Every month of the display season, the Shuttleworth Collection hold at least two flying displays. The first Sunday of each month sees the main "day" flying displays such as the military pageants, Spring, Summer and Autumn flyiong displays. However, it's the evening air displays held on Saturday evenings that often provide the best atmosphere for a flying display. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from the first evening flying display of the year. All photography copyright of Author.
The omens were not good for the first eveving display of the year at Old Warden. Much of the UK was subjected to heavy rain during the evening but by some miracle Old Warden park managed to miss it. The cold temperatures and overcast conditions did however mean rather a dull backdrop for the evening's flying display/
Evening shows at Old Warden have a unique atmosphere that is often missed at other shows. There's never any great rush for the crowdline and everything seems that bit more laid back. For most it's the chnace to enjoy a summer's evening picnic along with some gentle flying displays. Unlke some of the other Old Warden displays, there only very few visiting displays but that doesn't detract for a great evening's entertainment.
A surprise at the beginning of the display was a short taxy around the airfield by the collections De Havilland DH88 Comet. This aircraft was spent a number of years under restoration. It had been hoped to fly it much sooner at displays. However, despite the extended runway the aircraft suffered an undercarriage failure during a test flight a couple of years ago. This led to the runway being regraded to provide much smoother landings for the aircraft though at the cuurent time it still required some further work before it can fly again.
A full range of the different types operated by collection take part. The collection is home to a number of first world war aircraft and they are a popular attraction at any display. Flying during the display in May were the Sopwith Triplane, Avro 504K, Sopwith Pup and RAF SE5a. The Triplane in particular put on a spirit display alonside the SE5a showing the agility of the type and just why the Germans were so determined to have their own version.
The period between the world wars is something that the collection specialises in with perhaps the biggest collection in the UK. Lympne Trails aircraft certainly feature stringly in the collection and the ANEC II and Hawker Cygnet were on hand to display the types of aircraft involved in the trials.
RAF training aircraft from between the wars were represented by the Hawker Tomtit and Avro Tutor with both aircraft is the classic silver dope of the early 1930's aircraft. Also in the display was the collection's Tiger Moth which flew alongside the magnificant DH51 "Miss Kenya."
One of the visiting aircraft was the DH Hornet Moth which was giving it's first ever public display at the collection. The collection used to own an example but it was sold to support some of the more popular types at the collection so the site of one of these beatiful biplanes back over Old Warden was a great sight. Another first time display was that given by the Piper L4 Cub flown by Trcay Curtis-Taylor
Another tourer in the display was Peter Holloway's elegant Miles Falcon. A much more potent aircrraft in the collection's hands is the Southern Marlet which was used to give aerobatic displays over Butlins Holiday camps,
The 1950's and 60's are represented in the collection by the De Havilland Chipmunk and Percival Provost T1. While the Provost put on a standard style of display, the Chipmunk flown by John Turner put on an impressive barnstorming display.
Military interwar flying is well represented by the unique Hawker Hind and the Gloster Gladiator which are some of the real crowd favourites at displays. Both are currently unique as the only flying examples of their types. However, by July the Fighter Collection hopes to have it's own Gladiator flying the Hind may well be joined by further examples in the future.
Closing the main part of the dislpay flying were the world war two aircraft. The collection's Spitfire is still under maintenance but may return to the skies much later in the season. First to display was the collection''s Lysander. This aircraft is currently the only example in Europe still flying and is always a welcome addiition to the flying. Later in the year, the "Lizzie" will be taking part in the RAF 90th anniversary displays at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. Closing the main show was the Sea Hurricane.
Despite all the weather, it was calm enough for the Edwardians to fly. Full display flights was given by the Avro Triplane, Bristol Boxkite and Blackburn Monoplane while the delightful Depudussin performed some hops down the runway. As ever, a trip to an Old Warden evening show is a unique experience and a wonderful opportunity to see some very unique aircraft in the air.