Sleap Show Report 2023
29th July - 30th July 2023
Shropshire Aero Club, Sleap Airfield, Harmer Hill, Shrewsbury SY4 3HE, UK
The route down to Sleap was an easy one for me as it was only 58 miles away taking the Runcorn Mersey Gateway crossing and down the m56 onto the A41 was a lovely drive, always love it when there is little motorway use, still am not dragging a caravan these days, well at least not yet. With the way this summer is going I feel that might change for 2024, if someone mention global warming to me this year, I will not be responsible for what I might reply. As I was driving to this event, I was kinder filled with anticipation and hope this would be a success (fingers crossed). Upon arrival, my heart sank a bit, as I could see the entrance to the field was getting quite boggy. The reason it was already like that was due to the heavy rainfall the day before and all the marquees and toilets etc. were already sited so it had a lot of heavy traffic that day. But we need not had worried as the wind dry the field out nicely before the arrival of caravans from pilots and the public on the Friday.
The road into sleap is very narrow in places so knowing there was going to be a lot of traffic we had to set up a system where we could stop the traffic running into each other, that can be terrifying when you have a caravan or trailer in tow, so we took it in turn to stand in three locations along the road to halt oncoming traffic ether way, I tell you what, the organization that goes into these event is fantastic, its not just made up you know. By the end of Friday, we where all truly shattered, I mean 10am till 10pm if your lucky is a long day. Well done to the fantastic team that do this at every show. We were still getting them coming in well after 10pm.
Well the morning greeted us with a massive rain shower, oh no, this is not looking good, on top of that the wind was getting stronger by the hour and it was a cross the runway that we were using, (you couldn’t make it up could you) In true style and fashion the pilots rolled out there models from the marquee across to the flightline, the trusty boys in yellow and orange adorned with clipboard and pen where waiting patiently for them, then the leader (AJ) gathered the flock for the usual brief for the day, the decision to fly in these conditions was the pilots chose, remembering at this stage the wind was gusting up to 30mph. Thankfully a number of pilots decided to go ahead, the show was on. The crowd line filled up very quickly as the first of the planes got airborne, Austin Dale and Terry Jessop started the show with a Grumman cougar and a Eurofighter, as the morning when on the wind felt like it was getting stronger, yours truly, was taking the pictures but had to keep ducking back into the TX tent to get some respite from the wind which was once again relentless. Many pilots showed no fear and flew all day to entertain the public to which by now had gotten three deep at the show line, I can say is very gratifying to see. Its really wrong to say we had some show stoppers as all planes that fly are what make the show, but if I have to name some then it has to be, Ron Billinger’s Forker 70 airliner, Keith Mitchel’s Constellation and Dave Johnson’s Nimrod, I love them all, but my personal favourite slots where the WWI fun slot and the WWII bombers as they are a challenge for a photographer like me to see how many of them you can get in one shot. The star pilot of the show for me must be Adam Johnson flying his Grumman Cougar absolutely mesmerising, I just want to put the camera down and watch him fly, not something I can say happens very often for me. It was nice to see the Gee Bee racers back with us at this new event, and overall, the first day was a remarkable success. Sunday however had different ideas, we woke up to a breezy but pleasant morning, this was looking promising, however the weather forecast said rain would be moving in later and set to stay with us, hoping it was wrong we proceeded with the show the crowd line was a little thin on the line compared to Saturday, I guess the locals took heed of the weather warnings the wind didn’t seem as strong as yesterday but the sky was black and look menacing in the distance heading our way. By one o’clock it was all over, some pilots flew a bit longer for the remaining crowd, but most had gone home, and the traders were packing up before the rain started. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement, sadly we cannot control the weather we are just merely at the mercy of mother nature, and she can be cruel at times.
So that about raps up this fist show at this new location, overall feeling is positive, and the only complaints were bad Wi-Fi for the traders which is being address and Sunday being a washout, the latter we cannot control. There will be a wash up meeting over the winter months to iron out any issues that arose, we can only thank the pilots and traders that took the risk and supported this new event, we hope you will continue to do so in the future. Here is looking forward to doing it all again next year.