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Evening stars
Avro 504K
Avro Triplane
Bristol Fighter
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Parnall Elf
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Lysander
Ryan PT22
SE5a
Sopwith Triplane
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Sunset over the flightlineSunset delights


Never been to Old Warden? First-timers Fred Davis and Matt Smith report on Shuttleworth's third Evening Air Display of 2004, Saturday 17 July

When Air-Scene UK first arrived early afternoon in time to look around the Shuttleworth Collection, there was a worrying amount of thick cloud overhead Old Warden. The forecast was changeable, and rain threatened. However, we were greeted by the Shuttleworth people with a reassuring "Don't worry, it will blow through and improve in a couple of hours".

It was pleasant meandering in the hangars and by the planes - everyone was friendly and there was lots of chatting going on. People were picnicking and relaxing. But it wasn't simply a local affair - we met up with some photographers who were visiting from Finland! Such is the reputation of Old Warden and its unique atmosphere.

MagisterAt 6 pm, on the dot, a parade of road vehicles ventured along the crowdline. It was very nostalgic, and good to hear the different engines. There were early luxury cars, to rudimentary scooters and farm vehicles, with some people dressed in the style of the day. And then, on cue, the sun started to come out as the aircraft took to the air. As one-by-one the planes powered into the air, the cloud gently rolled away and unveiled a beautiful clear blue sky. The windsock gradually started to droop. Fixed-wing, biplane and triplane, singly or together, we were treated to a lovely display. There were fast runs just in front of the admiring crowd, and slow passes.

Two of the three grass runways were used, and you had to look around all the time to follow everything that was going on. For Miles Gemini on a strafing runtwo hours the commentator up in the control tower entertained us with snippets of information and kept us up to date on what was happening around us.

The sun began to drop. Against a clear sky, the Spitfire and Hurricane treated us to a fantastic display of manoeuvrability and speed to bring the formal evening to an end. But, there then was a announcement that as the air was so still and there was still light, there would be a special bonus as the older planes were brought out. Indeed, the Bleriot is the oldest airworthy aircraft in the world, and it was flown for us to see.

As these primitive machines flew by, the sun dropped lower and lower until it was dark, and then it was time to leave. I shall not forget how transparent, fragile and graceful the flying machines looked.

What a delightful evening, and weren't we lucky with the weather! Our thanks go to Gordon, Mark and the others at Old Warden for their help and assistance.

 

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