The second Collection evening display of 2017 could well have been a contender for the latest finish to a UK airshow in history, certainly in daylight at least. It was just a few minutes shy of 10pm when the unique Deperdussin’s engine finally shut down leaving the calm of a perfect summers evening. This brought to a close one of the most perfect flying displays you could ever hope to see.
The Collection’s evening displays are always special, that goes without saying, but with the announcement that the show would see the first performance from all three Old Warden based Hurricanes, it became one of the most anticipated shows of the year.
The “Uncovered” viewing opportunities in the aircraft paddock that now fill the afternoons ahead of the evening displays made for a great opportunity to take in the newly arrived Hurricane G-HITT as it basked in the summer sun. This close up access really adds another unique selling point to these evening shows.
The show started with a combination only seen at Old Warden, the DH88 Comet took to the skies accompanied by the Collection’s Mew Gull for a graceful pairs routine before each aircraft broke off into solo routines.
Classic Old Warden routines followed with a pairing of Hawker Tomtit and Avro Tutor, alongside a solo performance from the Lysander.
Then came the main event, the incredible sight and sound of three Hawker Hurricanes bursting into life and taxiing out to the hold. The sight of thee of Hawker’s finest completing their power checks out on the airfield before launching off and climbing into the air is something many at Old Warden that night will cherish. The three aircraft formed up and were soon coming round the bend in close formation.
Once this historic trio had carried out a few passes they broke off, leaving Stu Goldspink to take centre stage in the “new” Hurricane. What followed was arguably one of the greatest Hurricane solo routines you could hope for (only to be surpassed two weeks later by another routine with the same pilot and aircraft combination) this routine combined a graceful series of loops, rolls and quarter clovers at higher level before descending for a seemingly endless series of stunning topside passes. Warbird routines at Old Warden do not come much better than that!
First World War aviation was presented in a Bristol Pairing, with the F2b and M1C taking to the skies together, before the Lympne Trials aircraft slowly took to the stage. The latter included the debut of the Old Warden based Aeronca, which looked particularly graceful in the golden summer sunset.
Amazingly, as the clock struck 9pm, there was still plenty of flying left, with the Edwardian aircraft being positioned on the airfield ready for a rare outing. Before taking a further step back in time we were treated to another display debut, this time Hurricane Heritage’s North American Harvard. Stu Goldspink once again delivered a memorable routine, throwing the Harvard around in the evening light keeping that familiar Harvard rasp calling out for the duration.
Things got a lot quieter when the Edwardian segment began. The Avro Triplane and Boxkite were first into the air, looking in their element in the calm evening skies. We were actually treated to two Triplane displays, with the aircraft landing for a crew change mid-slot. Finally it was the turn of the Deperdussin which crackled its way up and down the runway in four consecutive hops, each increasingly higher, making for a stunning close to the evening’s flying.
The June evening show was a fitting reminder of why these evening displays are so special. They present a full flying programme often in unbelievable light and offer the best chance to see the collection’s early aircraft in the air.