The Shuttleworth Collection celebrated the summer holidays with its Carnival Airshow at the beginning of August. There was no overriding theme to the flying displays, just a huge amount of colour and fun from a wide variety of different aircraft. For the most part, the weather also played ball – something of an added bonus in a summer which has seen some very unseasonable conditions plague the events industry.
Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography by the author.
I was actually not intending to attend this Shuttleworth Airshow. Instead I had been planning on heading north to Lincolnshire for East Kirkby’s main airshow of the year. However, as the forecasts predicted so well the UK got a soaking on that Saturday. Sadly, that prevented any displays from reaching the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. However, the forecasts also predicted the Sunday would be a much better day so plans were changed to head to Bedfordshire instead.
August is the peak summer holiday season and Shuttleworth main Sunday show of the month has long reflected that with a family feel. The showground is transformed with a sizable vintage fun-fair (with free rides included with admission) and street artists adding to the entertainment. With many away on their holidays and many other events around the country, it is not perhaps the Collection’s best attended event of the year. However, there were a really welcome relaxed feel to the day which still included many of the traditional Old Warden activities so well loved by its more loyal supporters.
While the weather was at least all completely dry and fairly bright, there was still a bit of a breeze which ruled out the Edwardians and some of the Collection’s more delicate aircraft. However, a full main display was presented which included many of the home favourites. There was the usual Second World War combination of Westland Lysander III, Hawker Sea Hurricane Ib and Supermarine Spitfire Vc. The First World War fleet also got an airing with the Bristol F2b Fighter, Avro 504K, Sopwith Triplane plus John Gilbert in his Nieuport 17 reproduction. Adding some colour was a barnstorming section featuring the two Old Warden based Miles Magisters, the Southern Martlet, Blackburn B2 and DHC-1 Chipmunk plus the trio of racing aircraft; the de Havilland DH88 Comet, Percival Mew Gull and Miles Hawk Speed Six. Solo displays came from the EON Primary Glider and the Percival Provost T1. A stand-out display came from the Avro C.19 Anson and Phillip Meeson’s de Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide that gave a memorable joint routine of synchronised passes.
One Shuttleworth Collection aircraft making a very notable return to flying display duties was the Hawker Tomtit. This unique survivor has been absent from the displays for five years with its equally rare Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose 3C radial requiring repairs. Spare parts were simply unavailable so replacement parts had to be fabricated with the result fully inspected and approved by the Light Aircraft Association. It flew again in June 2023 and was finally given its Permit to Fly again in time for the Carnival Airshow.
Another particularly special display for Old Warden featured the Shuttleworth Collection’s own de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth alongside the two pristine yellow examples from the Cambridge Flying Group (CFG). The CFG recently moved to Old Warden after 70 years at Cambridge Airport where they taught the art of flying vintage aircraft with their two Tiger Moths. Sadly however, Cambridge is being redeveloped and CFG found themselves looking for a new home. CFG chairman Peter Wedd told the BBC he was “sad to be leaving Cambridge after 70 years, but this is a start of a new beginning” adding that Old Warden as an ‘amazing airfield’ for the group to operate from.
Alongside the Shuttleworth aircraft were some very interesting visiting aircraft. Adding plenty of blade slap to proceedings was the Bell UH-1H Iroquois G-HUEY from MX Jets Ltd. Based at North Weald, G-HUEY was a former Argentine military aircraft which was captured by British forces during the Falklands conflict. It was brought back to the UK and eventually was operated by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. It also starred in the James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights.’ Under the ownership of MX Jets, the aircraft has been refurbished and repainted into United States Army markings from the Vietnam War.
An interlude from the aircraft displays came from the Wings Parachute Display Team. This is a civilian team, though they are all RAF members or veterans. In additional to the usual flag drops, two of the team demonstrated their speed chutes in very dramatic and rapid approaches into the drop-zone.
More ‘rotary’ action came from the AutoGyro Calidus flown by Peter Troy-Davis. Peter never ceases to amaze the crowd as he shows off the incredible agility and performance of the Autogyro in a tight area. With a good off-crowd breeze, Peter was also able to hover the Calidus as well show off just how stable an autogyro can be.
There was no-missing the solo display from the Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers. Pilot Brian Cornes and wingwalker Libby flew an energetic aerobatic routine with loops, stall turns and and inverted flight before performing some low and slow passes along the crowdline. Their bright orange Boeing Stearman was almost certainly the loudest aircraft in the display aswell with its distinctive rasp echoing around the aerodrome.
Shuttleworth Pilots Jean Munn and Stu Goldspink presented their Pitts S-1S and S-2AE Specials as the Pitts Pair. Despite differing sizes, both aircraft wearing the same elegant black and gold colour schemes and were flown through a routine of close formation and synchronised aerobatics.
The flying display was brought to a close by the Titans Aerobatic Team. Flying an unusual combination of American Champion Xtreme Decathlon and an XtremeAir XA42, pilotds Patrick Wilson and Simon Ansell fly a really polished and pleasing routine of formation aerobatics before spitting and showing the very different performance of the two types.
With some favourable weather, the Carnival Airshow was a very enjoyable and relaxed day-out at Old Warden with something for everyone.