The Shuttleworth Collection rounded out its 2013 airshow season with two events at the start of the autumn season. ‘Shuttleworth Uncovered’ on 22 September 2013 was a chance to get up close and personal with some of the Collection’s aircraft to a greater degree than at any other event held at Old Warden, whilst the October Flying Day on 6 October 2013 was the final chance to see some Collection favourites and a number of interesting visiting acts. Greg Marsh reports for GAR.
Shuttleworth Uncovered, 22/09/13
The Shuttleworth Collection’s annual Uncovered airshow is one of my favourite events at this historic venue. The concept is simple, but effective – display a selection of Collection aircraft in the main paddock, on show to the public without barriers until they are moved onto the flightline in preparation for their displays. In recent years, this has been expanded to include a selection of the resident vehicles on show. This time round, there was even the chance to sit on and “operate” the Vickers Bofors gun which was a popular attraction with children!
For 2013, a new feature was to reverse the aircraft in the paddock, so that those on the flightline were moved into the public arena following their display and vice versa.
On static display were the Polikarpov Po2, Dragon Rapide and Colin Essex’s Hawker Cygnet replica, alongside the newly arrived Sopwith Camel, which has been built by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops. It was fascinating to inspect the machine completely uncovered by fabric, with the struts and wires on full show. This really hammers home just how basic these early aeroplanes were. It made for an interesting comparison with the fuselage of the Hawker Tomtit, which was brought out in to the open whilst undergoing the lengthy process of re-covering, demonstrating the rapid advancement of flight over a few short years.
The weather was certainly on Shuttleworth’s side. The last few airshows had all been wind affected so it was a joy that the World War One types were able to get air underneath their wings for the first time since early July. Undoubted star of the event, and making its first public display since an engine change, was the Bristol M1C. Chief Pilot Roger Bailey flew a lovely sequence in the machine, perhaps my favourite allied World War One type, after he had flown in formation with Paul Shakespeare in the SE5A. The Bristol Fighter and Sopwith Triplane also performed individually and as a a pair, as did two generations of Avro training machines, the 504K (looking fanciful in its new night fighter scheme) and Tutor.
In fact, this was the format for the majority of the programme, where one aircraft would display, and then be joined by another for a series of formation passes, before it would land (and either park on the flightline or be towed into the paddock) whilst the stable mate flew indivually.
A cracking opening to the show was the Hawker duo of Sea Hurricane and Hind. Paul Stone’s spirited routine in the Sea Hurricane was brilliant enough but the subsequent formation and short opposition routine with Stu Goldspink in the Hind was sublime. I can’t think of many finer ways to kick off a Shuttleworth Collection airshow!
Further regulars, the Lysander and Gladiator, displayed at the end of the show whilst the wind conditions allowed the Comper Swift to take to the air, in company with the beautiful Parnall Elf. The rare ANEC II also displayed for the first time this year in the hands of Rex Moorey, who had earlier towed Chris Heames aloft in the Kirkby Kite glider from the cockpit of the Super Cub.
Uncovered is really all about the Shuttleworth Collection, its machines and people, so visitors never really feature highly on the list. After all, you can see plenty at the other flying days throughout the season. That said, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s DC-3 Dakota performed a pleasing series of runs past, including several topside passes, once again dispelling the myth that the BBMF never dip their wings at airshows.
A perfect way to round out the day was displays by the Avro Triplane and Bristol Boxkite replicas, before it was time to head home and reflect on a fantastic afternoon’s entertainment. When the sun is shining and the wind is light, there are few places that I would rather be than Old Warden!
Well done to all staff, pilots, engineers and volunteers at the Collection for making this another successful Uncovered. I hope this event will return next year. It really is the jewel in Old Warden’s airshow crown!
October Flying Day, 06/10/13
A fortnight later saw the final Shuttleworth Collection airshow of 2013, the October Flying Day. Once again, the weather gods smiled favourably on Old Warden and visitors enjoyed a lovely relaxed day with blue skies and light winds.
Star of the day was the morning arrival of Taff Smith in the Percival Mew Gull. This wonderful vintage air racer, made famous by Alex Henshaw’s England to Cape Town flight in 1939, is now owned by the Shuttleworth Collection, having previously been resident at Breighton in the care of the Real Aeroplane Company. Long time Shuttleworth fans will recall that this historic machine lived here for many years when owned by Desmond Penrose, along with his Arrow Active (now at Breighton).
I was impressed that the Collection staged a mock handicap 1930’s air race. It’s been some years since this last happened, and it was disappointing that the Air Racing and Record Breakers theme was dropped from the August Flying Day, in favour of a more traditional Old Warden line up. Given the significant new arrival’s racing pedigree, it was a very appropriate inclusion indeed.
Seven machines participated; the Comper Swift, both Chilton DW1s and four Miles aircraft – Magister, Gemini, Falcon and the visiting Whitney Straight. Flown over the course of five laps, this was an imaginative way to show off these aircraft and a fine recreation of the sights and sounds of these early events. Very different to the high octane action at Reno, but not far off the likes of the King’s Cup Air Race, which still occurs to this day. Anna Walker took the winning honours in the blue Chilton, this being faster than its red stable mate, which was first off, but last through the finishing line (although it was a close contest between that and the Swift!)
Many of the Old Warden favourites were showcased throughout the show, including a full complement of World War One types, with another wonderful appearance by the Bristol M1C. This also marked Peter Holloway’s first public display in the Bristol Fighter.
An unusual formation pairing was Tutor and Hind. Not much in common you would think, but the latter was converted into a two seat trainer towards the end of the thirties, so there is a connection! Chris Huckstep’s routine was also typically spirited with some lovely low passes and wingovers.
Unfortunately, the Gladiator had to land early with an airspeed indicator fault, preventing it from formating with the Lysander and Sea Hurricane. Thankfully, Rob Millinship made a safe landing, having been guided in by the Lizzie.
There was an eclectic selection of visitors on offer including high energy aerobatics from Kester Scrope in his Edge 540, a stunning routine from the Czech built Letov Lunak vintage glider, Peter Troy-Davies in his Rotorsport Calidus Autogyro (a very appropriate inclusion given the recent death of the great Wing Commander Ken Wallis and an awesome performance) and one of the Little Gransden-based Spartan Executives in the hands of Bob Morcon. This flew in company with the resident Avro XIX Anson before both types performed a fabulous on-crowd break to display individually.
Graham Peacock’s Hawker Hunter T7 WV372 also displayed for the third time at Old Warden this year, once again flown by Chris Heames. Chris opened the show in the rather more sedate Eon Primary glider which couldn’t be more of a contrast to his show closing mount! It’s always fantastic to see a Hunter perform here, but it would be nice, perhaps, to see a different airframe next year.
Unfortunately conditions were not ideal for all the Edwardians to take to the skies, but Paul Stone closed the Shuttleworth year in fine fashion in the Avro Triplane, as the sun began to set. In a nice touch, the 1904 Aurora motorcycle was paraded up and down the crowd line in unison, driven by Old Warden regular Andy Jones. Only at Old Warden!
So, that’s it until 11th May 2014. What delights will we witness at Old Warden next season, I wonder?