The early July Sunday show at Old Warden has hosted the collection’s Military Pageant now for a number of years. This show gives visitors the chance to take in the incredible line up of based military aircraft along with some fine selections from the wider UK warbird scene. This year saw events focused on Army Liaison.
The opening sequence has to be up there as one of the most memorable starts to an Old Warden display in some time. The familiar sound of a merlin echoed across the airfield as Richard Grace opened up the throttle on TF-51D Mustang “Miss Velma”, making its first Old Warden experience. It was a real pleasure to see this familiar fighter on the ground at Shuttleworth after years of fond memories of the Mustang with the Fighter Collection at Duxford.
Richard Grace delivered one of his trademark aerobatic routines that are quickly becoming a very impressive calling card on the airshow circuit. Graceful aerobatics combined with sweeping topsides very much in the “Hanna” style will always be well received. Hopefully this is a sight that can be repeated once Miss Velma has been repaired following the well executed emergency landing carried out at Flying Legends a week after this show.
After the Mustang completed its solo display it was time for a classic airshow pair. Miss Velma formed up with B-17 Sally B for a couple of formation passes before the latter began its own solo performance. Peter Kaypurs has built a reputation over the years for his dramatic displays in the Dutch B25 and this display was very much in that style. Some stunning low level passes combined with wonderful tight turns made for one of the best B17 routines I have seen.
The Army Liaison theme saw displays from visiting types, such as particularly spirited display from a pair of Austers. The Army Air Corps Historic Flight put on a pairs routine with their Westland Scout and de Havilland Canada Beaver.
Perhaps the most surprising sequence covering this theme was the trio of DH82 Tiger Moth, Bristol Fighter and Westland Lysander. The Bristol and Tiger performed a graceful tail chase routine while the Lysander performed fast passes in behind, presenting a unique photo opportunity for those on the ground.
There were plenty of other First World War aircraft on show as well with Stu Goldspink delivering his first display of the season in the Sopwith Triplane, Dodge Bailey giving a masterful account of the Bristol M1C and Jean Munn showing the BE2e to be far more manoeuvrable than you would ever expect!
Following in from their stunning debut performance, the Military Pageant saw a second flight from the three Old Warden based Hurricanes together. This show saw an extended series of three ship passes before R4118 and the Sea Hurricane broke off into a low level pairs display while Stu Goldspink climbed to height in P3717.
What followed was a solo performance that outshone the previous performance from the same pilot and airframe combination. Flowing high level aerobatics gave way to a seemingly endless series of topside passes in glorious sunshine. It simply doesn’t get much better than that.
The sight of John Romain in the Bristol Blenheim is always welcome and the Military Pageant saw the first performance of 2017 for the Bristol Bomber. Right from the dramatic run in down the hill and round the bend this display lived up to the Blenheim’s airshow reputation.
For the second show in a row conditions even settled enough for the Edwardians to take to the air. The Avro Triplane and Bristol Boxkite replicas took to the skies together and flew what has to be the most spirited performance I have seen from these two aircraft. Close formation topside passes are certainly something I haven’t seen from these replicas before. It made for a memorable and unexpected conclusion to a simply flawless days flying.
The Military Pageant always provides an opportunity to see the collection’s impressive line-up of military types in the air alongside some rare and notable visiting aircraft and this year was no exception and added further to the Collection’s incredible recent run of shows.