Shuttleworth Autumn Airshow 2012 Review

Once again, I returned to Old Warden to see the final airshow at the Shuttleworth Collection having been unable to attend two previous events due to bad weather conditions. The autumn airshow offers a typical array of classic types from the collection, and this year had more fast jet action than would be expected. This was due to one of the major themes of the airshow which was a Cold War Jet Reunion which featured a number of classic jets that were used for training in the Royal Air Force.

Opening the show was a pair of classic advanced trainers of the Royal Air Force in the shape of the Folland Gnat T.1s from The Gnat Display Team. The Gnat was delivered to the Royal Air Force in 1962 used as a two-seat trainer to allow pilots to better transition to frontline fighters. Once the Hawk was introduced, most of the Gnats were used as training airframes. When they were no long required as airframes they were sold off, mainly to private collections. The routine was very entertaining with a very precise and elegant routine and the jets appeared to be closer to the crowds due to the size of the display area which further enhanced the display experience.

The Gnat Display Team

Next up was supposed to be a trio of the Royal Air Force’s silver wings including the Gloster Gladiator Mk. I, the Hawker Demon I and the Hawker Hind. The Gladiator was unable to display for unknown reasons and so it was left to the duo of Hawker biplanes to display. The Demon is operated by Demon Displays and the Hind is operated by the Shuttleworth Collection and both are based at Old Warden. The pair flew together in formation for several passes before splitting at crowd centre to perform individual passes before landing to conclude their very enjoyable display.

Hawker Demon I & Hawker Hind

Despite the Gladiator not displaying, the Collection did not leave us hanging without a display item and filled the gap in the program with the Westland Lysander Mk. IIIA. The Lysander has always been a favourite at shows as both Old Warden and Duxford and gave a very interesting display that showed off the manoeuvrability and the unusual shape of this marvellous aircraft.

Westland Lysander Mk. IIIA

The two aircraft that performed next flew as tribute to Richard Shuttleworth who founded the Shuttleworth Collection in 1928.

First up was the Comper C.L.A.7 Swift which was once known as “The Scarlet Angel” during its time in India. This particular Swift also participated in the Viceroy’s Challenge Cup Air Race at Delhi in 1933 where it came sixth and achieve the second fasted time of 124mph. This aircraft had many other private owners and was acquired by the Collection in 1996 and went through an overhaul to restore the aircraft its original condition. This bright red and white racing plane sped through the sky whilst incorporating steep climbs and tight turns and really allowed the crowds to observe the profile of the aircraft in the air.

Comper C.L.A.7 Swift

The next display actually started on the ground as the aircraft was taken out of its small, blue hanger where the pilot and engineer unfolded its wings to allow it to display. This aircraft was the De Havilland DH.60X Hermes Moth and is a very famous aircraft as it has remained at this airfield since Richard Shuttleworth bought it. The Moth took to the skies and performed routine with the swift by racing around the display area. Once the Swift landed, the Moth performed its display which mainly consisted of several different passes which allowed the crowds to see the striking similarities that it shares with the Tiger Moth.

De Havilland DH.60X Hermes Moth

Coming in fast was the second cold war fast jet to take part in the display proceedings. We were expecting to see the Vampire Preservation Group’s De Havilland DH.100 Vampire T.11 but for unknown reasons we were treated to a display from a De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55 from the Classic Air Force. This aircraft performed one of the greatest classic jet displays I had ever seen with a huge variety of passes which allowed the crowds to see this brilliant aircraft at many different angles.

De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55

Once the Vampire departed, the next display segment began with a contingent of twin engine transport aircraft. This was kicked off with a brief display by the Douglas DC-3C Dakota III from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. This Dakota was originally a support aircraft for the Flight and as a multi-engine trainer for the Lancaster but has recently become a popular display item which was very obvious by the performance we saw at this show.

Douglas DC-3C Dakota III

The next display in this classic transported segment was another aircraft from the Classic Air Force; the De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide in a stunning blue and silver paint scheme. The Rapide flew a very elegant and surprisingly diverse routine and even gave us a great view of the upper side of this classic transporter. Rapides are still very popular aircraft and are a common sight at Duxford and sometimes here at Old Warden, giving pleasure flights to people.

De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide

The final part of this transport section was a display by the locally based Avro Anson XIX and Miles M.65 Gemini 1A which I had the pleasure of seeing at last year’s autumn show but this time, they flew in formation. After making several passes together, the Anson took the lead and the pair flew a tail chase routine which was particularly enjoyable. The Anson in particular was really thrown about the sky and made it really stand out and lead to very entertaining display.

