Another belated review for one of the fantastic Old Warden evening airshows. These events provide a wonderful experience to enjoy a summers evening in the beautiful surroundings of Old Warden and (at least in theory) a chance to enjoy calmer conditions and see some of the collection’s lighter machines take to the air.
The June evening show was certainly slightly better off than the first evening show of the year but it was not uninterrupted, with an extended rain break before the show finished.
As the name suggests, the central theme of this show was the 75th anniversary of the DHC Chipmunk, The collection had amassed an impressive selection of Chipmunks, both on static and flying display. There were three display slots dedicated to the type, starting with a rare appearance (certainly the first time I’d seen it in a flying display) from the Spanhoe based “Supermunk” flown by Richard Ellingworth. This aircraft is powered by a Lycoming powerplant, which gives a different enough appearance to a stock Chipmunk, but it is also fitted with a single seat cockpit and canopy as part of an agricultural conversion. Finished off with a striking bumble bee style paintscheme and you are left with an impressive looking machine.
A military Chipmunk pair flew later on, with two T10 examples representing the RAF and Army use of the type. A lovely low level formation routine followed, giving another chance to enjoy a different selection of this famous trainer. On the ground, the Navy Wings example was also on hand to complete this trio of British military operators.
Balbos are a familiar sight at airshows in recent years and it was fitting that the Chipmunk got one as part of this show. To start off, we were treated to a four ship appearance from the Red Sparrows team out of Audley End. This was particularly significant as it featured the UK airshow debut for the Canadian Air Force Machine, which incorporates a number of different features than the more familiar examples of the Chipmunk. The obvious change is the inclusion of a bubble canopy but there are notable differences to the landing gear and landing light as well.
Following the Red Sparrows routine a further three Chipmunks joined them (from the Collection and Vintage Pair team) to create a seven strong balbo which performed a number of passes. The Vintage Pair team closed off the Chipmunk displays for the day delivering their polished formation routine in their beautiful examples.
Of course as with any Old Warden show, it wasn’t all dedicated to one type and there were some real highlights elsewhere in the programme. To start the show we were treated to the long awaited debut of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Hurricane Iic following it’s night fighter repaint. The aircraft was joined by Spitfire XVI TE311 for a few passes.
The show also saw a fantastic display from Stu Blanchard in his Miles Gemini (covered as an airshow moment yesterday on this site). There was also a trio of Tiger Moths flying in formation all wearing the same markings as the collection’s example, which made for a great sight. Completing the moth line up there was a performance from the Fox Moth, Leapard Moth and Puss Moth flew a wonderful formation and tailchase display in the fading light. Later on there would also be a show closing performance from a DH60, DH82 and DH60m.
Of course elsewhere we were able to enjoy those familiar Old Warden sights such as the DH88 Comet, Hawk Speed Six, Gladiator, Lysander and Spitfire. In truth though, this show was really about those wonderful lighter types and they were quite rightly given a focus on this occasion.