The start of the 2013 airshow season was finally upon us and I was able to attend the Shuttleworth Flying Day in April. Shows at the Shuttleworth Collection could be described as a “Big Green Time Machine” as well as many other descriptions, Cold and Windy not being words that I would want to associate with this event. The weather did unfortunately lead to many cancellations including the five Edwardian aircraft and the fourship of World War One aircraft owned by the Shuttleworth Collection. The ‘Lympne Trials’ sequence featuring the ANEC II, English Electric Wren and Hawker Cygnet replica was also called off alongside the Chilton D.W.1 and the vintage gliders, the EoN Primary and Slingsby T-6 Kirby Kite. Several visiting aircraft were also unable to attend including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Douglas DC-3C Dakota III due to high crosswinds at Coningsby as well a CASA 1-133C Jungmeister due to perform an aerobatic display. Despite this long list setbacks, the Shuttleworth team put together a respectable line up of aircraft which was evident with some late additions.
Having just enjoyed observing a few practice displays from the Collection’s Parnell Elf and Percival P.56 Provost T.1, I had a look around the museums and hangers, I noticed that the Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk. IB appeared to be almost ready to return to the skies and work to the Supermarine Spitfire LF. VC was progressing well and upon completion the team will begin work on the Grumman FM-2 Wildcat.
Along the flightline, as well as the display aircraft there was a very small number of static aircraft including the Sopwith Pup which was bought out as well as the Miles M.14A Magister I which I assumed would be flying although this turned out not to be the case.
The sky was still grey and cloudy when the flying began but this did nothing to stop the first item. Kicking of the start of the show and the 2013 airshow season was Peter Teichman in his North American P-51D Mustang “Jumpin Jacques” which is probably one of the best warbird displays you would ever get to see. This particular Mustang has never had to have a major restoration and is nearly completely original as well as still having the bullet repair marks on both sides of the fuselage behind the pilot’s position. Peter flew an excellent display in spite of the gloomy conditions and was a real great start to the show.
The next display segment featured the Shuttleworth Collection’s Comper C.L.A.7 Swift and Peter Holloway’s Ryan PT-22 Recruit. This unusual pairing did have a significant link to each other, in that they are both powered by radial engines. After this radial pair performed a series of loose formation passes they split up and each performed multiple circuits simultaneously before the pair touched down to land.
Another unusual pairing took to the skies next with the Polikarpov Po-2 owned by the Shuttleworth Collection and a privately owned Auster AOP.11. The theme of this display was army cooperation as the Po-2 type was used by the Soviets and other communist nations in the Second World War and the Korean War. The AOP.9 was used as an air observation post and this particular type of Auster is unique as it is an updated version of the AOP.9 but was never adopted by the military due to the development of the helicopter making this the only type of its kind flying in the world. The pair of aircraft performed some close formation flypasts before separating and displaying their own routines with the Po-2 demonstrating particularly spirited and agile display.
Concluding the army cooperation section of flying was a stunning solo display by the Hawker Hind which was representing the Hart and Audax variants that were used for this role. This particular Hind is the only one flying in the world and is owned by the Shuttleworth Collection and performed a great display and its silver scheme looked fantastic against the grey skies of Old Warden.
We once again shifted the theme with a stunning trio of classic trainers including the De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth II, the Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub and the De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk. 22 that came together to perform an array of barnstorming displays. The routine was kicked off with some flour bombing where the pilots tried to hit a target on the ground and this case, the Tiger Moth was the only one that hits anywhere nears its target. The Tiger Moth triumphed again with the balloon bursting segment where the classic biplane had a distinct advantage in having town sets of wings. The final barnstorming act was limbo flying where several volunteers held up two poles with a stream of ribbon across the top where the three aircraft had to fly under. Each aircraft was able to complete this more than twice despite the blustery conditions and concluded the routine with several circuits around the airfield before landing one after the other.
The most modern aircraft of the day was one of the few visiting aircraft that was able to make it to the show. This was the Extra EA-300S flown by Chris Burkett with some spectacular unlimited aerobatics. Even in the grey skies and tricky conditions he put his aircraft through its paces with some excellent aerobatic manoeuvres and was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Next up was a trio of aircraft that are not just the only ones flying in the world but also the only ones remaining of their type. Taking to the air were the Shuttleworth Collection’s Parnall Elf and Avro Tutor following swiftly by the Blackburn B.2 which is owned by BAe Systems. The three biplanes performed a rather sedate but graceful routine with many curving circuits around the sky before the two collection owned aircraft landed. The B.2 then proceeded to demonstrate its aerobatic capabilities as it was designed as an aerobatic trainer and even on a cold April afternoon this stunning and rare biplane performed a wonderful display.
The final visiting aircraft to display was the Boeing-Stearman PT-13D Kaydet which is based at Little Gransden airfield not too far away from Old Warden. This particular Kaydet was flown by Bob Morecombe who flew a stunning routine which really show why this classic American trainer is still popular with pilots and it was a great last minute addition to the line up.
Sticking with the classic trainer theme, we treated to a display from the Shuttleworth Collection’s own Percival P.56 Provost T.1 which was put through a series of high aerobatic manoeuvres as well as some graceful curves along the crowd line. This particular example sports a great looking but apparently inappropriate camouflage scheme and gave a highly entertaining display.
The Collection’s De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk. 22 took to the air once again to perform some other interesting barnstorming displays. The windy conditions meant that the ribbon catching routine could not happen but this didn’t to stop the ribbon cutting routine even though a lot more of the ribbon descended to the ground than normal and even more landed on the hedges at the other side of the airfield.
With the show now drawing to a close, it was down to the Gloster Gladiator Mk. I to close the show in its typical graceful style. This Gladiator is currently the only flying example in the world but may soon be joined by a Mk. II variant which is currently being restored by the Fighter Collection in Duxford and should hopefully fly this year. The display consisted of a variety of flypasts and was a very fitting end to the show.
In conclusion, the show suffered many setbacks which were unavoidable yet it still offered an interesting variety of aircraft which displayed in equally spectacular style. The major highlights of the show in my opinion was the army cooperation segment with the Polikarpov Po-2, Auster AOP.11 and Hawker Hind as well as the stunning aerobatics of the Extra EA-300S. I also feel that the Blackburn B.2 put on a wonderfully graceful display. I will definitely consider returning to the Shuttleworth Collection again for another one of their shows… weather permitting.
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