'Magnificent men and women in their flying machines': 30 pilots from across the UK put on Fenland aerobatics show

PUBLISHED: 11:31 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:31 15 June 2018

Extra 200, G-EEEK, flown by Sharon Wang. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Extra 200, G-EEEK, flown by Sharon Wang. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Alastair Goodrum

Magnificent men and women in their flying machines thrilled dozens of spectators in glorious sunshine at Fenland Airfield, Holbeach St Johns last Sunday (June 10).

Chinese competitor Sharon Wang (left) talks ‘shop’ to another pilot, while a cameraman looks on. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumChinese competitor Sharon Wang (left) talks ‘shop’ to another pilot, while a cameraman looks on. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Opened to the public free of charge, Fenland Aero Club played host to the latest round of the McAully, Fenland, Cavendish and Nathanial Alony Trophies aerobatic competition, organised by the British Aerobatics Association.

This three-day event was curtailed by poor flying conditions on Friday and Saturday but the low clouds rolled away on Sunday to give perfect conditions for the shortened programme on the final day.

In total, thirty pilots from all over the UK participated in the five sections of the competition, flying sleek, highly manoeuvrable aeroplanes to the delight of the watching crowd.

All eyes look skywards. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumAll eyes look skywards. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Thirteen of these fought for the prestigious McAully Trophy, which has been hotly contested every year since 1962, while seven more went head to head for the local Fenland Trophy.

One disappointed competitor was Sharon Zhaohuachen Wang, a young pilot now living in London; the only Chinese female, aerobatic pilot in the UK.

An aerobatics instructor and highly experienced in competitive flying, sadly Sharon Wang’s own Hungarian-made Yak-52 aeroplane developed an oil leak during practice.

Controlling the show. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumControlling the show. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

However, Sharon was able to borrow an Extra 200, G-EEEK and complete her aerobatics programme to come fifth in the McAully Trophy.

This trophy was won by Trevor Dugan flying a Pitts S2A, G-ISZA. The Fenland Trophy was won by Jez Burgoin flying another Pitts S2A, N-80035.

Sharon Wang’s flying reputation had turned her into a ‘film star’, as she was being shadowed by a Chinese state television crew who recorded her every move while enjoying being entertained by the club.

Something for all ages. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumSomething for all ages. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

When not flying Sharon was being filmed doing interviews and commentary for a Chinese TV documentary about how Chinese people living in England interacted with Western culture.

Given that there was so much flying to cram into the final day, Ray Nicholson in charge of the control tower team had a very busy time.

In his usual calm way, he dealt with competition aeroplanes taking off and landing every few minutes; ‘away-day’ visitors flying in for lunch or indeed to re-fuel their aircraft or guiding private aircraft flying through the airfield zone so that they did not stray into the aerobatic event.

CAP 231EX. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumCAP 231EX. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

The equally important task of keeping this influx of visitors fed and watered was in the capable hands of Katie Booth of OK Catering and her team.

Edge 360. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumEdge 360. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Pitts S-2A, N-80035, flown by the Fenland Trophy winner. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumPitts S-2A, N-80035, flown by the Fenland Trophy winner. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Pitts S-2A, G-ISZA, flown by Trevor Dugan, winner of the McAully Trophy. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumPitts S-2A, G-ISZA, flown by Trevor Dugan, winner of the McAully Trophy. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

Edge 540. Picture(s): Alastair GoodrumEdge 540. Picture(s): Alastair Goodrum

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