In 2020 Aerobility launched their first ArmChair Airshow, bringing the world of flying displays and aviation into the homes of many across the globe. The aim of the first event was not just about putting aviation on the screens of enthusiasts during the pandemic, but the key factor was to raise money for the charity, ensuring it's survival through the C19 Pandemic. If you’re not aware of the work of Aerobility, it is a charity formed to provide flying opportunities for those with disabilities, whether overt or hidden and is a world leader in its various programmes and approaches.
The idea of holding another virtual airshow for 2021, based on the success of 2020 gained additional momentum, when London Biggin Hill Airport joined the team, providing a venue and support to host the 2021 edition. The event was a huge leap forward in delivery, with a full production set, aircraft, pre-recorded and live content, including live flying displays as part of the production. Biggin Hill is famous for its history, but also it's own airshows, which were seen as leaders in the UK Airshow community in their time, so to stage the event at Biggin Hill was a great nod to the past. A range of industry sponsors and organisations again got behind the project to help drive it forward.
Content was gained from across the world, with North American airshow legend Patty Wagstaff joining the production with an interview with host Jon Windover. The RCAF Snowbirds opened the show with an interview and exclusive content from their 2021 display, with former Red Arrows and now Blades Pilot Mike Ling. Founding pilot of the Hellenic Air Force F16 Zeus Demo Team, Manolis Karahalios, joined to talk about starting the team and talked through the early days of one of the favourite European displays.
Live Action was provided by the RAF's BBMF Dakota to open the flying display, followed by a Spitfire Display in the capable hands of Dan Griffiths, a type of aircraft linked to Biggin Hill in many different ways. Rich Goodwin appeared in G-JPIT, his new Muscle Pitts, which in time will become the only Pitts S2S to be fitted with a pair of Jet Engines, placing a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Rich’s routine always impresses with his high energy unlimited aerobatic routine, challenging physics throughout. Closing the live displays was Tim Dews, with a more sedate, but elegant display with the Grob 109. Tim's routine featured a daytime version of his twilight pyro show, a fully aerobatic routine, using various coloured smokes pods on the wingtips, with the Thank You NHS logo under the wing, shining brightly in the glorious may sunshine.
Whilst we would all like to get out to more events, times are still uncertain in the events world, which lends itself to the virtual airshow idea. One great opportunity it provides, is the chance to interview those in the airshow industry, but also the wider aviation world to look at current, future and of course the historic elements. The show featured a great mix from the B-17 to the English Electric Lightning, whilst delving into the work of the charity. Elements which during a live airshow are challenging to include to the same effect.
The full 2021 production can be found by visiting www.armchairairshow.com and if you would like to support by making a donation to ensure their amazing work continues, there if information on exactly how you can do it! Here is looking to 2022!