2005 Edition

 

 

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Vintage Victory

Vintage Era
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Last of the major airshows to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the end of war in Europe was the Shuttleworth Collection's June Military Pagaent display. There were a number of reasons for holding the event a month later than the actual date. Firstly, the lengthen main runway was not ready in June and any 'heavy metal' such as visiting Mustangs and Hurricanes would have been unable to land. Also, such aircraft may have been unavailible for that particular anniversary due to the number of events around the country. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK takes in his first taste of Old Warden of the year. All Photography copyright of Author.

Old Warden's Fighting Spirit
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Polished Routine
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Provost Returns
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Eastern Promise
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Shuttleworth Airshows are always special whatever the occasion, whatever that might be. As ever, Old Warden seems to have an atmosphere all of it's own, but this one was noticebly extra special. The area around the new visitor's centre and shop was turned into street party while British troop re-enactors marched German PoW's around the airfield!

Sadly, the weather this year at Old Warden has been less than classic with most of their display so far dogged by overcast although thankfully it has remined dry. The VE Day show was no different. Infact Old Warden escaped some very bad weather around the country which is part was good news. Sadly through it did lead to the cancellation of some visiting acts in the form of the Grumman Avenger and Douglas Skyraider which remained firmly on the ground at Yeovilton unable to takeoff and get through to the show. The show was infact quite different to the published programme as unfortunalty, there were a number of Shuttleworth aircraft unavaible for the show although this did not detract from another enjoyable display.

The display opened with the Yakovlevs flying a duo routine rather than the full four ship display. They maybe a smaller outfit that the Aerostars, but they are no less professional or spectacular. Their display consists of close formation work and some sycronised flying in the very elegently marked Super Yak 52 and Yak 50. The Yaks were the shows only "russian" representatives to mark the Eastern Front. Next came a combine of First World War types. It is important in remembering the end of World War Two that many of the tactics and developments stem from the First World War as does many of the reasons for WW2. Old Warden is the only place to see an original Avro 504K, SE5a and Bristol F2b Fighter flying togther in the UK which makes the venue so special. Later in the day, the collections Sopwith Triplane reproduction also took to the skies while in the hanger the collections Sopwith Pup is ready to make a dramatic reappearance at a future display.

A major theme of the Shuttleworth Collection is training aircraft. The collection probably has the best collection of military and civil training aircraft in the world from the inter war years. It's a interesting slant on the VE Day theme to see so many of these aircraft as they can tell the story of how the pilots who sacrificed so much were trained. The genesis of the RAF training aircraft development owes a lot of the Lympne Trials. The only representative in the VE Day Display was the Hawker Cygnet replica. Inter war training was represente by a number of Old Warden favourities. The stunning Avro Tutor was joined by the equally elegant Hawker Tomtit for a duo display. The Tutor is the markings of an aircraft in a Central Flying School formation display team which looks absolutely superb for displays at Old Warden displaying the brightly coloured upper surfaces to good effect along the unique Old Warden display line. The Hawker Tomtit wears a rather more subdued all over silver scheme common to a number of types during the 1930's. Moving to types more closely associated with training World War Two Shuttleworth's Tiger Moth was joined by two Miles Magisters from the collection and Peter Holloway. Peter also flew his Ryan PT-22 in formation with another PT-22 (actually the type prototype) which is currently being looked after by the Old Flying Machine Company. Interestingly, an interesting addition to the flying programme was the Percival Provost T1. This is a post war training aquired by the Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society for the collection a couple or so years ago. Despite not really fitting in to the theme of the day it was a welcome addition has maintenance work last year meant the type was not seen flying during the 2004 season.

Of course, a VE Day show would be incomplete without some "fighting" types amongst the proceedings. First to fly after some starting problems was the collections Supermarine Spitfire Vb carrying it's original markings. AVM Sir John Allison put on a truly excellent graceful display as well as providing the "Guess the height" competition on the top of his first loop! Clearly, straight and level passes have become far too easy for the Old Warden crowd!

Another collection favourite returning to full display duty this year is the venerable Westland Lysander special operation aircraft, another firm Old Warden favourite due to it's size and slow flying characteristics. Sadly however, the Avro 19 Anson was unable to display although did perform a test flight prior to the show opening.

First of the visiting warbirds was Peter Teichman in his P-51D Mustang Jumpin' Jaques fresh from his display at Sounds. The Mustang pretty much needs all of Old Warden's runway. Old Warden's Flightline provides several opportunities to capture topsides of this very shiny warbird.

However, perhaps the show stars were Shuttleworth's Sea Hurricane 1b and Peter Vacher's Hurricane I; the later also fresh from Dunsfold the previous day. These two aircraft are the oldest Hurricanes airworthy and also have the oldest Merlin III engines still running. The Sea Hurricane first flew a solo before joining up with the Spitfire and the Hurricane Mk1 for a couple of flypasts before the Spitfire landed and the hurricanes flew together. The finale to the day was a solo display by the Hurricane MkI - perhaps a fitting end and the aircraft has a genuine Battle of Britain record and is perhaps the most historic warbird flying.

As ever, an enjoyable show in perhaps the best atmosphere of any venue in the UK. It was a shame that a couple items were lost due to the weather but that was more than made up for by some great display flying showing off some very rare machines at their very best. If you find yourself with nothing to do one weekend and Old Warden is holding a show that day, get over there. You'll never regret it!

 copyright Flightline UK 2005