An interesting day at Duxford today, starting out with some rather horrible weather - just 6 degrees, wet and rather damp! Luckily, after a rather miserable two hours staking out my place on the crowdline, the weather abated just in time for the start of the flying display, and we even had some sun! The rain started again just as the last aircraft touched down - you can't ask for better timing than that.
Today's flying display was in a single block of around 80 minutes - considerably less than the usual pair of hour-long flying displays on a Showcase Day. This was in part due to some unfortunate last-minute cancellations that were by no means IWM's fault, such as late-running maintenance and one pilot suddenly needing to self-isolate. Luckily, IWM went all out when booking heavy warbirds, and despite the short duration, we still saw more aircraft taking part in the flying display than usual.
The show started with James Hepnar in his Extra 300L, who has improved his display since August with a few flick rolls and other new manoeuvres. This was followed by a rather disappointing "radial trio" featuring the DHC-2 Beaver, T-6 Harvard and NA-64 Yale. After several formation passes, the trio filled the rest of their slot with an odd and rather lethargic tailchase-esque sequence, which completely failed to show off any of the aircraft in a photogenic or exciting way.
This was followed by a rather enjoyable trio of Hispano Buchon "Yellow 10", P-51D Mustang "Miss Helen" and TF-51D Mustang "Contrary Mary". Starting with a formation topside pass, the Buchon then peeled off and performed a short solo display before being set upon by the two Mustangs, which I mostly failed to capture because I am a div and forgot to press the record button. After this came a solo from Peter Kuypers in the Bell 47, and another disappointing combination (this time, Catalina and Dragon Rapide in loose formation). While a nice idea on paper perhaps, this slot offered neither the chance to capture both aircraft in close formation, nor the chance to see their much more impressive solo routines. Perhaps instead of allocating the pair ten minutes to display in formation, the FDD could have given them 15 minutes - five in formation, and five each for a solo. This would have shown off the aircraft much better, with minimal extra effort, and would have helped string out the flying display to a more typical duration.
Fortunately, the final act of the day more than made up for these shortcomings, as a trio of Spitfire Mk.Ias, Hurricane Mk.I and Hurricane Mk.XIIa took off for their display. Starting with some wonderful 5-ship passes in close formation, the aircraft then spaced out for a wonderful tailchase sequence. One of the Spitfires then performed a short solo routine while the other aircraft came into land. This is how to stage a multi-aircraft set-piece - not what we saw in some of the other slots!
On the way home, I decided to try something out that looked possible on Google Maps and which I've been meaning to try for a while: I walked to Whittlesford Parkway and took the train home. I did this with some trepedation, as I haven't seen anyone do this before and am not aware of it being suggested or recommended anywhere (IWM themselves don't suggest walking from Whittlesford Parkway, instead recommending a public bus which only runs a few times each day). The approximately 2km walk was entirely on paved footpaths and quiet country roads, and took me 28 minutes precisely. The only obsticle is that you have to cross two motorway slip roads, but aside from revealing serious shortcomings in drivers' ability to use their indicators properly on roundabouts, this didn't seem particularly challenging or dangerous as long as you've got your wits about you. I know there are plenty of Americans on this forum, some of whom are planning a UK trip at some point, and who don't want to drive over here. On the basis of today, I'd suggest you consider walking from Whittlesford Parkway station (which is connected every half-hour by trains to London - a one hour journey with return tickets starting at around £15) as a reliable and extremely doable alternative to the airshow's shuttle bus services.
I've linked a video of the Spitfire and Hurricane sequence, which I hope you'll think is worth a watch!