The Shuttleworth Collection had already set the bar incredibly high with their first two shows of the year – June’s Fly Navy show being an incredibly strong contender for show of the year.
The Military Pageant saw a return to a more familiar format for the collection. This show has become a longtime tradition and a time for the collection to get as many of their military aircraft in the air as possible, while inviting a selection of rare and interesting guest aircraft.
This years show was plagued by cancellations and changes during the build up. The show was originally billed as having an impressive gathering of Six Hawker Hurricanes, reduced to two on the day. There were also hopes of having the Avro Lancaster displaying, but this was also postponed following essential maintenance.
While the planned Hurricane line up was heavily effected the collection managed to pull together an incredibly varied and impressive warbird line up for this show.
The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight opened the show with Stu Smiley giving a full display in Mk.II PZ865. It isn’t that often that the flight’s fighters give full performances at Old Warden and Stu Smiley gave a great account of the last Hurricane off the production line.
I’ve commented before this season how great it is to see the Westland Lysander back in the air and it is certainly getting plenty of use, with Frank Chapman putting in another fantastic display. It had been planned that the Storch would make its Old Warden farewell alongside the Lysander, but technical problems meant it was pushed back into a North African set piece alongside the collection’s Sea Hurricane. Peter Holloway performed his trademark display of the Storch’s incredible handling while Chris Huckstep tried his best to catch him in the Sea Hurricane.
The first of the visiting civilian warbirds was ARCO’s Hispano Buchon, still wearing the incredible markings of “Black 2” as applied for the Dunkirk filming currently taking place. This temporary scheme combined with the clip wing tips makes this familiar sight seem like a whole new aeroplane. Steve Jones’ graceful brand of aerobatics and topside passes certainly showed this great looking aeroplane off to great effect.
Inter-War biplanes are always a big part of any Old Warden show and it was the turn of the Hawker Demon and Gloster Gladiator to take up the “Silver Wings” mantle for this show. Rob Millinship flew the Demon while Paul Stone displayed the Gladiator.
The First World War was well presented with the Avro 504, SE5a, Bristol Fighter and Sopwith Pup performing. The provided a great illustration of how much the british scout developed throughout the conflict.
One area of military aviation that can sometimes be played down at airshows is training aircraft. That was certainly not the case at this show, there was an impressive showcase of no fewer than seven training aircraft taking to the skies for a series of formation passes and tailchasing. This sequence included the Avro Tutor, Blackburn B2, Po-2, Tiger Moth, Ryan STA and a pair of Miles Magisters. Not only was this an impressive showcase of flying but Old Warden is the only place on earth where this line up could be seen.
A first time visitor to Old Warden was Mark Davy in his Yak-3. Though this particular example has been based in the UK for a number of years now it has rarely been seen away from Duxford so it was a great sight to see. It was also good to see the owner performing one of his first public displays.
While the Lancaster may not have been available in time for the show, another 4 engined bomber certainly was. Banking in from the south, Peter Kaypurs provided a great display in B17 Sally B. This was the first time I had seen the aircraft at Old Warden and it really was special to see.
The undoubted highlight of the day was the Spitfire sequence. Three examples, a Mk1, MkV and MkIX flew in from Duxford and took over the bedfordshire skies. The MkI and MkIX arrived first, owing to a technical issue with the Mk V, they performed a series of graceful formation passes before breaking off into solo routines. Brian Smith’s routine in MH434 may have been short but it was certainly sweet, with one pass I’m sure many will remember for a while!
Cliff Spink provided the classic, graceful, Spitfire solo in MkI N2300 combining graceful loops with low passes and barrel rolls while the other two aircraft formed up. Now in full working order, Charlie Brown had arrived and joined Brian Smith in MkV BM597. The pair performed a captivating sequence of formation aerobatics over the airfield before all three Spitfire’s joined up for an incredible finale to another classic Shuttleworth sequence.
The main flying display was brought to a close by Peter Techiman in his P-51D Mustang. The Mustang has recently been repainted to represent a 354th FG aircraft “Tall in the Saddle”. Peter certainly showed this new paint scheme off in the summer skies with his classic display of looping and barrel rolls, much more like his classic routines than the display seen back in May. Hopefully we will soon see more of the same as the CAA regulations start to even back out to a more sensible distance.
Conditions had been so calm throughout the day that the collection’s Avro Triplane was able to take to the skies, providing a gentle close to this years Military pageant. Despite a number of different line ups in the lead up to the show certainly lived up to expectations with the Spitfire sequence being a definite highlight. The next show is the Edwardian Pageant with plenty of WW1 aircraft on the line up. With regulations now having returned to the 2015 display lines we should be in for a real treat.