Shuttleworth Collection “At the Movies” Drive-In 2nd August 2020

Building on the great reception received for the debut event in July, the first Sunday of August saw the Shuttleworth Collection repeat their pioneering Drive in airshow format.

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Unlike the last event this was an afternoon show and featured a few more visiting types. It’s a great effort that the Collection are making to not simply rely on the based aircraft to make up the display. In a season like this I am sure that many would simply be glad to see any aeroplanes displaying.

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The show was opened by an airshow debut (to my knowledge) of the Cranfield University Jetstream 31 in the capable hands of Dodge Bailey. The Jetstream had already been spotted practicing at Old Warden earlier in the season and as this year is likely to mark its last year flying for the university it was great to see it flying. It is probably the first time a Jetstream has flown in an airshow since the Royal Navy retired their examples in 2011. The routine was flown in typical Old Warden style and looked great in the early afternoon sun.

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With John Romain scheduled to perform a flypast in Spitfire PL983 otherwise known as the NHS Spitfire at the British Grand Prix, it was hoped we might catch a glimpse as the Spitfire transmitted. Sure enough a flypast from the Spitfire was scheduled on the program. Much to the surprise of everyone on the ground we were treated to another polished full display from John Romain in the Spitfire.

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The main focus for the afternoon’s flying was starts of TV and film. The Collection has a wide array of film stars in its own right but the organisers had gone above and beyond to arrange visiting aircraft that suitably fitted the theme.

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Two rotary winged visitors fit the bill well with the Bell 47 giving a nod to MASH and the North Weald based Huey paying tribute to Apocalyse Now and many other films.

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There were plenty of WW1 types in the show, with the Collection’s Avro 504, Sopwith Triplane and Sopwith Pup being joined by Old Warden based Neiuport 17 and Sywell based BE2 replica completing the line up.

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Alongside the TV/Film theme there were also a few nods to the traditional family theme of the August Sunday show. This included the regular Little/Large Extra routine and the Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers. The aerobatic highlight of the afternoon was a rare performance from Pete Kynsey in the Bucker Jungman. This routine was a masterclass in low level aerobatics.

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A number of racer combinations have been put together over the years at Old Warden but Sunday’s show saw a first as far as I know. The Hawk Speed Six led the pair of Mew Gulls through a great formation display before splitting into a Mew Gull tailchase and graceful solo from the Hawk Speed Six.

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An unlikely inclusion in an airshow line up, unless on glider tug duties, is the Piper Pawnee. Originally designed with crop dusting in mind this machine certainly has a unique appearance. It was even more of a head-scratcher to see it paired with the DH88 Comet in the flying programme.

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All became clear when I made the connection the “Planes” cartoon film from a few years ago, which follows the journey of a crop-duster to become a round the world racer! One of the other “characters” in the film is the Comet. I’d certainly say that the sight of the Comet and Pawnee running in for a loose formation pass will certainly never be repeated!

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With the weather precluding the Edwardians (which would have been a great nod to “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”) it was left to the collection’s Spitfire and Sea Hurricane to close the show. The Spitfire performed a graceful aerobatic performance to close the show.

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The Shuttleworth Collection has once again shown that airshows can happen with appropriate social distancing in this challenging time. Once again the organisation was brilliant and will hopefully continue to develop as long as it needs to. The September shows have also now been confirmed as drive-ins so get your tickets while you can once they are on sale!

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