Defford Airfield Heritage Weekend opened on Saturday 14th September with a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows over Croome Park.
In the afternoon, the Lancaster of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight drew a huge crowd with a series of fly around and passes over Croome Park.
The event was organised jointly by the Defford Airfield Heritage Group in conjunction with the National Trust as part of the National Heritage Open Weekend.
Record numbers of visitors explored the site, learning about the history of RAF Defford, ‘The Secret Airfield’ in Croome Park. Michael Smith, the National Trust property manager, estimated that nearly 3000 people had arrived by mid-morning, and many more people came and went after that.
Between thrilling to the Red Arrows and enjoying the spine-tingling sound of the Lancaster and its four Merlin engines, visitors inspected the nose section of Canberra WK128, back at Croome after more than 50 years. They witnessed the largest gathering for some years of RAF Defford veterans, who came to be reunited with the Canberra jet bomber in which they had flown and on which they had worked, prior to the closure of the airfield in 1957. Many of them were present thanks to the appeal in The Evesham Observer for veterans who remembered the Canberra to come forward.
Also on show was the nose section of the Hunter XF383 jet fighter, with cockpit open for inspection, and displays including the ‘RAF Re-enactors’ with their Battle of Britain style dispersal tents, and RAF Regiment Bren gun emplacement.
Veterans and World War Two aviation enthusiasts appreciated the marquee displays telling the incredible story of the achievements of scientists and airmen at RAF Defford in developing airborne radar in Croome Park.
Amongst the displays was the Merlin engine from the Spitfire of Group Captain John McDonald, the commanding officer of RAF Defford. He was forced to bale out of the Spitfire in 1945, but on Saturday his son Michael was present to view this memento of his father’s flying career.
All in all, the most successful event!
Many thanks to all the volunteers and enthusiasts who gave their time and energy over the weekend to make it a memorable event.