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Air Display plans for jets to stage ‘dogfight’

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ORGANISERS are hoping to have two Korean War-era jets simulate a dogfight over St Aubin’s Bay this summer during the Jersey International Air Display.

The Sabre F-86E jet scheduled to take part in the 2019 Jersey International Air Display. Picture: Deputy Mike Higgins (24692331)

The Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI and American Sabre F-86E have both now been confirmed for the event.

Meanwhile, following the declaration of an ecological and climate emergency by the States, Deputy Mike Higgins, organiser of the air display, has said that it is likely that measures will need to be taken in the future to offset aircraft emissions.

He expressed his interest in working more closely with Guernsey – adding that it could benefit both jurisdictions.

Speaking about the Korean War-era jets, Deputy Higgins said: ‘There is only one Sabre jet and only two MiG-15s still left flying and we are hoping to get both aircraft having a dogfight over St Aubin’s Bay.

‘These are the first real combat jets and I have been planning it for years – the pilots are doing displays in Europe at the moment and are getting together to arrange it. They are displaying elsewhere but we will be the only place where there will be a dogfight.’

The two aircraft are arguably most famous for the roles they played in the Korean War. During the conflict, the Americans, who had become accustomed to having the superior fighters, were shocked to learn of the high speed, agility and flying height of the MiG-15.

Its power was derived from copies of British engines that London had provided to them after the Second World War as a goodwill gesture.

Due to the threat posed by the Russian aircraft, the United States Air Force hurried delivery of its F-86 Sabre which – thanks to a superior pilot training programme – managed to re-establish dominance.

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However, the MiG-15 was responsible for virtually ending the daylight bombing runs by the larger American bombers.

Explaining what a dogfight could entail, Deputy Higgins said: ‘It is when you try and get on the other guy’s tail to get a radar or gun lock on him while the other guy is manoeuvring to try and get away.

‘I did one over North Wales in an RAF Hawk. We had this other French exchange pilot following us and we were pulling 7G and negative –1G getting away from him.

‘You have to turn inside [the enemy’s turn] for the “bullets” to hit so they are rolling and pulling in different directions.

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‘Our plane was buffeting and you can feel the plane just about to depart itself. If you pull too tightly the aircraft can stall and go into a spin.’

In the annual report released this month by Dominic Lazarus, the director of Civil Aviation in the Channel Islands, he said that he would like to explore the possibility of the two islands working together on their air shows.

Asked about the possibility, Deputy Higgins said: ‘If Guernsey and Jersey did work together and shared the costs of getting the aircraft here that would benefit us both. Some of these aircraft are coming from far away and it is very expensive.

‘Provided they can get the funding – as it is always difficult to obtain funding for these kind of events – and if they are prepared to share half the cost of getting the aircraft here then I would be delighted to work with them.

‘We already work with them on things like safety, for example, to make sure that there is no conflict, but it would be better for us if we could share costs.’

Following the States’ declaration of a climate emergency earlier this month Deputy Higgins said he was considering how he could offset the emissions from aircraft taking part in his event.

‘For the air display to continue we will have to look at ways of offsetting carbon – maybe we will have to pay for trees to be planted.’

Asked if this could push up the price of putting on a display, he said: ‘Essentially yes. We will need more sponsorship and so on to cover costs.’

But Deputy Higgins added that new, more environmentally friendly aircraft and fuels were being developed which could appear in future events.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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