Video and photo gallery: Staggering sights on offer at this year’s Old Buckenham Airshow
09:34 25 March 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
It was the choice of the Hollywood elite in its heyday, the plane of choice by aeroracers, and used by the Americans during World War Two, and the Staggerwing has now been revealed as one of the stars set to take to the skies in this year’s Old Buckenham Airshow.
The Beechcraft Model D17S Staggerwing will be among more than 20 aircraft - including the previously announced Spitfire - involved in this year’s two-day aviation extravaganza.
The show, for which the EDP is media partner, is on July 26 and 27 and organisers are hoping it will be the biggest and best yet with crowds of about 5,000 people on both days.
Pilot Nigel Willson, who will be flying the Staggerwing that is owned by Geoff Lynch, said: “Staggerwing mainly originated in the States. It was built as an executive aeroplane, designed around the 1930s.
“This is a 1943 example. They are very rare now, especially in the UK, there’s only three of them in the UK so we are very fortunate to have one here at the Old Buckenham Airshow.
Some of the stars of the 2014 Old Buckenham Airshow
• Unusual plane was born in the USA
The Beechcraft Model D17S Staggerwing is an American biplane that first flew in 1932 and its design places its lower wing further forward than its upper wing.
In its heyday it was the choice of the Hollywood elite and aeroracers and it was used in World War Two by the US for executive transport and courier duties.
Just 70 Staggerwings remain in a flyable condition, of which few are outside America.
The Staggerwing on show at Old Buckenham - N9405H - was originally built in 1943 and saw service in the USAAF during World War Two before being returned to civilian service. The aircraft flew to Europe in the 1980s, has been based in the UK for the last six years, and is now based at Old Buckenham Airfield.
It has a 450 horsepower engine, six fuel tanks and a range of 1,500 miles. It can climb 1,400 feet a minute, operate at 26,000 feet and fly at a speed of 212mph.
• Magnificent men in their flying machines
Wildcat Aerobatics are Old Buckenham’s home based display team.
The team includes Al Coutts, who learned to fly in Swaziland in 1992 and has since then won multiple aerobatic competitions, and Willie Cruickshank, a former fast jet pilot who was one of the last commanding officers of RAF Coltishall.
They fly Pitts Special Biplanes, an aircraft which was first flown in 1944, dominated world aerobatic competition in the 1960s and 1970s, and is described as still being one of the world’s leading high performance aerobatic biplanes.
Also part of the Wildcat Aerobatics team is David Jenkins with his Edge aircraft. David, a British advanced aerobatic champion, has won over 40 medals in aerobatics competitions and has represented Great Britain in European and World aerobatic championships.
“I will be displaying the Staggerwing over the two days so hopefully you will get to see it in the air and you will see how graceful it is and very quick for its year.”
The Wildcat Aerobatics formation display team are also part of the 2014 show, and the team will be entertaining the crowds with their vast array of stunts.
“The planes that we fly are Pitts Specials. They are American-designed back in the 1940s believe it or not, but still flying today. We have four of them as part of our Wildcat display team. We will be displaying two of them at the Old Buckenham Air Show in July as well as an Edge,” said Willie Cruickshank, one of the Wildcat Aerobatics pilots.
“We will do looping manoeuvres and barrel rolls, anything that looks fairly dynamic. We come down as low as 50 feet and go up as high as about 2,000 feet.”
Fellow Wildcat Aerobatics pilot Al Coutts added: “At the air show there will be the two Pitts Specials and the British national aerobatic champion David Jenkins in his Edge and we take it in turns to be centre of the show, so part of the time David’s in the front of the crowd doing his stuff and then we loop and zoom around him.
“We have somewhere in our repertoire a heart so for all the young couples they can see a heart in the sky. David comes through the heart with his monoplane and pierces it like an arrow, so that’s quite exciting.”
Old Buckenham Airshow organiser Matt Wilkins said he was delighted with how this year’s show was coming together, and that as well as lots of treats for aviation fans there would also be military history displays and great food for people to enjoy.
“We are trying to build on a decade’s worth of Old Buckenham Airshows...and this year we are bringing together some of the best pilots in the world and some of the most unique and interesting aircraft in the world along with a world record attempt.
“We are calling it the Norfolk air show for the second year running. It’s the largest air show in Norfolk, probably one of the largest in the east of England.”
He said there was lots more still to be revealed in the run-up to the show.
“We have got the key acts in the form of the Spitfire, the Staggerwing and so forth and we are now working on how many different and interesting things we can pack in,” he said.
“One of the other great things about this airshow is you can actually get into an aircraft and go flying yourself. We have a 1943 Boeing Stearman, for example, that you can go up in. There will also be a helicopter and a Piper PA aircraft, so not only can you come and see the aircraft flying around the place, you can fly in one yourself!”
At the show aviator Brendan O’Brien will also be attempting the world record for the shortest truck top landing, a feat he narrowly missed out on in 2013.
The Old Buckenham Airshow 2014 is on July 26 and 27 at Old Buckenham Airfield near Attleborough.
Tickets for Saturday are £10, for Sunday £15, and for both days £20.
For more information visit www.oldbuckenhamairshow.co.uk.