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2012 Airshows : REVIEW

Shuttleworth Uncovered Air Display

The ‘Shuttleworth Uncovered’ Air Display is the final evening event of the Shutleworth flying season and perhaps the most unique of the year. What marks it out from the rest is the location of several collection exhibits, both ground based and aviation related, within the public paddock. The day is also much more relaxed allowing plenty of time for the public to mingle with the collection staff and pilots to talk about all things Shuttleworth.

Paul Johnson/Flightline reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

The weather may have cost the collection dearly this year with a number of events cancelled. However, some late September sunshine for the final evening air display of 2012 was most welcome bringing in the crowds and making for a glorious backdrop.

The ‘Uncovered’ theme of the day was not extended to Shuttleworth exhibits but also some visitors from other museums. There was a superb collection of Sopwith types with the collection’s own Pup and Triplane joined by Brooklands Museum’s Camel and Dolphin projects. But the star Sopwith addition was the Sopwith Snipe replica restored for the RAF Museum by The Vintage Aviator Ltd. Unlike the other replicas TVAL has produced for Hendon, the Snipe contains a fair amount of original parts and has not been made airworthy; it is however a stunning piece of work and looked gorgeous in the low sun. There were other visiting aircraft in show too with Steve Noujaim's Vans RV-6 in which he broke the record for flying to and from Cape Town.

The flying side of the event was opened by one of the visiting display items, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire PRXIX flown by Sqn Ldr Ian Smith. Ian gave some great powerful flypast down the Old Warden runway but departing off a very nice victory roll to the north and the BBMF’s home base at RAF Coningsby.

Further Second World War era aircraft followed, but this time representing special operations with the Collection’s own Westland Lysander and Peter Holloway’s Fiesler Storch. Each demonstrated their own unique Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) abilities with the Storch performing some quite surprising side-slips and near hovers!

Old Warden is home to a number of interwar aircraft, both from military and civilian backgrounds. Civilian sports’ flying was represented in the flying by the Comper Swift racing aircraft which charged around the dog-legged crowdline It was joined by the Southern Marlet, an aircraft which was used to entertain holiday makes at Butlin's! Somewhat more potent military technology of the time was displayed later in the flying in the form of the wonderful Hawker Hind bomber. Hawker biplanes from the 1930’s are quite simply some of the most beautiful aircraft ever built and seeing them flying in the setting sun is always stunning.

Vintage gliders have become very much a part of a Shuttleworth flying display. For this show, it was the EON Primary Glider's turn to fly towed behind the Piper Super Cub. It is a very, very basic machine with the pilot totally exposed to the elements – it must be quite some view from the controls!

Training aircraft make up a great deal of the Shuttleworth Collection, though only one flew in the display. The Percival Provost is perhaps the most modern type on the collection’s books but represents an important part of RAF training history covering the early part of the cold war. It is an impressive aerobatic performer too which the collection’s pilots always show off well.

However, the highlight of the flying display and perhaps of the whole Shuttleworth year was the element representing the First World War. The Shuttleworth Collection has an amazing collection of replica and genuine First World War types and for this show managed to put up the Bristol F2b Fighter, The RAF SE5a and the Sopwith Triplane.

However, what made this display so special was that it was the final chance to see two replicas built for the RAF Museum by The Vintage Aviator Ltd fly before they are transferred to Hendon. TVAL’s RAF RE8 and Albatros DVa have been absed at old Warden through the latter part of the summer and have made appearances at Duxford and the previous Old Warden show. They are outstanding replicas – the Albatros is fitted with a genuine Mercedes aero-engine whereas the RE8 has a new build engine reversed engineered from an original. Both original engines were from RAF Museum storage and provided to TVAL to produce these stunning aircraft. It may have been sad to see the aircraft making their last flight but they were given a tremendous send-off which saw them joined by the Bristol Fighter and SE5a for a number of flypasts over Old Warden.

Closing the scheduled part of the flying was Peter Teichman in his P-51D Mustang Jumpin Jaques. Peter’s display of big loops, sweeping passes and barrel rolls was a terrific ending to the main flying as the sun set behind Old Warden house.

Such fine weather always means there’s some extra flying from the Edwardians. The ‘Uncovered’ display was brought to an end by the Bristol Boxkite and the Avro Triplane taking advantage of the still air to provide a fitting end to another wonderful day at Old Warden.

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