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Chocs away for historic display

PUBLISHED: 14:39 09 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

IT started – as most good ideas do – with a

reckless suggestion.

Businessman John Anderson had helped organise a Mustang fighter flypast for a group of

visiting American war veterans and seeing the aircraft cut through the sky above Suffolk had him

yearning for more.

IT started – as most good ideas do – with a

reckless suggestion.

Businessman John Anderson had helped organise a Mustang fighter flypast for a group of

visiting American war veterans and seeing the aircraft cut through the sky above Suffolk had him

yearning for more.

"In one of those horrendous moments I thought about the possibility of getting a runway back here," said the 58-year-old whose home touches the edge of the old United States Army Airforce

airfield at Raydon.

Two years on and the skies above the wartime airfield, once home to the Mustangs and Thunderbolts of the 353rd Fighter Group, roared again with the sound of aircraft.

Seven years on and Mr Anderson together with Archie Car-michael, 76, and Erik Ellis, 48, are preparing for their third

show together.

Raydon Wings is billed as the premier air show in East Anglia. Visitors can see at intimate close quarters aircraft from all over the country as they take off and land from the runway, built parallel to the original.

Mr Carmichael of Upper Street, Stratford St Mary, said: "It's an old fashioned show where you can almost touch the aircraft. At other shows they keep you away from them but it's more personal here. We're operating in a fairly

restricted area so people can really feel a part."

The air show this year has a theme of nostalgia, fun and romance. The trio wants to create an intimate garden fete

atmosphere, and as well as wartime crafts such as the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mustang and Thunderbolt visitors can enjoy a selection of classic cars.

Vehicles from the golden age of car manufacturing will include the Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar and to keep people in the mood a miniature steam train ride be among the other attractions.

It will not be all misty-eyed

nostalgia however. Mr Carmichael, who spent 30 years in the RAF, retiring in 1974 as a Squadron Leader has seen to it that there will be some modern aircraft on site to keep the show bang up to date.

Among the stars to take flight on September 1 will be The Hawk TI, advanced jet trainer and a special package from the United States Airforce should hold some

delightful surprises.

"It's quite a logistical experience to run a show that is good and safe," said Mr Anderson. "We start thinking about the next show as soon as the last one is over. We have to think very seriously before we make a commitment to

go ahead."

Aside from Mr Carmichael, nobody in the group had

experience of running an air show before the first took flight in 1997.

They meet in a portable building on the site of the airfield, lashed by snow in winter and baked by the

sun in summer, to plan the shows – one every two years.

"There are times when it does get a bit stressful but we organise well so it's a reasonable automatic situation," admits Mr Anderson, who leads the trio in their venture.

"The stress peaks just before the show when we look at the weather forecast, which can make or break the event, but by that time there is little we can do."

However much they organise, the show would simple not go ahead without the support of

people in the area. Much of the land is owned by three local

farmers who give their consent for the show to take place and at least a 100 people from Raydon and

surrounding villages give their time freely to help out.

The aim this year is to raise enough money that all costs can be covered with some left over to donate to local charities.

"Because we are all working people we rely an awful lot on help from friends and people in the

villages," said Mr Anderson.

Among the attractions at this year's air show on September 1 will be the return of 'Sally B', the B17 Flying Fortress and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

WEBLINK:

www.raydonwings.com

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