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An electric plane and Boeing's Dreamliner star at Farnborough (photos)

We popped along to the UK's gigantic Farnborough Airshow to take a look at an electric plane, the new Boeing 787-9, the Eurofighter Typhoon and plenty more besides.

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Andrew Lanxon

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The Farnborough airshow is one of Europe's biggest showcases of the latest technology in commercial and military aircraft. Some of the biggest players in the industry, including Boeing and Airbus, come together to flog their new planes, as well as give the public a thrill with spectacular air demonstrations, including this performance from the superb Red Arrows.

I went along to the 2014 show to see what it was all about.

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This is the Airbus E-Fan: a twin-engine plane that's entirely electric. It's 60kW engines have a flight time of around an hour and weighs only 500kg (1,100 pounds).

The E-Fan is designed for pilot training. We're a long way away from having fully electric airliners, but it's a step in the right direction.

Read more about the Airbus E-Fan here.

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One of the stars of the show was the Airbus A380. A goliath passenger jet, it's capable of seating over 500 people, making it the world's largest commercial plane.

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It really is monstrous.

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The A380 took to the skies over the show. With no passengers, baggage or much fuel on board, the plane was light enough for the pilot to perform manoeuvres rather more extreme then they would do during a normal passenger flight.

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Airbus also had military craft to show off. This is the A400M -- a four-engine airlifter.

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It first entered service in 2013, but Airbus wanted to show off more of its skills at Farnborough to tempt potential buyers.

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Like the A380 passenger plane, the A400M was flown much more aggressively than it usually would, thanks to a lack of any passengers of equipment on board.

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Another crowd favourite was the Eurofighter Typhoon jet.

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The Typhoon is 16 metres (52 feet) long, and is designed to be extremely agile in the air.

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It's not particularly easy to take photos of planes when they're travelling at such speeds. I had the help of Canon's 400mm f/2.8 lens, which zooms in close to the plane, allowing you to get shots like this.

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I thought this was breaking the sound barrier, but BAE Systems told me that this cloud bubble is caused by "low pressure forming over wings, causing water vapour to condense into a visible mass of liquid." So now you know.

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Who's this attractively silhouetted chap?

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Why, it's the T129 ATAK helicopter. As I suspected.

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It can fit two people inside and can hit a maximum speed of 174mph.

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It has various rockets and guns mounted to the sides.

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There's a gun on the front too.

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Almost all of the helicopters being shown off at this year's show were for the military.

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This one has a ground-scanning camera bolted to the front, as well as what looks like a butterfly's proboscis. This allows it to refuel from other aircraft while in the air.

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There's a minigun mounted on the side.

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And another one on the back.

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It has a single joystick control, so you can imagine you're playing a classic arcade game.

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These guys brought their US Army helicopter to the show.

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It's not exactly compact, is it?

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It's always a pleasure seeing the Red Arrows doing a demonstration.

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They did two flybys, which meant that I had only a few seconds to really appreciate them as they zoomed past.

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Even the airport staff wanted to watch the giant A380 do its stuff.

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Pro tip: don't cut the grass around your airshow before demonstrating how a four-engine goliath takes off...

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...otherwise a giant cloud of grass clippings will be thrown up...

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...and engulf the audience.

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Take your pick.

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I presume all these chaps are stood around debating who gets to fly it first. Rock, paper, scissors?

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Two engines are better than one. I think.

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Qatar airlines had a few of its luxury jumbo jets to show off.

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I wanted to get on board and relax in business class with a mojito, but oddly they weren't keen on that plan.

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Boeing was excitedly showing off its 787-9 Dreamliner at the show. My excellent colleague Stephen Shankland got up close and personal with the plane earlier in the show.

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No pilots are required to fly this drone.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the police were heavily armed.

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Even from the back, the A380 looks huge.

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Actually, it looks pretty impressive from all angles.

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The A400M can carry up to 37 tonnes of cargo.

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These teeny propellers belong to a micro drone, which can be programmed to fly in a swarm and are able to automatically detect and avoid objects.

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Inside the showcase halls, various bits of plane were being displayed.

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Here's an enormous jet.

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And another.

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And a third for good measure.

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Farnborough airshow also includes some historical artefacts, like these early planes.

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Can you imagine flying high above the ground laying in what looks like a kite?

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This one's a little more robust.

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My favourite thing on display is this all-terrain vehicle, which has a propeller on the back, allowing you to drive along with a parasail, taking off and gliding into the air when you happen to drive off a cliff.

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Poor GPS signal? Launch your own satellite.

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Various satellites were on display, designed for purposes including navigation and military communications.

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Coolest helmet ever.

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This is one of the ways new pilots are trained, before being put in control of multi-million pound aircraft.

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Presumably the pilot of the Typhoon had to get a high score on the simulator.

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It put on a hell of a show.

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How did I get so high to take this shot from above? I didn't, I was on the ground -- the plane was banking hard.

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It's actually quite weird seeing such massive planes being thrown around in the air.

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You won't see commercial planes like this flying so aggressively normally.

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Canon's 400mm lens lets you get super-close to the plane, but it does make it very hard to actually find the plane in the sky.

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During testing, the planes are often filled with water tanks that can shift their weight during the flight to simulate luggage in the hold.

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