I remember watching in awe as the first videos were released of the Shuttleworth Collection’s English Electric Wren performing full circuits above Old Warden airfield in early 2019. This feat was repeated again at the first evening show that year, which I sadly missed. Since then, weather has either meant the Wren was unable to fly at all or could only carry out it’s more traditional hops.
Either way, I think it had been since around 2014 since I last saw the Wren running, let alone “in the air”. 2021 saw a new pilot convert to the Wren (Richard Crockett – The Vintage Aviation Echo recently released this excellent interview with Richard on the conversion process) and after a few attempts at previous shows, the July 2021 Evening show provided the right combination of conditions to allow the Wren to not only hope but genuinely soar above Old Warden.
The whole airfield seemed to go completely silent as this unique looking machine wheeled it’s way around the airfield sweeping infront of the trees. It’s remarkable to think that this machine one a light aircraft competition when competing against aeroplanes such as the Cygnet and Anec II which though also unusual, have a slightly more traditional appearance and performance. Watching the Wren flying much more in it’s natural environment was a long way from the days when it needed a bungee assisted launch to even hop a few feet into the air.
It is a real testament to the wonderful work of the Shuttleworth engineering team and the collection pilots that we are now able to enjoy wonderful sights such as this. It’s also fitting that it was such a beautiful summers evening that saw the return of the Wren in full flight at a public show for a few years.