It's customary for those celebrating birthdays, especially milestone birthdays (for my own personal safety I'm not going to reveal which one!), to be the receiver of lavish gifts, not the bearer. However, this is Breighton and things very often don't happen as you'd expect them to! Tony Smith's birthday present to all was the airfield's most ambitious airshow to date and the sun drenched crowds simply lapped it up!

Pictures © realaero.com unless credited otherwise.

The final touches to the line-up were fettled just a week before the event was due to take place, the last two 'acts' to confirm being the exceptional Red Bull Matador's and the Old Flying Machine Company's lovely Mk IX Spitfire. This rather special Spitfire was one half of an exceptional double-act that is no more following owner Ray Hannah's passing away earlier in the year. Ray had flown the aircraft since the 1970's and is widely regarded as being one of the finest Spitfire driver's to have ever lived, fitting then that the aircraft's arrival straight into the display on Saturday flown by OFMC's Alister Kay was one of gusto, charged with poignancy and much appreciated by all. Nigel Lamb took the reins on Sunday, alongside Tony Smith in the Buchon. The routine ended somewhat dramatically when the Buchon developed a carburetor fault necessitating a full throttle landing - happily Tony brought the aircraft and himself home safely.

(ABOVE) MH434 - probably the most famous Spitfire in the world. (BELOW) Sunday's tailchase (Ian Herbert).

The Fighter Collection, OFMC's neigbours at Duxford, brought along their Goodyear Corsair, a great big brute of an aeroplane that pilot AVM Cliff Spink flew with an agility totally belying its size - it dwarfed everything else on the flightline. Marvelous stuff.

TFC's Goodyear built Corsair on finals - compare these 'barn door' flaps with those on the Mew Gull pictured elsewhere in thie report!

(ABOVE) Rob Davies' Mustang 'Big Beautiful Doll' (Ian Herbert)

Frequent visitors to Breighton, Rob Davies and Maurice Hammond, each brought their P-51 Mustang's and T-6's to the show, both types being flown in paired routines that were punchy, noisy and tight - the Mustang's haunting trademark whine much in evidence as they climbed and dived due to the air-flow passing over the guns. The Mustangs also flew in formation with the resident Mew Gull piloted by Tony Smith - the laminar-flow trio? Who know's, but it was a real delight to see and hear.

(BELOW) The Mew Gull flanked by two P-51 Mustangs.

The ballsy T-6 routine flown by Rob Davies and Dave Evans comprised a delightful mix of tight paired passes and tail chases accompanied by the gut-wrenching rasp of the aircraft's propeller tips as they rip through the air at near supersonic speed, tormenting car alarms and ear drums alike!

Breighton's resident warbirds were also put through their paces, Mustang 'Susy' almost has its own fan club at Breighton and owner/pilot Tony Smith never disappoints with sweeping low-level 'strafing runs' punctuated by high level twisting turns and 'victory rolls' (one lucky so-and-so also got to go sight-seeing in the Mustang as a fortieth birthday treat!).

The Hurricane is another popular aircraft with enthusiasts and, seemingly for the first time in ages, pilot Brian Brown was afforded clear blue skies and sunshine for his polished display, a bonus for the dozens of photographers who, like me, have CD's full of black Hurricane shaped silhouettes set against leaden grey skies!!

Saturday's eagerly awaited debut public display at Breighton by the Buchon was rather less hairy than Sunday's and a real delight to see. The Buchon (a Spanish built version of the German Messerschmitt 109) is a physically demanding aircraft to fly because it isn't 'trimmed' like most aircraft of its calibre, as a result the controls can get quite heavy during display maneuvers and most of the high-speed twists and turns need to be flown with both hands firmly on the stick - not that any of that was obvious from Tony's display which was fast and low with plenty of topside to show off the aircraft's recently applied Luftwaffe markings.

(BELOW) The Buchon making a low, fast pass (Trevor Holmes)

It wasn't all warbirds at the Breighton airshow however. The halcyon days of flying were amply represented by numerous classic marques, some not often seen at air displays. The Aeronca C100 (see the very top of the page), Arrow Active II, Miles Magister and a DeHavilland Chipmunk were flown together, partaking of a little streamer cutting as they went, with Roy Nerou's lovely Chilton Monoplane joining in the fun on the Sunday. But it was another great name from Britain's aviation past that really captured the essence of that golden age, Percival. Once again, Mellisa Saggers and her friends from Biggin Hill brought their lovely aircraft all the way to Breighton - a Prentice, a Vega Gull and a Proctor - just to keep the Mew Gull company! Thoroughly brilliant!

(BELOW) Percival Proctor and (BOTTOM) Percival Prentice)

Last year the Real Aeroplane Company were invited to take part in the filming of the soon-to-be-released movie 'Flyboy's', a film that charts the exploits of a group of American airmen during the Great War. Some of the aircraft involved in that production performed a typical scenario from the movie during the show, complete with smoke and machine gun sound-effects. With the 'good-GUY' in his Nieuport out numbered four to one the outcome was a foregone conclusion, the evil Baron Von Brown delighting in victory in his DR1 Triplane despite boo's and hisses from the crowd - pure pantomime!

(TOP - Trevor Holmes) After seeing off a pair of Junkers, the Nieuport Fighter is bounced by Baron Von Brown who (MIDDLE) quickly despatches the lone scout and takes the spoils (BOTTOM - Trevor Holmes). One suspects that the Tripe might defect at the end of this mission!

There were some delightful aerobatics flown during the weekend. Traditional 'boot and rudder' aero's with lots of grace, sophistication and energy management such as those flown by Tony Smith and Brian Brown in the Jungmeisters, and the precision dare-devilry of the Red Bull Matador's team of pilots, Steve Jones and Paul Bonhomme, in their state-of-the-art Sukhoi's. The Matador's held the crowd spellbound - it really was a case of 'you wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it!', with aircraft flying sideways - or backwards - literally inches from each other; flying that actually defied the laws of flying! Breathtaking!

(ABOVE) The Percival Mew Gull recovering - quite a high approach to leave enough room for the two P-51's following. (BELOW) No, I don't think I'd want to mess with this one...! (BOTTOM) 'Achtung! Spitfeur!!'

(BELOW) Mustangs, T-6's and one of a number of re-enactors present on the airfield, this one didn't say very much.

(ABOVE) The Jungmeister's run in for their aerobatic sequence with Brian Brown flying the Swiss marked aircraft and Tony Smith flying the German marked example. (BELOW) It's a Mewstang!

(ABOVE) The Matadors in full swing (Ian Herbert)

And that was the 2006 Breighton Airshow. Can't wait to do it all over again!

Thanks to Ian Herbert and Trevor Holmes for their excellent pictures. Thanks also to everyone who made the trip over to Breighton, all the participating pilots and aircraft owners, to Brian Newbold for his entertaining and informative commentary, The Real Aeroplane Company, Club members and volunteers - all of whom helped to make the whole thing happen. (And special thanks to the lady selling those Ribena popsicles - a life saver!!)

[ UPDATE!! More pictures from the show - CLICK HERE! ]