2015 Event Review

Shuttleworth Airshow:  October 4, 2015
Location: Old Warden aerodrome, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England
Admission: Pre paid ticket event, £22.50, event was sold out and no other tickets were sold at the gate
Parking: Free inside aerodrome grounds
Value: Very Good
Rating out of 10: 9
 
MCAS Yuma base commander
Old Warden is a suburb of Biggleswade in the county of Bedfordshire, with a population of around 300 people. The aerodrome covers what is probably half of the village's total area and is surrounded by pockets of cottages, a post office and a parish church. This small place on the map is however home to one of the world's largest and best collections of antique and classic aircraft, vehicles, steam engines and bicycles which are collectively known as the Shuttleworth Collection.
At least once every month between May and September, usually in the afternoon of the mid-month weekend, a pageant of the Collection is held where a selection of aircraft can be seen taking off and performing fly-bys. Many of the aircraft are handled manually out of their hangar and onto the grass field. Once every season an 'uncovered' show is held where one can walk up to the exhibits on the grass and talk with the pilots and other personnel. The show on 4th Oct 2015 was this year's 'uncovered' event. This had been postponed from September so as to attract more people to attend what will surely be remembered as one of the last outings of XH558, the world's only flying Avro Vulcan.
Jet appearances are very rare at Old Warden and October's show was no exception. Not only was the appearance of the Vulcan restricted to perform within a tight area because of noise tolerance levels, but also because of the CAA's newly imposed regulations in the aftermath of the Shoreham Hawker Hunter tragedy of 22nd August 2015 which left 11 people dead. Within a few hours of the Vulcan being confirmed for the show the limited sale of tickets quickly sold out. I bought mine online around 12 days before the show and there were none left a day later. I am told that tickets were then turning up on ebay for over £130 each!!
It took me just over 40 minutes to drive up from Luton to Old Warden and I was the eighth in the queue at about 6.45am. As the day progressed it became clear that the sell-out crowd would quickly fill up the aerodrome and that the sunshine would keep. Many of the usually quiet stalls had long queues of people waiting for their pints, teas, hot dogs and chips. Staff and volunteers handled the organisation superbly and the show progressed like clockwork.
The star of the show was undoubtedly XH558, as it prepared to fly in for its slot accompanied by the Collection's own Avro 19 Anson the crowds eagerly scanned the sky beyond the treeline for an early glimpse of the Tin Triangle. XH558's display was impeccable and a few tears rolled down many a cheek as the Vulcan departed.
Participating aircraft included a Seafire 17, Sea Hurricane MkI, Hurricane MkI, Sopwith Pup, Avro 504K, Anec II, Percival Mew Gull, DH88 Comet Racer, Hunting Percival Provost, a NA AT6 Harvard, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A, 2 Hawker Cygnets, BBMF's Dakota, Gloster Gladiator, Hawker Demon, Polikarpov Po-2, Bristol Scout, Bristol F2B, a replica Bristol M1C, Fauvel glider and last but not least Edwardian era aircraft. Aerobatic pilot Mark Jeffries performed a stunning display in an Extra 330SC. The Red Devils paratrooper display team from 2 Para, the Parachute Regiment, gave us a most impressive display of parachuting skills and pinpoint landings after jumping from a Cessna Caravan flying at 3,500ft. Other notable aircraft which did not take part in the flying display per se included a DH82 Moth, Miles Magister, Hawker Tomtit, Bleriot XI, Christen A-1 Husky floatplane and a highly polished chrome Spartan Executive.
Performers included:

Avro Vulcan

Avro 19 Anson

Supermarine Seafire 17

Hawker Sea Hurricane MkI

Hawker Hurricane MkI

Sopwith Pup

Avro 504K

Anec II

Percival Mew Gull

DH88 Comet Racer

Hunting Percival Provost

tNA AT6 Harvard

Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A,

2 Hawker Cygnets

BBMF's Dakota

Gloster Gladiator

Hawker Demon

Polikarpov Po-2

Bristol Scout

Bristol F2B

Bristol M1C (replica)

Fauvel glider

Aerobatic pilot Mark Jeffries Extra 330SC

The Red Devils paratrooper display team from 2 Para, the Parachute Regiment

Cessna Caravan

Report and photography by Christopher Mifsud for The Aviation Magazine

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