The Shuttleworth Family Airshow was also transformed into a ‘Drive-In’ event at the beginning of August. The ‘Drive-in’ appropriately had ‘At the Movies’ as its theme with a selection of aircraft which had made significant appearances on the silver screen. As well as the collection’s own aircraft, the show also featured a number visiting displays to complement the themes and family feel to the event.
Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography by the author.
The Shuttleworth Collection’s second drive-in airshow ran much like the first such event in July though the parking area was expanded slightly. The Family Airshow was the Collection’s first full Sunday show of the year so involved a larger flying display with more visiting acts. The weather was kind though the slighty gusty winds prevented the Edwardian aircraft from flying at the end of the day.
The Drive-In format does mean that several elements of more traditional Shuttleworth Collection airshows are unable to take place and hence there were no traders, no vehicle parade nor the vintage fun fair which has been part of previous family airshows. One popular part of Shuttleworth Airshows, the Pilot Chat, did however return in a slightly modified form with commentator Ben Dunnell leading a fascinating interview with Rob Millinship about flying the Hollywood movie ‘Flyboys.’
Opening the flying display was a visiting display unique to Old Warden, Cranfield University’s BAe Jetstream 31. The aircraft is also known as the ‘National Flying Laboratory Centre’ and is used a flying classroom for Cranfield students aspiring to be flight test engineers as well as other tasks for the University. It was displayed at Old Warden by collection pilot Roger Bailey who gave a superb account of the twin turbo prop with some lovely sweeping passes highlighting the elegant lines of the Handley Page design. The Jetstream is also a film star in its own right and perhaps mostly famously appeared in the James Bond movie ‘Moonraker.’
Another Bond link came from an further visiting aircraft which gave a very spirited display, Bell UH-1H Iroquois G-HUEY. This aircraft is actually a former Argentinian aircraft captured and used by British forces during the Falklands War after which it was repatriated to the UK. In 1986 the aircraft played a starring role in the James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights’ when it was used to extract a treacherous rogue Russian intelliegnce officer from a MI6 safehouse. More widely however, the Bell UH-1 will forever be remembered for the memorable flying sequences in Vietnam War film epic, Apocalypse Now. Joining the UH-1 in the display was another visiting helicopter, Bell 47G G-MASH which represented many different movie appearances by the type as well as the famous TV Series – M.A.S.H.
Many of the Collection’s own aircraft have been movie stars, not least the unique fleet of World War One aircraft which have appeared in numerous productions. The Avro 504K, Sopwith Pup and Sopwith Triplane took the air and were joined in the display by the replica Nieuport 17 owned by Rob Gauld-Galliers which was one of aircraft used in the production of ‘Flyboys’ which took place in the UK and in particular RAF Halton. Also flying in its own slot later in the afternoon was the fantastic RAF BE2c replica flown by Matthew Boddington. The aircraft was originally constructed for ‘Biggles Sweeps the Sky’ but that movie never entered production. Now regularly seen as part of the Great War Display Team, the BE2c has subsequent been involved in television work notably for several First World War documentaries.
Several Old Warden favourites flew throughout the afternoon. The Fauvel AV26 glider showed off its aerobatic prowess in the hands of Graham Saw while the traditional barnstorming display involved the DH82a Tiger Moth, Miles Magister, Southern Marlet, Piper Super Cub and DHC-1 Chipmunk. More colourful displays came from the Parnell Elf and a racing three-ship involving the Miles Hawk Speed Six and a pair of Percival Mew Gulls.
The day of the Family Airshow also fell on the 80th Anniversary of Richard Shuttleworth’s death and his own de Havilland DH60X Moth featured in the flying display alongside two of the Collection’s other unique biplanes, the DH51 ‘Miss Kenya’ and the Avro Tutor all of which also have various filming credits in their history.
As well as film stars, the show also including many visiting family favourites. Providing an interlude from aircraft displays were the Wings Parachute Display Team jumping from an Airvan demonstrating some high-performance canopy skills as well as the more familiar ram air canopies. There was also some superb aerobatic flying. For pilot James Hepnar it was his first ever flying display and he performed a very nice sequence in the Shoreham based Extra 300L G-XXTR. By contrast to the powerful Extra, Pete Kynsey gave a really stand out display in the Bucker Jungmann showing off the aircraft superb aerobatic qualities of the pre-war training aircraft.
More Extra aerobatics came from the Extra Duo or ‘Little and Large’ team of Chris Burkett and Mike Williams. Their display matching a radio-controlled model Extra 300 with a full-sized aircraft is very much an Old Warden favourite and one that really captures the audience attention everytime. Another eye-catching visiting act were the Aerosuperbatic Wingwalkers who returned to Old Warden with their pairs displays which sees a few subtle tweaks for 2020.
Old Warden airshows often include some very unusual combinations and the Family Airshow perhaps had one of the most unexpected pairings to mark Disney’s animated film, ‘Planes.’ The sequence saw a Booker based Piper Pawnee display alongside the collection’s own de Havilland DH88 Comet representing the characters ‘Dusty Crophopper’ and ‘Bulldog.’
Completing the film and TV star line-up were a number of Second World War aircraft. For the second show in a row, John Romain displayed the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Supermarine Spitfire PRXI with it’s ‘Thank U NHS’ message emblazoned on the underside. John was airborne for a flypast over the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and surprised the Old Warden audience with a full display over the expected flypast. Soon after the Spitfire, the Collection’s Gloster Gladiator and Westland Lysander flew a sequence together as the ‘Mercury Pair.’
The show was closed by the Shuttleworth Collection’s Hawker Sea Hurricane Ib and Supermarine Spitfire Vc flown by John Hurrell and Stu Goldspink. Both were used in the movie ‘Battle of Britain’ with the Hurricane seen on the ground while the Spitfire took park in aerial sequences. Much more recently both appeared in ‘Pearl Harbor’ as well as many TV appearances.
Like the first Drive-In airshow, Shuttleworth should be commended for developing the Drive-in format and executing it so well. Add in a flying display full of variety and some unusual displays and it was another very fine afternoon out in the Bedfordshire countryside.