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Spring Time at Old Warden

Chivilary
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Silver Wings
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In Memory of Steve Young
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1950's Growl
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First Recruit
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Axis Training
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Solo Merlin
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The first Sunday in May traditionally is the start of the Shuttleworth Collection's busy season of air displays. The main emphasis of the air displays is to showcase the collections aircraft along with a few select outside acts. The relaxed nature of the display days and beauty of the venue make Old Warden a unique and special place on the airshow circuit. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK Reports. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

Smoking Start
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Tipsy
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YAK ATTACK
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Edwardians
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Barnstormers
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30's Spirit
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Flitzers
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Gentleman's Taxi
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The weather forecasts for the opening show at Old Warden promised weather that would have certainly ruined the day at Old Warden. Come Sunday morning however, the risk of rain had become much reduced and by the end of the day, it was almost a perfect early summer evening. Thankfully, the poor forecasts didn't put off a large crowd turning up for the season opener.

The winter months since the end of the 2005 season once again been a busy one for the staff and volunteers at the collection with hundreds of man hours going in to caring and preparing the aircraft for another busy so summer. In fact several types that are new or have been missing from the collection's displays will return to flight during 2006. There are also a number of notable absentees. Most noticeable will be the collection's Spitfire V AR501 which will undergo an engine change and other maintenance throughout 2006. The SE5a, Tiger Moth and Lysander are also awaiting or currently under going maintenance and may reappear later in 2006. The collection have promised that the Tiger Moth will reappear in a brand new "vibrant" colour scheme following it's overhaul.

Before the show started there's always a small fly-in of visiting aircraft. Stealing the limelight this time were a pair of rather small and natty biplanes. These were a pair of Flitzer Z-1 ans Z-21 homebuilt aircraft. Designed to be reminiscent of classic 1920's style bi-planes they are infact usually powered by Volkswagen engines. Infact, the Red Flitzer is the prototype Z-1.

The flying display proper got underway with the first visiting act, Golden Apple Trust's F-86A Sabre from Duxford. It was flown by Keith Dennison who is a Shuttleworth Collection pilot as well. He's currently a test pilot for BAE Systems on Tornado, Hawk, Harrier and Typhoon fast jets. The Sabre put on a excellent display over Old Warden smoking it's way over the Bedfordshire countryside.

The show then moved back several generations with a series of displays by the World War One aircraft operated by the collection. First to go was the Sopwith Triplane quickly followed by the Sopwith Pup pairing up for a tribute to the Sopwith Aviation Company's contribution to the First Air War. The Pup was seen last year carrying dummy rockets on it's wing struts though those are yet to make an appearance in the air. Also appearing were the Bristol F2b Fighter and the Avro 504K both of which are genuine veterans of the air. The latter also starred in the film about the life of Douglas Bader "Reach for the Sky."

There was a good display of old fashion barnstorming from the Shuttleworth Collection's Miles Magister joined by Peter Holloway's example and the collection's Chipmunk. With balloon bursting, flour bombing and limbo flying it provides a welcome break from some of the more regular display flying and certainly captures the crowds attention. A veteran barnstormer is the collections Southern Martlet which is a reliable display aircraft collection and an impressive performer having been used as a pleasure flight and display aircraft for a Butlins holiday camp in Wales. Much more sedate were the pair of BAE Systems' DH60 Moth and the Collection's DH60X Hermes Moth; the latter being Richard Shuttleworth's first aircraft. Another civilian type originally owned by Richard Shuttleworth to survive today is the Desoutter, a type designed to be a "Air Taxi". Chris Parkhouse also displayed his rare and elegant Tipsy Trainer.

Much of the collection's emphasis nowadays is the preservation of military training aircraft and these naturally feature prominently in a typical flying display at Old Warden. One of the newest to join the ranks is a CASA (Spanish) built example of the Bucker Jungmann. Resplendent in typical Luftwaffe markings, the Jungmann put on a excellent aerobatic routine.

Further "foreign" trainers were represented by Tracy Curtis-Taylor's Ryan PT22 Recruit based with the collection which displayed alongside of the Shuttleworth Collection's Avro Tutor. Both aircraft bathed in the late afternoon sunshine against the dark clouds. The Provost T1 brought the training story up to the beginning of the cold war with a superb routine of aerobatics - something quite surprising from this aircraft for some reason!

There was an element of some sadness during the day. Last year, one of the SVAS volunteers, Steve Young was killed in a car accident. Steve was a keen volunteer and liked by all that he met. His favourite aircraft was the Chipmunk and his friends made a collection to have a particular Chipmunk display at his funeral. There were funds left over that were shared amongst the Addenbrookes Hospital, The Grace Spitfire Fund and for a bench at Old Warden that was dedicated to him during the day thanks to his family and Carolyn Grace. Meanwhile, in the air at the same time, the Collection's Chipmunk put on it's ribbon cutting and ribbon catching routine dedicated to Steve.

Closing the main part of the flying demonstration were some of the collections more potent types. The world only surviving Hawker Tomtit training aircraft was joined by the only airworthy example of the Hawker Hind light bomber in formation of 1930's Hawker designs. The Hind was also joined by the Gloster Gladiator (another unique airworthy example for now) displaying the last frontline biplane shapes to grace the RAF's inventory.

With no Spitfire this year, the Collection's Sea Hurricane Ib closed the main show with a polished routine is brilliant light. This is one of the earliest versions of the Hurricane still flying with it's Merlin III engine and is the only Sea Hurricane flying in it's proper Sea Hurricane trim.

The weather in the evening was so good in the end it allowed for the unique Old Warden experience of seeing Edwardian aircraft fly. First to go was the Bristol Boxkite replica joined very quickly by the Avro Triplane replica - both built for the Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines film.

Closing the flying was a genuine Edwardian type, and the oldest British aircraft still flying, the Blackburn Monoplane flying some sedate circuits in a very still spring evening bringing to a close another unique Shuttleworth flying display. Old Warden hosts it's main air displays on the first Sunday of the month until October and evening displays on Saturday evenings later in each month. Please see our own listings or http://www.shuttleworth.org for more details

 copyright Flightline UK