Shuttleworth Summer Air Display 2009


Summer Flying
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The beautiful surroundings, relaxed atmosphere and small of Castrol-R are what make Old Warden such a special place for an airshow. Early June saw the Shuttleworth Collection's Summer Air Display whch just managed to avoid some very heavy summer rain showers. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. Photography copyright of the Author.

After a torrid two years which has seen many of the displays hit by weather, Old Warden deserves a break. The forecast for the 7th June was not promising with strong thunderstorms and heavy shower forecast to hit much of the country. As it happened, Old Warden was sandwiched between the weather for much of the day allowing a full display to take place. Towards the end of the days, the skies did start to look much more threatening which meant the Edwardian aircraft stayed firmly in the hangers.

Earlier in the day things didn't look too promising either. Usually visitors are treated to a superb line up of aircraft parked out on the flight lines for the morning and many aircraft take to the air for air tests and currency flights. But up until late morning, all aircraft stayed firmly in the safety of Old Warden hangers. But as the sun appeared, the aircraft slowly started to be dragged out of the hangers by the faithful volunteers that put so much into these displays.

Old Warden is world famous for it's collection of unique or incredibly rare aircraft. It possibly has one of the finest collections of World War One survivors and they played a strong part in the afternoon flying display. The Avro 504K, SE5a Sopwith Triplane, Sopwith Pup and Bristol Fighter all powered themselves into the skies for their segment of the flying displays. While the 504K, SE5a, Pup and Bristol Fighter are all geniune survivors of their marks, the Triplane is actually referred to as a "late production" machine having been built as a replica but officially endorsed by Tommy Sopwith.

The inter war years were very well represented in flying displays. On the military side of flying, the collection's Hawker Tomtit flew as did Peter Holloway's Bucker Bestmann and the Collection's Bucker Jungmann. These aircraft represented the many different training aircraft used by the opposing sides during the build up to the the second world war. The Tomtit itself continued to fly during the war as test pilot Alex Henshaw personal "hack!" The americans pre-war trainers were represented by the Ryan PT-22 Recruits of Peter Holloway and Tracy Curtis-Taylor

BAE Systems' own Blackburn B2 and DH60 Moth put on a pleasant display. The DH60 flew some gentle passes while the Blackburn put on a show of it's aerobatic abilities which were fairly surprising and dramatic against the deep blue sky.

One of the first acts of the afternoon was the diminutive Chilton DW1 monoplane. This 1930's single seat aircraft has had tough life as a racing aircraft. It crashed in the late 1950's after engine problems and was finally restored to flying condition in 2001. The collection's Southern Martlet also has an interesting history; one of it's previous owners was Butlins Holiday Camps where it was used to give barnstorming displays to holidaymakers.

Today, the Martlet may not give the displays it used to, but the Shuttleworth Collection does present barnstormer displays. The first opened the show with the collection's DHC-1 Chipmunk performing a ribbon cut and pick-up display. The display starts at height when the pilot of the Chipmunk throws out a toilet roll. As the stream of paper descends the pilot then tries to cut the paper as much as possible using the wings of the aircraft. The Chipmunk then manages to pick some stronger ribbon attached to post using some barbs attached to the leading edges of the wings. The second barnstoming display of the afternoon saw a team of Chipmunk, Tiger Moth and a pair of Magisters get into the air for a variety of barnstorming activities, the first of which was flour-bombing. This was followed by some balloon bursting and limbo flying.

The modern equivalent to the barnstormers at the show was the Swift Aerobatic Display Team with the combination of PA25 Pawnee, SA180 Twister and the S-1 Swift Glider. The team have a busy year planned but Old Warden was one of the shows the team were most looking forward to displaying at - a special birthday treat for team leader Guy Westgate. The team's low level aerotow is always a particular spectacular with Ian Gallacher leading in the Pawnee and Pete Wells rolling around the formation in his Twister. The team are always developing the display and the next few weeks will see a new Twister join the team (G-RIOT) while G-TWST is rebuilt for 2010 in anticipation of more exciting developments.

Peter Teichman is a regular visitor to Old Warden displays. For the Summer Air DIsplay he brought his P-51D Mustang over from his base at North Weald for a typically spirited routine. A rare participant at Old Warden over the past few years has been the RAF! For the Summer Air Display, the Hawk T1 solo display made an impressive appearance over the Bedfordshire countryside providing a modern take on the training theme that the Shuttleworth Collection is based around. 1950's RAF training was represented by the Provost T1 flown by Paul Stone, who was also acting as Flying Display Director for the afternoon's flying.

The finale to the day's flying was a series of displays by some of the collection more potent aircraft. First to display was the Sea Hurricane Ib flown by Andy Sephton. The Hurricane has one of the oldest airworthy Merlin engines fitted and is treated with great respect by the Collection being given a proper cooling off period after the display before landing. The Hurricane predecessor, the Gloster Gladiator was flwon by Sir John Allison before the display was concluded by the impressive Westland Lysander.

Old Warden's next airshow is on the 20th June (evening display) and they continue on the 1st Sunday and 3rd Saturday of each month until October. If the weather plays ball, there's rarely a better place to be for an airshow!

Summer Flying
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