Yesterday (18th May 2017) marked a historic milestone for the Shuttleworth Collection and the UK WW1 aviation scene. As of yesterday afternoon the UK now boasts a fully accurate, rotary powered, airworthy Sopwith Camel. Dodge Bailey took the aircraft up for a test flight from Old Warden under grey skies, completing an already impressive line up of First World War fighters and Sopwiths in particular.
This type as many of you know is the stuff of legend, without a doubt having that same “Spitfire” factor with the general public as being an icon of a conflict. The Camel also has that added “Biggles” attraction, being made a household name in those famous books. A wider history of the Camel and indeed the entire Sopwith lineage can be found on this site here.
This first flight is the culmination of a 22 year project, the majority of which was carried out by the Northern Aeroplane Workshop, who were also responsible for the collection’s immaculate Sopwith Triplane and Bristol M1C. (Further history on this particular restoration, along with some stunning images of the first flight can be found on the excellent Vintage Aviation Echo here. I’d really reccomend taking a look at the rest of this site as they already have some incredible content online.)
I wanted to put this post up to mark the occasion and congratulate all at Old Warden and the Northern Aeroplane Workshop and to simply day-dream about the incredible airshow line ups this now allows. The Sopwith hangar that we saw at the Edwardian Pageant last year is now, Tabloid aside, complete and airworthy. We are the unbelievable prospect of Sopwith Pup, Dove, Triplane, Camel and Snipe all with the potential to fly together.
This certainly brightened a dull day for many yesterday and could prove to be one of the most significant returns to the UK airshow circuit in a number of years.