(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

Shuttleworth Evening Air Display

Where? Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, Bedfordshire
When? 14/08/2010

Who would have thought that after a highly variable forecast and heavy rain showers in the afternoon Shuttleworth's Evening Air Display commemorating the Battle of Britain would become a glorious event?! With the late start of the flying program around 17h30 there was fortunately enough time for the rain to pour down in the afternoon and for the storm clouds and lightings to move east of the airfield.

The provisional flight program promised a lot of aircraft in the air, however the RAF BBMF dropped out of the list with their Spitfire and Hurricane in the last moment.
With the BoB theme in mind the flying started with the Sea Hurricane and the Me108, which is actually a Nord 1002. Following the plot the 108 was shot by the Hurricane after some passes and started to eject a smoke plume.

Barnstorming was next with the Tiger Moth, Chipmunk and two Maggies in the air. They did try to throw flour bags on a ground target as well as flying through two poles that were set up by the ground crew – a very entertaining spectacle (to see them missing the targets ;) ) and a good opportunity to see some nice photo passes and low fly-bys.

Furthermore blessed with nice late afternoon sunshine were the displays of the Gloster Gladiator and the Spitfire MkIX – MH434 – of the OFMC. MH434 came in directly from its homebase Duxford and was surely one of the highlights related to the BoB. The Hawker Hind, which also flew during this event, was besides the Gladiator another bare metal skin shining that used the low sun to its full effect by nicely reflecting the by then golden rays.

The next topics were not so thrilling, though interesting and entertaining nonetheless. The colourful Kirby Kite glider used for RAF training in WWII as well as Tiger Moth aerobatics while glider gained height and a Super Cub. Furthermore the Blackburn B2 was another British classic performing a flight display.

The planned Lysander started its engine, but had to shut down shortly afterwards due to problems with its magnetos. This gave some time to prepare for the next WW II flying and it was again time for the '108' and the Hurricane.

Furthermore the only recently restored Fieseler Storch flew and presented a very nice 'cat-and-mouse' play with the Hurricane that did not succeed catching him due to its low speed advantage. Of course glorious sunlight was again present during this display.

WWI was next: the Se5a and Bristol F2b took to the air and they were a first sight for me. It was most amazing to see those two buzzing through the air. Another first and highlight for me was also the Sopwith Triplane.

By then the sun had nearly disappeared below the horizon, or at least behind the clouds that were present in the meantime. But the wind was calm and the commentator announced that they were bringing out the "Edwardians" to fly them. Luckily he did, because the conditions for these precious jewels have to be immaculate as they are very delicate to fly.The Boxkite and the Avro Triplane are well known from their appearance in the "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" movie from 1965 and are always a crowd pleaser due to their strange appearance and the pilots waving friendly during their fly-bys.

But the real star from an enthusiasts point-of-view must be the Blériot, the World's oldest airworthy aircraft, build in 1909. It is hard to imagine that is now more than 100 years ago that someone build this wooden airframe, which is still flying along the whole runway length, and each landing was a thrilling moment.
And with the Deperdussin and some moments there were even three of the Edwardians simultaneously in the air!

Though the display lasted only from 17h30 until around 20h00, this event was once again very worthwhile to attend and one of my best times at Shuttleworth ever, especially due to all these old machines that I saw in the air for the first time.

After they all were back safe on the ground and the visitors in their cars to drive home in the dark, it started drizzling again, just in time to head to the nearest Pub and to raise the glasses to this successful event!

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