Shuttleworth’s splendid start
Where better than Old Warden, home to an unparalleled array of former Royal Air Force aircraft, to begin 2018’s official RAF100 airshows on 6 May? With the Shuttleworth Collection fielding all serviceable roundelbearing types, plus extensive outside participation ranging from Olympia and Radar Kite vintage gliders to the RAF’S Typhoon FGR4, the Season Premiere was a worthy centenary commemoration enjoyed by a capacity crowd. The theme was much in evidence on the ground, where several cockpit sections (Buccaneer, Dominie and Lightning), a STEM exhibition and current RAF machinery, including Puma HC2 XW212, joined the usual trade stalls and entertainment mix.
Typhoon FGR4 ZK318, wearing RAF100 markings, gave the flying programme a punchy start and a modern link but historic types then took over. In the calm air that later enabled the Bristol Boxkite, Avro Triplane and Blackburn Monoplane each to take flight, Shuttleworth’s Wwi-era Avro 504K, Bristol Fighter, Bristol M1C and SE5A could all represent the service’s infancy. Joining them to make its long-awaited public debut was the collection’s Sopwith Camel replica. Built by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops and first flown on 18 May 2017, it wears the markings of Camel D1851 Ikanopit, of No 70 Squadron in 1918.
The sight of BAE Systems’ Avro XIX G-AHKX in its new RAF Coningsby Station Flight livery was another first. It performed individually and joined the BBMF’S Lancaster and ARC’S Blenheim IF L6739 to create two unique formations. The Blenheim was displayed by John Romain in customarily stunning style and formated with resident Hurricane I P3717 and Sea Hurricane 1b Z7015 for a pleasing fly-by.
Other notable combinations included the ‘RAF CFS generations’ which grouped Tiger Moth, Tutor and visiting Bulldog T1 XX630; DH60X Moth and Blackburn B2; Hawker Demon and Tomtit and−from Duxford− Spitfires Ia N3200 and IX MH434.
Another Spitfire, the BBMF’S recently repainted TE311, offered several very engaging passes but Shuttleworth’s own Spitfire LF Vc AR501 was unable to participate, not having accumulated sufficient flying hours since its first flight to be signed-off for display appearances. However, the necessary airtime achieved, it stole the show at the venue’s first Evening Airshow of the season on 19 May.
ABOVE: Olympia and (foreground) Radar Kite vintage gliders BELOW LEFT: the first appearances of BAE Systems’ repainted Avro XIX… BELOW RIGHT: …and Shuttleworth’s Sopwith Camel replica were major highlights