The final show of the 2014 season was the Shuttleworth Race Day Airshow which was held at Old Warden Aerodrome. The show revolved around an air racing theme and also featured displays to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the MacRobertson Air Race and pay tribute to the Cape Record holders. There was also plenty of other varied displays synonymous with Old Warden Shows and had the similar relaxed feel that most shows lack which makes the whole day a highly enjoyable affair.
The flight line walk showcased the various aircraft types that would be flying in the displays as well as some other examples that were on static display including the Polikarpov Po-2, a Spartan 7W Executive and Peter Holloway’s newly acquired CASA 1-133C Jungmeister resplendent in Spanish Air Force markings.
Kicking off the show in spectacularly noisy style was Graham Peacock’s Hawker Hunter T.7 which performed a tantalizing display in close quarters to the crowd. This classic jets has become quite a regular visitor to the various events at Old Warden and was great addition to the show.
A significantly quieter aircraft was the unusual shape of the Shuttleworth Collection’s newly restored Fauvel AV.36 glider which demonstrated some surprising agility after being towed up by the Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub.
Another visiting aircraft that put on an incredible display was Hangar 11’s North American P-51D Mustang “Jumpin Jacques” in the capable hands of Peter Teichman who has visited the shows numerous times and always leaves a lasting impression on the crowds.
We then came to one of the show’s centerpieces which commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the MacRobertson Air Race which was held in 1934. The race began at RAF Mildenhall in East Anglia and the finish line was at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. The aircraft featured in this display included a visiting De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth and Miles M.2W Hawk Trainer, a home-based De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide and Miles M.3A Falcon Major along with the Shuttleworth Collection’s Desoutter Mk. I and the recently restored De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House”. The Comet made its debut return to flight in September this year after being grounded since the 1990’s and this particular aircraft was the overall winner of the MacRobertson Air Race. This striking aircraft led the others in a series of flat flypasts before performing an incredible solo display.
Next up was a gathering of aircraft involved in the England to Cape Record. The aircraft was the Shuttleworth Collection’s latest acquisition, the Percival E.2H Mew Gull which Alex Henshaw flew to set the original record from Gravesend Airport to Wingfield Aerodrome in Cape in 1939. There was also a replica of this aircraft type and a Vans RV-7 which was flown in 2010 by Steve Noujaim who broke the Cape Record set by Alex Henshaw. The trio flew with the Comet before flying in formation and splitting into their own routines.
There was also a second glider display with the Shuttleworth Collection’s Elliott’s Primary EoN which performed a very graceful decent after being towed up by the Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub.
The Lympne Light Aircraft Trials were also represented in the flying display with the pairing of the Hawker Cygnet Replica and English Electric Wren, both being operated by the Shuttleworth Collection. The trials were held in 1923, 1924 and 1926 to encourage the development of light aircraft for private operation. Whilst the Cygnet performed some sedate circuits, the Wren was towed by a large bungee cord in order for it to take off and ‘fly’ along the airfield. The duo were also joined by a flying scale model of the Wren which interestingly enough had a lot more performance and perhaps even power than the full size aircraft.
Returning to the racing theme of the show we saw a display revolving around Formula 1 Air Racing which included Catch 22 Racing’s Taylor JT.2 Titch and the Duxford based LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina”. The pair flew several circuits much like the kind you would expect from Formula 1 Air Racing before the Cosmic Wind put on a small aerobatic display to conclude the display.
The Shuttleworth Collection also provided an impressive contingent of World War Two aircraft which are regular performers at Old Warden. This included the striking shape of the Westland Lysander Mk. IIIA, the Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk. IB and the Gloster Gladiator Mk. I which all flew several passes in formation before separating to perform their own excellent routines.
The last racing set piece of the show was a handicapped mock air race which featured nine aircraft which all took off at varied times so that all the participants arrived at the finish line at the same time which allowed pilot skill to be the solo determining factor of the race. The racers featured a variety of visiting and Shuttleworth Collection owned aircraft including a pair of Chiltern D.W.1s, a Comper C.L.A.7 Swift, a De Havilland DH.60X Hermes Moth, a Miles M.2L Hawk Speed Six, a Miles M.3A Falcon Major, Miles M.11A Whitney Straight, a Miles M.14A Magister I and a Spartan 7W Executive. The race spanned several points in the local area and upon fifth lap of the circuit one of the Chilterns was declared the winner.
Despite all the racing aircraft featured in the flying display, the warbirds of the First World War were still represented by solo displays by the Shuttleworth Collection’s RAF S.E.5A and Bristol M.1C Replica. Both of these types were also used in air races at some point including an S.E.5 winning the Morris Cup in 1927 and an M.1 being awarded the handicap prize in the 1922 Aerial Derby.
The main part of the flying display was closed by a wonderful demonstration of unlimited aerobatics by Kester Scrope in his Zivko Edge 540 which has taken part in the final shows at Old Warden for the last few years. This type is probably the most popular aircraft to use in modern air racing with a large majority of winners using this type in the Red Bull Air Race World Series.
It was not time for the visiting aircraft to depart to their home bases and along with the display items there was also some other interesting vintage types. These included an Andreasson BA-4B, a De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth, a De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth II, a De Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth, D&M Miller’s De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide, a De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk. 22, a Piper L-4J Grasshopper and a Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1.
With the weather being calm enough, the Edwardian aircraft of the Shuttleworth Collection were able to display in the evening. The Roe IV Triplane Replica flew first and was unfortunately not joined by the Bristol Boxkite Replica which only managed a few hops up the runway. The Blackburn Monoplane Type D also put on a lovely sedate performance whilst the overall finale for the season was the Deperdussin Type A Monoplane, a type used in early air racing making a few hops down the runway.
This season finale had everything you would expect from a show as relaxed as those held at Old Warden. The theme of Air Racing was well executed and represented by a large variety of types including actual race winners and record holders such as the De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House” and the Percival E.2H Mew Gull. The major highlights of the show for me were the celebrations of the MacRobertson Air Race and the Cape Record Holder. The Comet solo display was simply fantastic and I feel that the visiting Hawker Hunter T.7 and North American P-51D Mustang “Jumpin Jacques” are also worthy of mention. I look forward to returning to Old Warden next year and the whole 2015 season.
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