With June having started, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the aviation activity that took place in May. Unlike 12 months prior, 2021 has been rich for opportunities with a number of events taking place. Across May I attended two Old Warden shows, a Duxford Flying Day, a great first show of the year at Stow Maries and a wonderful day at Headcorn with Aero Legends active. I’ve already put out full reports for the Old Warden events but with another busy weekend on the horizon, I wanted to get some initial thoughts out on some of the other events before full reports follow throughout June.
Shuttleworth Drive Ins
At the time of writing there have already been two of the Drive In format shows that Shuttleworth Pioneered in 2020. These events have allowed the collection to continue to host shows and have proved very popular.
The season premiere was a sell out and saw a wide range of collection and visiting types in the air. Undoubted highlights were the Catalina and Buchon, both operating out of Old Warden and putting on wonderful routines bookending the days flying. This show also saw the debut of James Brown in his Harvard and a wonderful return from the Bristol Fighter.
The first evening show of the year took on a “spies and intrigue” theme, with a pair of Lysander’s being the headline act. The weather certainly fit the theme and sadly resulted in a single pass from the pair of Westland designs and a short but sweet solo from John Romain in the Duxford example. The heavy rains left a wonderfully clear late evening allowing the collection’s racing trio to mesmerise the crowd before the Edwardian pairing of Boxkite and Avro Triplane got their first outing of 2021.
Duxford Flying Day
First introduced back in 2019, the “Flying Days”, formally known as “Showcase Days” are essentially standard museum days including a short 1-2 hour flying display. These shows typically focus on based types so plenty of warbirds are generally active. These events provided the only public flying at Duxford in 2020 and it was great to get things underway for 2021.
There were plenty of highlights but stand out for me was the return of the Fighter Collection to the Duxford skies. The pairing of Corsair and Spitfire V was wonderful, particularly the aerobatic solo from the Spitfire. The day was closed with a wonderful Spitfire/Hurricane pair and typically polished Spitfire solo.
Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar
This one has been in the diary for a while now, having originally booked a tour back in November. Various lockdowns and local restrictions meant that the tour didn’t happen til a very windy Sunday afternoon. Thankfully conditions still allowed TE308 on flight duties so we got to enjoy a close up look at this wonderful machine in action.
Another highlight was catching MJ755 known as the “Greek Spitfire” as it turns out just a couple of days before it’s departure to Greece (which happened to pass over my house, which was a nice surprise!)
Aero Legends at Headcorn
I was lucky enough to be gifted a T6 Harvard flight with Aero Legends for Christmas but the weather had put a stop to the first few attempts. 29th May was a case of “third times a charm” with not only great weather but also the first fly alongside event of the year, meaning the single seat Spitfire TD314 and Hurricane P3717 were very active throughout the day either side of the flight.
Wings & Wheels at Stow
Returning to Stow for the first time since 2017 certainly felt like returning to an old favourite. A combination of a smaller selection of shows and clashes with other events meant that I haven’t attended a flying display at the wonderful Essex venue since 2016.
This event felt the closest to a normal airshow I’ve known since 2019 thanks to the very limited capacity and the show included some real gems. The highlights certainly being David Beale’s Mew Gull and the wonderful Albatros D.Va from the WW1 Aviation Heritage Trust.