With less than one week to go until the world-famous Flying Legends airshow takes off at its new home of Leeds-East Airport, the show’s highly skilled pilots have been honing their skills in the squadrons of immaculately preserved ‘warbirds’ that will descend on the former RAF Church Fenton.
Independence Day, 4 July, saw two iconic Spitfire fighter aircraft visit Leeds-East Airport to test the specially prepared grass runway. One Spitfire, an example of an original Mark 1 which fought in the Battle of Britain in summer 1940, is painted to represent an aircraft of the ‘Eagle Squadrons’, the unit of American volunteers which first gathered at Church Fenton to fly with the Royal Air Force, before the United States officially entered the Second World War.
Jane Larcombe of The Fighter Collection, which stages the event, said: “As the first new major airshow to arrive in the North of England for many years, this year’s Flying Legends is one of the must-attend events of the summer. We are proud to be coming to Leeds-East, which played a significant role in Britain’s wartime defence as a frontline fighter base.
“Besides our loyal regulars, many of whom come from around the world every year to catch up with old friends and enjoy watching these fabulous aircraft display in their natural environment, we are excited to meet new visitors from Yorkshire and the surrounding region. We have something for all the family to enjoy and are looking forward to displaying here every July for many years to come.”
There has been an active airfield at Church Fenton since 1937 when it opened during the RAF’s massive pre-war expansion plan. It was designed as a fighter base from the start and charged with protecting Yorkshire and Humberside from attack by enemy bombers. Post-war, it became a training base for fledgling pilots until the final military aircraft left in 2013.
Leeds-East is centrally located in the UK, has excellent transport links and being far from any large airports means the airspace above is completely unrestricted, making it ideal for the kind of dynamic displays for which Flying Legends is renowned.
The first Flying Legends to take place at Leeds-East is due to be staged on 15-16 July 2023.
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