Shuttleworth Military Airshow 2021

Traditionally held on the first Sunday of July, the Shuttleworth Military airshow (pageant in the past) has played host to all manner of wonderful visiting types in the past, together with the collections Military types. In recent years this show has brought sights such as the Avro Vulcan, B-17, Seven Hurricanes, Multiple Spitfires and the P-47 Thunderbolt.

This years’ edition of the event was the first since 2019 with the first half of the 2020 season cancelled due to the pandemic. While there are thankfully an increasing number of shows as things start to unlock in 2021 we are still far from back to having the full range of airshow acts back in action. This led to great speculation as to what visiting performers this show might feature. Given the continued popularity of Shuttleworth’s unique drive in show format it was no surprise that this event sold out long before a participation list was even released. When it was published it was clear attendees would be in for a real treat.

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Visiting acts covered the full spectrum of military aviation from a wonderful trio of non-collection WW1 types up to the airshow debut of Historic Helicopters Sea King HC4. It’s a great testament to the Somerset based team that since the 2019 season they have now returned three of these mighty machines to the air. Watching this large helicopter join the circuit ahead of the show and land in the confines of Old Warden was a real treat.

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A late pair of additions to the flying line up were the opening pair of Duxford based Spitfire XI PL983 and Hispano Buchon “Yellow 10”. PL983, now better known as the “NHS Spitfire” flew at the first two drive in events last year and this show marked it’s first performance at Old Warden this year. It was a wonderful opening sequence in the Spitfire that gave plenty of opportunities to appreciate the “THANK U NHS” message on the underside of the aircraft.

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The opening Spitfire routine was followed by a polished aerobatic performance from the Buchon, finishing with two slow and close passes down the display line. A nice surprise was watching the Duxford fighters join the circuit and land after their routine, marking only the second time a Buchon had landed at Old Warden.

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Gliders are always a big part of the Shuttleworth shows and this event saw a great performance from the Olympia glider and the wonderful Lunak, with the latter putting on a wonderful aerobatic performance.

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The aforementioned Sea King put on an imposing display early on in the programme that made great use of the whole display line. Though a relatively recent retirement it really was great to see a Sea King in a display again. This example being a “junglie” Commando variant made it even more special. I certainly haven’t seen such an example away from a Yeovilton display. The Gazelle Team also put on a great duo display to complete the rotary contingent at the show.

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As mentioned earlier on, there were a wonderful collection of WW1 machines in the flying up. There were a total of nine great war machines in the air across three slots, including three “visiting” (though Old Warden based) machines. This trio flew in the second sequence and saw the wonderful rotary powered Bristol Scout replica making it’s first public flight in some time. The Scout was joined for a short while by the Nieuport 17 replica before the Old Warden based SE5a replica flew a display, only it’s second since returning to flight in 2019. It’s a great illustration of the depth in the First World War scene now that a whole display slot at Old Warden can be filled with non Shuttleworth types.

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The show also saw the three Sopwiths fly in a slot, with the Pup and Triplane flying together before the Camel flew a display. The final WW1 slot of the day saw the Bristol Fighter, M1C and Avro 504k take to the air.

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A welcome inclusion in the event, given the theme was a wonderful extended solo from the DH88 Comet. The Comet was briefly evaluated by the RAF with the serial K5084 so fitted the theme well.

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Another wonderful sequence from Shuttleworth machines was the RAF Trainer segment. This saw the DH82a Tiger Moth lead the Avro Tutor, Miles Magister and DHC Chipmunk flying together. A great formation sequence was followed up with an extended tailchase before the group split into two and effectively flew two spirited pairs displays at either end of the extended display line.

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Regular Old Warden attendees will be familiar with the “special ops” pair of Lysander and Po-2. This show saw the welcome appearance of the Old Warden based Cessna Bird Dog flying in a duo routine with the Lysander, showing a slightly different pairing from the Special Ops role.

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The show was closed with a real treat. The Shuttleworth Gladiator led the Collection Spitfire and Hurricane P3717 in a wonderful early war trio. The three ship flew a number of passes before a spectacular on crowd break. This was followed by a brief Gladiator solo and then a magnificent Spitfire/Hurricane pair. After a few passes in formation the two fighters split and proceeded to spend 10 or so minutes trading places on the front and back display lines with the rear machine flying graceful aerobatics as the close machine performed wonderful close passes. Even the ever detonating weather could not deter those in attendance from enjoying this wonderful sequence.

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This was another great Shuttleowrth show and there are still plenty more to come. Up next is the “Flying For Fun” Evening show 17th July.

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