Avro Anson XIX & Miles M.65 Gemini 1A

Moving on to a much quieter element, the Super Cub took to the air once again, towing a bright red glider. This was the Slingsby T.13 Petrel which was used as a competition sailplane and was built just before the start of World War Two. Once the glider was at the right altitude, it descended but also performed a variety of tight turns and arcing manoeuvres which was really impressive for a vintage glider.

Slingsby T.13 Petrel

Next up was a pair of Royal Air Force trainers including another Cold War fast jet. This was the Classic Air Force’s BAC Jet Provost T.3A and the Percival P.56 Provost T.1 from the Shuttleworth Collection. The Provost duo flew a few laps around the airfield before they separated to perform their individual routines. The Jet Provost performed a great display and really showed off the fantastic silver and yellow paint scheme which glinted in the sunlight. It is believed that this particular Jet Provost is one of only three T.3 versions left flying in the UK. The Provost then began to demonstrate its aerobatic capabilities at high altitude before descending to lower levels and performing several highly photogenic passes. Both the Jet Provost and the Piston Provost displays were thoroughly entertaining and were great representations of the Royal Air Force from yesteryear.

Taking a break from vintage aviation we turned to some modern unlimited aerobatics with Kester Scrope in his Zivko Edge 540 which put on a highly impressive aerobatic routine. This particular aircraft is also the only one of its type on the UK aircraft register.

Zivko Edge 540

The very next segment revolved around World War One with some of the Shuttleworth Collection’s classic fighters from this era.

First up was the Sopwith Pup which was used on the Western Front and defence duties as well as in pioneering sea trials in which one example of this aircraft made the first ever landing on a ship in 1917. This wonderfully built biplane flew a fantastic display in the dimming light before making way for another Sopwith triumph. The second performer was another successful fighter; the Sopwith Triplane Replica. This particular example is not an original, but a late reproduction that is uncannily similar to the original. These aircraft were used as fighters and some were used as conversion trainers. The routine was similar to the Pups and was highly enjoyable. It would have been better if they flew in formation but nonetheless, I enjoyed routine. Coming up next was two more highly recognizable biplane fighters in the form of the Bristol F.2B Fighter and the RAF S.E.5A. The routine began with the Bristol Fighter performing series of marvellous passes before the S.E.5A joined up and the pair of highly successful biplanes flew in formation. The S.E.5A then flew several solo passes before the pair landed to conclude this highly enjoyable segment of the show.

More gliding action next, with another glider from the Shuttleworth Collection. This was the Elliotts Primary EoN once again being towed up into the sky by the Super Cub. Unlike the previous glider display, this glider couldn’t perform very tight turns and descended rather quickly to a very smooth landing.

Elliotts Primary EoN

Finally, closing the main part of the show was the fourth and last Cold War fast jet; the Hawker Hunter T.7A in a striking Black Arrows scheme. This version of the Hunter is two-seat training version with side-by-side seating and was used as a conversion trainer for the Buccaneer. This classic jet streaked through sky whilst making some awesomely tight manoeuvres and was a great conclusion to this part of the show.

Hawker Hunter T.7A

Fortunately for us, the wind was virtually non-existent which meant that we would be seeing at least a few of the Edwardians. In fact, we got to see all five of them.

The first of the Edwardians took to the sky. This Blackburn Monoplane Type D is the oldest airworthy British aircraft and has quite an interesting history. It was built in 1912 and used as a demonstration aircraft for Blackburn. When war was declared in 1914, the aircraft was abandoned and forgotten about until Richard Shuttleworth discovered it behind a haystack which he had to buy to get to the aircraft. He began to restore it until 1940 when Richard was tragically killed and work stopped until after the war and was fully restored in 1949. This aircraft was celebrating its 100 years of existence and it was a great sight to see on this significant day. Next up was the Deperdussin Type A Monoplane which performed two short hops along the runway. This aircraft featured in the film “Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines”. The two Edwardians taking to the sky next were two replicas that were built for the film “Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines” and as they proved to be very good flyers, they were acquired by the Shuttleworth Collection. These were the Roe IV Triplane and the Bristol Boxkite which each performed their own solo passes before making several formations passes which was a fantastic sight to see on this calm evening. The final Edwardian to display and close the entire show was the Bleriot XI with this particular example being the oldest aircraft in the world with the earliest aero-engine in flying condition. This aircraft like the Deperdussin was restricted to two short hops across the runway.

Overall, the day’s flying was absolutely fantastic with plenty of aircraft representing the two themes of the show. In particular the De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55 and the Blackburn Monoplane Type D were definitely the stars of the show. Also, the twin-engine transport and First World War segments of the display were also thoroughly entertaining. All in all, this airshow was fantastic and I look forward to seeing more from the Shuttleworth Collection next year.    

For more photos from this show check out the entire Shuttleworth Autumn Airshow 2012 album on Flickr

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