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  Shuttleworth Collection Military Pageant - Old Warden, Bedfordshire, 5th July 2015


Comment -
Star of the Shuttleworth Military Pageant had to be Avro Vulcan B2 XH558, which made its first and last appearance at the show since its return to flight in the hands of the VTST. The prospect of seeing the mighty delta at such an intimate venue wetted many appetites to the point that the show was sold out well in advance. The Vulcan’s display was the opening act and it certainly left my family and myself spellbound as the machine performed a series of tight turns and slow fly-bys, the last of which seemed right over our heads! As the Tin Triangle departed I wondered what could possibly top that, but the rest of the show built on this opening with some great quality, great weather and, of course, the wonderful photographic opportunities presented by Old Warden’s curving display line.

As warbirds are my main passion, the next highlight for me came in the form of Peter Teichman’s howling topside arrival in the Hangar 11 Spitfire PRXI PL965. This was followed shortly after by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s MkVb AB910, which opened its display in similar vein against a dramatic cloudscape.

Military biplane fans were also not disappointed as Gladiator G-AMRK duelled with Fieseler Storch G-STCH, while a later display saw two classic Hawker designs (Demon K8203 and Hind K5154) making a series of formation passes before breaking off for individual performances.

As the end of the show drew near it was the turn of Second World War machines to take the stage again, Peter Teichman beginning with a nice routine in the Spitfire XI. This was followed by Shuttleworth’s Sea Hurricane IB in a very loose formation with the Kennet Aviation Seafire MkXVII, which had returned to flight only days before the show and which was displayed by John Beattie. The Seafire had suffered a landing mishap in 2011 while engine problems had curtailed its flying in 2014. With the two naval fighters safely on the ground John Romain took Bristol Blenheim I G-BPIV aloft for what was a magical display in the early evening sunshine, this being the aircraft’s first appearance at Old Warden since its lengthy rebuild.

By this time a stiff crosswind had blown up which kept the billed World War One aircraft on the ground. The proposed poppy drop was instead flown from the Percival Provost T1 XF603 while the airfield observed a two minute silence.

Shuttleworth rarely disappoints, and this show was no exception, being one of my favourite displays from the 2015 season.

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