Farnborough 2010

I am fortunate to be sat here on slightly damp grass, beneath a cumulus-sprinkled July sky; sat in the sun with several thousand other people from all nations, all walks of life, free to spend a Saturday watching everything from a Bristol Bulldog to the new A380 take wing above Farnborough's runway.

Seventy years ago the display above my head would have been a deadly dance for survival, for freedom - punctuated by gunfire and the scream of overstretched engines. And the smoke trails would have been black with burning oil.

What would they think, those 2927 men who fought and fought through the summer of 1940, day after day, tip-tilted on the knife-edge of exhaustion; scrabbling for sleep and meals, never knowing if the next 'Scramble' was going to be their last?

Would they find it ironic that there's only the one ME109 left now, being gently 'hounded' through the blue and white by our little gaggle of Spits and Hurricanes?

Would they be pleased that four generations on we are still coming here and bringing our children?

And what would they make of the latest 'kites', the g-suits, swept-wings, fly-by-wire and the fact that the A380 is a superb product of European collaboration?

Larks still sing above English airfields, our skies are free, I think they'd approve.

© Samantha Newbury 2010