First introduced back in 2016, the Fly Navy shows at Old Warden became a must see event throughout the late 2010s. After sitting out 2020 and 2021, the event made a wonderful come back with one of the best line ups to date. As always with Old Warden, a wonderful array of ground displays and vehicles were on show, with plenty of chances to get up close to the machines the collection keeps in working condition. There were also opportunities to take a bus ride or tour the swiss garden. Perhaps the biggest highlight for the aviation enthusiast on the ground was the public debt of the wonderful Maurice Farman “longhorn”. This imposing machine is yet to be covered so offered a great chance to examine the immense detail in this great war design.
A great addition for this years event was a wide array of Rotary wing machines, perhaps most closely assocaitied with the Fly Navy theme in recent years. The first act of the day was the Gazelle team making one of their first appearances at a four ship, itself a great throwback to the Royal Navy Sharks team of years gone by.
Fixed wing flying got underway in the most fitting way for such an event, with some carrier based fighters of world war 2. The Shuttleworth Collection Sea Hurricane led Navy Wings Griffon powered Seafire XVII, with the collection’s Mk V Spitfire AR501 playing the role of an early Seafire. The Seafire and Spitfire flew a wonderful flowing aerobatic tail chase, making for a wonderful start.
A trio of Navy trainers flew a wonderful display courtesy of Kennet Aviation and Navy Wings, with a Stearman leading a pair of T-6 Texans.
Another rotary wing highlight saw the Historic helicopters fleet return to Old Warden, this time with the Junglie Sea King and the wonderful Wessex. The pair flew a close formation routine before splitting into short solo displays. Later in the display a trio of Westland Wasps wrapped up the rotary wing component.
A centrepoint of the afternoon’s flying was a wonderful extended solo from the Fighter Collection’s Hawker Nimrod complete with graceful aerobatics. Currently the only airworthy Hawker biplane being regularly flown (and the only to fly since 2019) it is wonderful to see the Nimrod back at Old Warden.
WW1 Naval Aviaation was well represented with the RNAS painted Sopwith Pup and Bristol Scout replica.
The Duxford based Catalina left it’s typical impression on Old Warden with another great display before the main flying display finale.
Since that first Fly Navy event in 2016, the Fighter Collection have been bringing their big navy warbirds over for the show. This year saw the Wildcat and Corsair operating from Old Warden with the Bearcat joining from Duxford. A wonderful chance to see these rare types up close. Sadly the Wildcat had to depart back to Duxford with a snag before the display slot but made for a great sight and sound departing off the grass at Old Warden. The Bearcat and Corsair joined up with the Sea Hurricane, Seafire and Spitfire for a great finale.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a great reminder of the Old Warden magic with an extended flight from the Avro Triplane. Fly Navy 22 picked up right where the previous events had left off before the pandemic and while the weather wasn’t quite what could be hoped for it made for a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment with some truly star items.