24th-25th May 2009 – The Swift Team have just completed an 350 mile aerotow across the English Channel to land at Goch-Asperden airfield on the German boarder, with close fighter support offered by Peter Wells in the Twister. We were intercepted by a curious RF4 motorglider over Belgium, but exercised restraint and did not engage.
We displayed first at “Volkel in der Wolken,” a festival on the outskirts of Volkel City which includes an afternoon flying programme. Volkel is home to a Royal Netherlands Air Force base which houses F-16 Fighting Falcons and is currently the home base for the Dutch F-16 Demo Team.
Volkel’s Flying Display Director, Hans van der Werf (an ex F-104 Starfighter display pilot) could not have been more helpful, meeting us at Goch and coordinating hangar space for the glider to escape the overnight storms. Show day started clear and bright and Pawnee pilot Paul Moslin lead Guy Westgate (Swift) and Peter Wells (Twister) across the border to Volkel. We flew our normal show profile, and landed the glider back at the airbase after the last low pass.
Three and a half hours of aerotowing later we were crossing the longest pleasure pier in the world for our second display of the day at Southend. Although technically possible to release the Swift and fly a glider solo, it would not be sensible or viable to transit over the dense housing between the seafront and airport.. Instead we performed our “Seaside Profile”, with trademark Twister Corkscrew and Roll-on-Tow manoeuvres, a full Twister solo with a final team flypast.
The Southend Festival of the Air is the new name for the Airshow reflecting that the event is part of a series of different summer festivals. After two years of poor weather the sun shone for the whole weekend attracting record crowds of 500,000 people, and the forecast storms for Bank Holiday Monday did not effect the show. The Swift Team opened the airshow on the second day before the Twister zipped up to the Midlands for two more private displays to complete 11 hours of flying and 5 displays.
Thanks must go to Mike Newman for driving almost 900 miles to support our European adventure, and Paul Johnson who covered both venues for Flightline UK.