Mick Freer soaks up the Old Warden atmosphere
No doubt if Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth was alive today, a smile of satisfaction would beam across his face to witness the wonderful display of motor vehicles and aeroplanes during the 'VJ Day Anniversary Air Display', held on Sunday 7 August at his ancestral home of Old Warden.
Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth, in whose memory the Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust is named, was born at Old Warden Park. As a young man he had a passion for speed and all things mechanical and during the early thirties entered several motor races. It was at this time that Richard inherited the family fortune, estimated to be £50 million at today's value, and learned to fly. He also started to purchase early examples of monoplane and biplane types and this laid the foundation to the wonderful collection we see today. Some of those early acquisitions are still with the Trust. Sadly, Richard was killed on 2 August 1940 while flying a Fairy Battle.
Richard's estate was passed to his grief-stricken mother Dorothy, who created the Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth Trust on 26 April 1944. A college was set up for agricultural training and for the promotion and training in the science, practice and history of aviation and automotive transport.
It's as though one is in a time capsule when driving through the beautiful village of Old Warden and through the magnificent grounds of Old Warden Park. Nothing appears to have changed much since the early Thirties. How refreshing to drive to an air display, park the car, lay out the picnic and just sit back and enjoy an afternoon of flying. No jostling crowd, no fairgrounds, no security checks and no afterburners. It was a great surprise to bump into fellow aviation photographers more at home at the 'heavy metal' shows - times are changing, or are we just getting older? (Or is there just less to do? - Ed)
The show commenced on a sad note with one minute's silence in memorary of SVAS (Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society) member Steve Young, who had tragically been killed in a motor accident. As a tribute to Steve, the collection's de Havilland Chipmunk T10 flew a display of ribbon cutting. Steve had laboured hard and spent long hours on this aircraft to bring it to the superb condition we see it in today.
A distant growl heralded the appearance of the Kennet Aviation Skyraider as it dived into the circuit and commenced a series of low passes along the crowd line. An Avro-themed slot followed next with examples from the stable of this once famous designer and manufacturer of aircraft, consisting of an Avro XIX flown superbly by Andy Sephton, the Avro 504K, the Avro Tutor (now resplendent in the markings of the Central Flying School aerobatic team) and a Triplane replica. The Triplane was the first aircraft designed by Alliot Vernon Roe. This particular replica flew in the film 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'.
The theme now changed to the First World War with displays by the collection's Bristol F2B, SE5a and Sopwith Triplane reproduction. The Bristol F2B was built in 1918 and at one time during its service career served with 208 Squadron in Turkey. The SE5a also has an interesting history, once being used by Major Jack Savage's Skywriting Company during 1924 for, what in those days, was a popular form of advertising. The Sopwith Triplane reproduction aircraft was built by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops during 1991 and is fitted with an original 130 hp Clerget rotary engine. It was described by the late Sir Thomas Sopwith as a 'late production machine' as opposed to a replica, and so carries a Sopwith serial number of 153.
A nice trio of Second World War Luftwaffe aircraft were next to display, consisting of a Fiesler Storch one-third scale replica, a Bucker Jungmann and a Messerschmidt ME-108. The Fiesler Storch replica gave an amazing display of STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) and at times appeared to hang in the sky. The aircraft wears authentic markings of a liaison aircraft used by a Stuka Squadron on the Eastern Front. The ME-108 is in fact a French built Nord 1002 and served with the Armee de l'Air. It wears a camouflage scheme of an aircraft based in North Africa.
A distant Black smoke trail signalled the arrival of something totally different - the North American F-86A Sabre, belonging to the Golden Apple Trust. How wonderful to see this jet aircraft being displayed so expertly within the tight confines of Old Warden. This particular aircraft (serial number 48-0178) is claimed to be the oldest jet-powered aircraft still flying.
The theme next changed to that of Flying Training, with a series of demonstrations by the Percival Provost T1, a pair of Miles Magisters, a pair of Tiger Moths and a Ryan PT-22. A Hawker Tribute to the design achievements of Sir Sidney Camm followed next with displays by Hawker Cygnet replica, Tomtit, Hind and Sea Hurricane. The Hawker Cygnet carries the appropriate registration G-CAMM. The Hawker Hind misbehaved in front of the crowd when its engine failed and the aircraft rolled to a stop - this, however, was an ideal opportunity to roll out the Hucks starter (built on a Ford Model 'T' chassis), which raced across the airfield to the rescue. The finale of the Hawker tribute was the unscheduled arrival of the Royal Navy Historic Flight's Sea Fury FB11 VR930, banking around the circuit in great style.
The show came to a close with the Shuttleworth Trust's Second World War aircraft in the form of the Gloster Gladiator, Westland Lysander, Hawker Sea Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. The Gladiator is still in the markings of the Norwegian Army Air Force, applied several years ago, and flew in company with the Westland Lysander IIIA piloted by Andy Sephton. The Lysander wears the markings of 161 Squadron, based at nearby RAF Tempsford in Bedfordshire - 161 was tasked with dropping SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents and supplies into occupied France, a highly hazardous role. The Grande Finale of the show was the Hawker Sea Hurricane 1B and Supermarine Spitfire LF Vc duo that performed some very close formation flying. The Spitfire is in the markings of No. 310 (Czech) Squadron while based at Exeter in Devon.
A fantastic day of flying set in beautiful surroundings and a very relaxed atmosphere. A great day out for both the family or the serious aviation photographer. Don't forget your picnic!