The early 2010 May Bank Holiday saw the 11th Abingdon Air & Country Show and the 5th year that we had joined them on the old Abingdon airfield now the home of the Army and re-named Dalton Barracks. Each year the event has gone from strength to strength and this year, after the glorious weather in April – one of the driest on record – we were hoping for a bumper show.
Unfortunately, neither the weather nor the MOD had read the script. Whilst the weather on the Saturday when we were setting up had us in T-shirts hoping that the forecasters were going to be wrong – it has been known – we did learn from the show’s organisers that the MOD were not allowing planes to use the runway; something they had only learned a couple of days before.
This directive would almost wipe out the planned static aircraft display and also affect those aerial display planes which were planning to land and take off as part of their display. Months of planning and organisation goes into a show of this nature and to receive such a body blow at the last minute is soul destroying and we have every sympathy with Andy, Neil and the rest of the show’s hard-working organising team with whom we’ve been working during the past 5 years. The news required a lot of last minute ‘phone calls to make the best of the situation including the reprinting of the Show Programme which became available at 9.30am on show day; a great effort.
The day of the event saw the forecast rain appear and it was cold, but, as they say, “the show must go on!” AWC organiser, Mike Lamb had arranged two road runs to the show, one from Aylesbury and the other from Reading, and the Arden MG Club had arranged one from Evesham. Prior to Show day, indications from Mike were that we should be welcoming a record number of cars this year, but how would the weather affect this? From just before 10.00, the Marshals, dressed suitably to combat the cold wind and rain – an airfield is not the place to be in such conditions – saw the steady trickle of cars grow into a more regular flow which, as time passed, developed into a unbroken line of cars of all ages driving through the entrance.
Clearly MG drivers were not going to be put off by a bit of bad weather and I think that resolve is admirably demonstrated by the 80-year old driver who made a round trip of 60 miles in a 75-year old car without a hood to be there! Our arena played host to over 300 cars ranging from 1929 to 2010 including some Rileys, the RM model of which was built in Abingdon. We were also delighted to welcome a group of 13 cars from Norway and two Midgets from Holland, as well as an Australian couple, although they didn’t bring their MG with them! Most MG models were represented and it was particularly pleasing to see a good collection of Magnettes, a Metro and a Maestro amongst those assembled.
The weather always plays a large part in an air show and the absence of the Battle of Britain memorial flight grounded at RAF Coningsby due to cross-winds, disappointed many. However, there were still aerial displays from aircraft powered by propellers, jets and those without any at all as demonstrated by the gliders of the Swift Aerobatic Team! Everyone will have their own personal favourites with the evocative sounds of the D-Day decorated Dakota, the sheer size of the C-17 Globemaster, the controlled power of the VC-10, the jet-powered agility of the Hawk, Hunter and Vampire and the turbo-prop displays from the T28 Fennac and Tucano all having their own fans. For many, the star in the air was the Dutch F-16 which was fast and noisy as the pilot put it through its paces as the finale of the aerial display.
Whilst the weather did have an impact on people attending the show, both traders and members of the public, it certainly didn’t deter the MG drivers and we saw our largest gathering to date. This will ensure a sizable donation to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and we very much appreciate the support everyone attending has shown by braving the elements to be there. Our thanks to the Arden MG Club for their part in the day and the main MG Car Club for their co-operation. Finally, thanks to our man, Mike Lamb, for his work in pulling the day together.
Text: Richard Martin. Photos: Martin Woods, Pete Davies & Richard Martin.