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Shuttleworth Military Pageant 2011

Where? Old Warden / Biggleswade, England
When? 07/08/2011

The Shuttleworth Collection's Old Warden airfield offers excellent photo opportunities both in the air and on the ground as the action happens very close to the visitor and the clear background gives timeless impressions. Apart from its already extensive collection the "Military Pageant" air display give the opportunity to see also other aircraft at this exquisite location.

This year's Pageant was scheduled for August, 7th and did promise very interesting visitors. Without anticipating the following report unfortunately the weather did not cooperate during the whole day as did the technique of some of the planned aircraft.

In an already well-tried fashion the gates opened at 9am with a scheduled start of the flying at 2pm, thus giving a lot of time to stroll through the hangars or visit the adjacent Botanic Gardens or the "Birds of Prey" centre.

After the Historic Vehicle Parade the Spitfire IX of the OFMC was the opening act of the flying display, followed by the "Special Operations" Lysander, displaying its short take-off capabilities and explaining its role in flying from Britain to France in covered operations during WW II.

The "Shuttleworth Trainers" were up in the air next, split up into three groups. At first the Blackburn B2 and the de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth did go up, followed by the Avro Tutor, Hawker Tomtit and the de Havilland Chipmunk, with the latter one doing aerobatics. The final group under this theme were the Polikarpov Po2, Miles Magister and the Percival Piston Provost.

The planned Vampire T11 had to be cancelled due to an engine change, but was very well replaced by the Sea Fury T20 of the Royal Navy Historic Flight. The fate of the Vampire was also shared by the BBMF's Lancaster which went unserviceable due to an defective engine and had to be cancelled upon short notice.

The Gloster Gladiator and the Fieseler Storch followed next under a "Western Desert Encounter" – and it's up to you to guess who did win the aerial encounter...

There was also a Curtis P40 Kittyhawk announced, a type that I would have really liked to see displaying at Old Warden, but unfortunately it did not show up, leaving the Hawker Sea Hurricane 1b alone in the air during its routine.

A very nice and interesting WW II formation was the Avro Anson, Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Sea Hurricane 1, with the only slight drawback that the Anson was in civil markings. However thumbs- up for this nice idea!

The eagerly awaited WW I scene had to be cancelled due to the weather, leaving only the Sopwith Pup being towed in front of the spectators to demonstrate the operation of a rotary engine. The Sopwith Triplane, SE5a and Bristol F2b stayed in the hangars.

For the Hawker Demon and Hind the wind gusts were no problem and they took it to the air once again in a well known and executed formation flying routing with some single-ship passes at the end of their demo.

As at the start of the display the last act also came flying in from the nearby Duxford airfield: the "Cadillac of the skies", the North American P51D Mustang, once again from the OFMC, giving a very nice display routine to appreciate the sight and sound of a Mustang in the air, combined with some very nice photo passes. Unfortunately, as for the most part of the day, the sun was hidden behind some clouds.

And as during the whole day the heavy gusts did continue well into the evening, inhibiting a performance of the "Edwardians", the Blackburn Monoplane Type – D, Bristol Boxkite, Avro Triplane, and last but not least the Deperdussin and the Blériot XI.

But fortunately the dark clouds only moved either South or North pat the airfield, and the initially feared hailstorms did not realize themselves. Thus after all this trip to Shuttleworth made once again a great day out, though the hoped-for variety of the display was greatly reduced due to missing guest aircraft. But the Shuttleworth Collection alone has so much variety to offer in the air!

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