The 2016 season had finally come full circle and I found myself at one of my favourite venues for the finale show of the season, The Shuttleworth Collection. This year’s season finale was themed around air racing and the 1920’s. There was lots of different racing aircraft featured in the show and the ground entertainment also reflected this theme including multiple vintage vehicles and motorbikes sprinting down the runway in a friendly competition prior to the flying. The weather was clear and sunny and provided a perfect backdrop to a wonderful day of flying.
Opening the show was a unique spectacle, glider racing. This set piece featured three vintage gliders including the Slingsby T.6 Kite prototype, the Shuttleworth Collection’s Slingsby T.6 Kirby Kite and Graham Saw’s Slingsby T.13 Petrel which were towed up by the Collection’s Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub and a visiting Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee D. The trio slowly descended to ground and incorporated some graceful turns on the way down which gave the show an interesting (if quiet) start.
Kicking the show up a gear was Peter Teichman in the North American P-51D Mustang “Tall In The Saddle” from his Hangar 11 Collection who put on a stunning display, showcasing the power of this World War Two fighter. This aircraft type is also one of the more common types flown in the Reno Air Races.
We then saw a demonstration of Formula One Air Racing which feature some speedy little planes including Pete Kynsey’s LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina”, Catch 22 Air Racing’s Taylor JT-2 Titch and a Bushby Midget Mustang which put on a series of high speed circuits around the airfield. The ”Ballerina” was of particular note in the display as it was also a Kings Cub Air Race winner in 1964 in the hands of Dennis Hartas.
Next we saw a pair of record breakers in the form of the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House”, winner of the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race and David Beale’s Percival E.2H Mew Gull Replica representing the race records achieved by the type. The two racers performed some formation flypasts before flying their own solo displays with plenty of high speed passes.
More air racing action was up next with the first of two mock air races with this one being restricted to aircraft with a maximum speed of 150mph or less. This handicapped race featured the Shuttleworth Collection’s Comper C.L.A.7 Swift, Hawker Tomtit Mk. I and Parnell Elf as well some visiting aircraft including a De Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth, the BAe Systems Heritage Flight’s De Havilland DH.60 Moth and the Sywell Messenger Trust’s Miles M.38 Messenger 2A.
The show also featured the rare sight of a trio of Chilton D.W.1s flying in formation for the very first time before the three flew a small series of flypasts.
Taking a brief break from the racing theme, we saw show regular Peter Davies performing in his new RotorSport UK Calidus in a tight almost aerobatic display with a very liberal use of smoke.
The second mock air race featured some more potent aircraft with David Beale’s Percival E.2H Mew Gull Replica, Peter Kynsey’s LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina” and Catch 22 Air Racing’s Taylor JT-2 Titch returning to the air. They were joined by Nigel Pickard’s Spartan 7W Executive and Hawker Heritage’s Hawker Hurricane Mk. I where all five aircraft flew a series of circuits over the countryside before the Hurricane flew a brief solo display to conclude this segment.
Aircraft designed by De Havilland were featured next to mark the close proximity of Hatfield Aerodrome where De Havilland was based and the company’s contribution to aviation and air racing. This section of flying featured a quartet of these aircraft including Mark Miller’s De Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth, the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth II, a De Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth and a De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth. The aircraft flew in a loose formation before performing some individual passes.
We were then treated to a spectacular display from Mark Jefferies in his Extra EA-330SC which incorporated some great smoked artistry, tight manoeuvres and unlimited aerobatics. These sort of aircraft are commonly used in aerobatic competitions in which Mark has won several times.
Next up was a segment of World War One aircraft which began with a spirited display by the Shuttleworth Collection’s RAF S.E.5A which was then joined by a Sopwith Dove Replica which was making its first display appearance. The Dove is actually developed as civilian sporting aircraft based on the wartime Sopwith Pup. The Bristol M.1C Replica was unable to join the two biplanes in the air due to the engine not starting.
There was a brief hiatus to the flying display whilst the majority of the visiting aircraft left the airfield including some notable types, a CASA 1-131E Jungmann and a Miles M.38 Messenger 2A which participated in and won the Kings Cup Air Race in 1954 when it was flown by Harold Wood.
The racing theme was concluded with a tribute to the MacRobertson Air Race which consisted of a series of flat flypasts by some aircraft types that participated in this famous event including the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House”, a De Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide, the Collection’s Desoutter I, a Miles M.3A Falcon Major, Peter Holloway’s Miles M.14A Magister I and a De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth. This section of flying was concluded with a spectacular solo display by the Comet in the evening sunlight.
The winds had prevented the more frail aircraft from displaying but the Shuttleworth Collection had one more treat to concluded the display with their Avro 504K which flew a graceful routine in the skies over Old Warden and thus brought an end to the 2016 season.
The show was a highly entertaining affair with the racing theme covered brilliantly with the two mock air races being particular highlights. The star of the show was definitely the Shuttleworth Collection’s De Havilland DH.88 Comet “Grosvenor House” which gave us two fantastic solo displays, Peter Teichman’s North American P-51D Mustang “Tall In The Saddle” and the debut of the Sopwith Dove Replica were also notable highlights. I look forward to returning to this vintage aerodrome in the 2017 season.
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