A Kind of Magic – The “Shuttleworth Uncovered” Airshow 2011

You may have gained the impression while reading this blog that I am a fan of the Shuttleworth Collection. Put simply they have the finest airshow venue on the planet and regularly put on airshows of the highest quality. However this airshow, dear reader, surpassed their best efforts to date.

The Shuttleworth Uncovered airshow is the brainchild of the Engineers at the Collection and the idea is simple. Bring Shuttleworth to the people…..

And do you know it works!

Aircraft being taken out of the hangars and turning left instead of right looks a bit odd. The paddock in which cars usually park is, for this event, turned into a display arena with aircraft and vehicles from the Shuttleworth Collection and some very special guests are parked for close inspection. The Old Warden RC Model club also got into the act, and very welcome they were too.

The Brooklands museum brought their Napier Railton and even took it for a spin, the Collections own Railton, while being off the family, has a little less oompf! They also brought their Santos-Dumont Demoiselle reproduction.

As if the sound of one Napier wasnt enough, there was a Napier Lion giving static runs as well. It was loud

The Engineers, Staff and volunteers entered into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in period costumes (with varying degrees of success) with the Living Van (itself a historic exhibit) being the central base for activities with copious amount of Tea being dispensed from it. On the airfield, the visiting pilot got into the act.

Its possible for things to get a bit too realistic though. This is the view before

And after!

As we saw earlier, Peter Teichman arrived in his P-40 for the flying display, and then slowly aircraft were dragged out from the paddock and readied for flying, but not before they were needed. Then proceedings began with the traditional parade of Vehicles from the Collection.

Preceding the parade was a somewhat special event. The first run in quite some time of the Collections 1904 Aurora motorcycle. Its intrepid rider in his own words viewed the prospect of “riding a 107 year old brakeless motorcycle in front of the public whilst weaving through a collection of priceless old aeroplanes” with more than a little trepidation. The look on his face bares this out.

On with the flying, beginning with vintage gliders (Kite and the visiting Falcon1) on to the biplanes including star of stage and film Miss Kenya with Elf, Tomit, Tutor and B2, the early evening sunlight showed them at their best.



The Tutor then joined the Provost for another “Only at Shuttleworth” formation. A nice touch at this show was a number of combination displays with one aircraft doing high aeros while another displayed underneath. A nice touch that worked well.


Then its the inter-war biplanes turn to take to the sky, Gladiator, Hind and Demon. Two Kestrels and a Mercury. Bliss.


All the time, as the light drifted off to its late summer bed, the wind was dropping. Would they come? Maybe. In the meantime the Lysander and Storch graced the skies.

The Sea Hurricane and P-40 formated and displayed, as the light and wind dropped in unison.


Its now the turn of the Great War aircraft to take to the air. The smell of castor oil and the sound of the rotary engines echoing round the trees is unique and very special.

Meanwhile back in the paddock, the queue for a visit to the Sea Hurricane cockpit was growing ever longer. It lasted way beyond darkness fell but none were turned away. Such was the nature of the day.

Its time for magic, the sun has set and there is very little wind, the call goes out “fly the Eds!”
Beginning with the Boxkite and Triplane. They may be replicas but they are still tricky to fly.

Then its the turn of the Deperdussin, only a hop. But what a hop! It finished with a flourish when it turned round the bend and landed up the hill. Three more of those and you have a circuit. Then the Blackburn Monoplane, the oldest flying British aircraft, flew briefly with the ScudII Britain’s oldest flying glider. It nearly worked so they’ll try again. Finally the Bleriot, a totally of 300 years worth of powered flight in the gathering misty dusk. Simply magical, and its what makes Old warden the finest air display location on the planet.

Finally, it may be a bit dark and gloomy. But its my photo of the year.

And so another truly magical display drew to a close, it was nearly 10pm by the time all the aircraft were put to bed. A very big thank you to the Engineers Staff and Volunteers at the Shuttleworth Collection for all their hard work in making this truly unique display so special. Its my favourite of the year.

I have read that some though before the event that this was a formulaic display and the events here were getting a bit stale. Some people simply dont get it!

3 responses

  1. Mark A

    Some great shots again Nick. I especially like the two of the P40, and I echo the previous post. My employer requires me to work Saturdays, and these pictures are almost (note almost!) as good as being there. You have really captured the atmosphere. Thanks.

    October 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm

  2. Dodger

    I’ve been attending OW since 1973 and this was one of the most memorable displays I have attended. Ignore the naysayers..this was pure aeronautical magic. Great collection of pictures.

    September 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  3. Emily Claydon

    I absolutely love the write ups you do of the shuttleworth airshows, you really do them justice, but this one blew me away. Unfortunately i missed the show but you made it feel like i was there. Your pictures are amazing.

    Great Work, Thanks

    September 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

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