shows, we all flew directly over, were now deemed to be “not below 1000 feet “. Then the valley and the village itself at just to the left of the main runway were no go at all at any height, necessitating a sharp turn to avoid. But the best one of all was the CAA (bless) banning all aerobatic manoeuvres outside the airfield boundary ….WHAT? The rules of the air allow you to fly over an open space, at minimum 500 feet above and undertake an aerobatic manoeuvre. That is enshrined in the rules of the air (rule 5) but that weekend the CAA said if you want permission to run this show then this is how it is. So no Derry turns, steep turns, half Cuban or other recognised aerobatic method to turn back towards the display line, just a turn at less than 89 degrees of bank, which uses a lot of sky in a high speed warbird. The weather was a challenge and the display line hard but again we got it done and the show was a big success but for me personally fun, hmmm far less than in past years if I am honest. Is there a pattern building here, one of the fun being squeezed out of our weekends? I’ll cease the airshow stories now to mention the roll out of our wonderful P51 Mustang in her new original wartime colours, which we did in association with Neil Cave's Timeline Events. As many of you will have seen photos already, her true and original wartime identity was revealed on 4th June at North Weald, when we rolled her out the real “Tall In The Saddle” an original 332nd Fighter Group, 99th Fighter Squadron P51D Mustang. A rare “Red Tail” and that day was marvellous as the hard work of the entire Hangar 11 team was finally revealed and rewarded. This aircraft has a fantastic wartime provenance having been shipped from the North American factory at Inglewood California in the summer of 1944, flown to the west coast and then shipped by sea to southern Italy, USAF code name “OHAM” to join the 332nd Fighter Group at Ramatelli Airfield. There she served with the Tuskegee Airmen, undertaking bombing missions and escort missions of B17 Bombers over occupied territory. During these missions “A33” was flown by a 19 year old pilot George Hardy. Last having flown her in April 1945, we are delighted, amazed, excited to tell you that Colonel George Hardy is now a spritely 91 year old and living a great life in Florida USA. We have been in constant contact with George and with Craig the 332nd historian and they have been of great assistance in ensuring that George’s aircraft was accurately re-painted as he knew her last in 1945. We have invited Colonel Hardy to the UK later this year to be re-united with his beloved A33 and we are planning a lot of activities surrounding this unique event. What a story, sat back in the cockpit after 71 years, wow More details when we have them firm but expect lots of media interest. I have lots more to tell you but run out of energy. I will close this article with a photo of Tall In The Saddle taken last week at 6000 feet over Essex. I was flying of course, and Darren Harbar was the photographer - a fine job we both did if I may say so Feast on this for now, but more next time and in the September issue of Flypast magazine! Fly safe Peter