Shuttleworth Collection Dawn Photoshoot – 19th March 2016

The past few years have seen a rise in the popularity of evening and night shoots across the aviation community, especially during the off-season. Following on from Shuttleworth’s first venture into night-shoots back in October they offered the unique chance to catch the collection’s aircraft in the early morning light and sunrise. Having never attended a night-shoot before, the idea of a dawn-shoot seemed unique enough to be my first. There was just the small problem of getting to Old Warden for 5am!


Collection staff working hard first thing to get the aircraft into position.

The morning promised to be a great event with a WWI collection consisting of the Sopwith Pup, Bristol F2b, SE5a and Avro 504 sharing the stage with the Gladiator and Parnall Elf. Plenty of aircraft all accompanied by period vehicles and re-enactors.


The Pup, 504 and Gladiator wait in the darkness for the event to begin.

Typically of course the day arrived with a less than idea forecast, or at least a cloudy one! Undeterred we arrived at Old Warden shortly before 5 to be welcomed by the sight of the Gladiator being pulled out of the hangar. The First World War machines were also lined up out on the airfield. I took the opportunity to get a few shots of these graceful machines in the atmosphere of the darkness.


The rest of the collection’s WWI aircraft waiting in the hangar.

Then it was time for a cup of tea and a much needed Bacon Roll. Before long it was time for the event brief from Chief Pilot Dodge Bailey and Shuttleworth photographer Darren Harbar.

The large group of attendees were then led down the airfield to the main display area which had been set up next to the control tower. This would have provided a fantastic backdrop of the sun rising above the rolling hills beyond the end of the runway.

Sadly after the first 20 minutes or so of twilight conditions, which did provide some great opportunities (though I managed to spend most of this time taking pictures of the Gladiator!!), a typically grey day emerged, with little evidence of the sun rising at all. None-the-less, despite the weather the set pieces and rare aircraft provided plenty of entertainment.

Each aircraft had a well thought out scene surrounding it and the aircraft were suitably spaced so clear shots of individual machines were easily achieved and the event gave me a great insight to these photoshoot events.

The event also included access to the collection which gave me the chance to grab some shots showing the progress made on the Sopwith Triplane, Lysander and Spitfire all of which are looking much closer to flying again than on my last visit as you can see below.

I certainly look forward to attending more of these events in future, both evening and dawn. I hope the Shuttleworth Collection saw the event as a success and hopefully the weather will be in their favor for any future dates.

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