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  Shuttleworth Fly Navy Airshow - Old Warden, Bedfordshire, 5th June 2016

 


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Shuttleworth’s Fly Navy airshow was one of my favourite shows from 2016 and one of the best I have experienced at Old Warden. The big draw of course was the promise of seeing the Fly Navy Heritage Trust’s DeHavilland Sea Vixen FAW2 ‘Foxy Lady’ flying at one of the best UK venues for photography, and the display did not disappoint. After a formation pass with The Shuttleworth Collection’s Sea Hurricane IB, ‘Foxy’ broke away to perform a high energy and very dynamic display, wingtip vortices streaming as the heavyweight fighter went into the vertical. The finale topside pass was also one of the highlights of the day.

The naval theme continued with a series of formation flypasts from the Sea Hurricane in concert with Air Leasing’s recently restored Supermarine Seafire LFIII which then gave its own display in the deep blue. Rotary naval aviation was also represented by Terry Martin's Wasp HAS1 which gave a sprightly performance practically within the confines of the aerodrome which, at several points, involved a lot of airborne grass cuttings! The Aeronavale was next up with a display from 1952 built Morane-Saulnier M.S.317 G-MOSA, the M.S.317 being a re-engined M.S.315, this design dating back to 1932. This particular example flew again in 2013 after a four year restoration by owner Tony Whitehead and looked particularly resplendent in its blue colours against the blue sky. Final singleton naval act was the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Fairy Swordfish II W5856 which only rejoined the display circuit in 2015 after corrosion on the wing spars grounded the aircraft in 2003. It was a rather nostalgic moment to again witness the flypast with the crew flying the Red Ensign, a sight once commonplace at the many airshows I visited in my youth!

In terms of ‘Fly Navy’ the second big draw was the trio of Second World War warbirds from the Duxford based The Fighter Collection which arrived led by Grumman FM2 Wildcat G-RUMW, with Goodyear built FG-1D Corsair G-FGID and Grumman F8F Bearcat G-RUMM in formation off each wing. Again, the chance to see these aircraft away from Duxford and using the curving, intimate crowdline at Old Warden, was one not to be missed, the continuing gin-clear skies being the icing on the cake. After the formation passes, each machine gave its own solo display, the Bearcat’s being particularly awe inspiring (I have to confess a certain obsession with Bearcats…) and one which certainly led to the best Bearcat images I have taken to date, the final knife-edge pass being a gift from the gods!

Several Shuttleworth stalwarts also made an appearance, one notable formation being of three wonderful Hawker biplanes, the Collection’s Demon leading a pair of Nimrods for formation and solo displays. Another notable attendee was the Bremner brother's Bristol Scout replica ‘1264,’ David Bremner performing his debut display in the machine which is based on one flown by their grandfather in World War One.

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