Strong winds precluded the flying of Great War era aircraft, but there was plenty more to admire. Mark Barnes reports from Old Warden.
This year has seen varied events to enjoy including two trips to Shuttleworth within a month. My latest visit was for the recent Edwardian Pageant, the occasion when the Collection’s oldest aircraft are displayed alongside invited guests of a similar vintage. I got to Old Warden early and enjoyed an al fresco full English breakfast while watching a succession of classic aircraft being pushed out on the grass. The sun was out and the public were streaming in and all seemed set fair, but there was one tiny problem: the wind.
Saturday had seen a flat calm but Sunday saw the ominous appearance of strong winds with a ground level speed of 25 knots so it was soon apparent that despite the best of intentions, the elderly aircraft we had come to see would not fly. It was immensely disappointing, but this being Shuttleworth, they had a plan ‘B’ ready just in case and a revised programme of events was ready to rumble by the time the flying session was due to start. A number of sturdy aircraft dating from the thirties and forties were substituted for the frail old ladies I had hoped to see.
But first there was time to walk round the hangars admiring a long list of Great War era classics. There are countless display cabinets full of models and memorabilia to get our brains round and the colour and atmosphere of the place is so alluring, I really cannot wait to go back again.
The flying display was lovely with turns by a Lysander, Anson, Hurricane and Sea Hurricane, Hawker Demon, Polikarpov Po2 and Miles Magister. A visiting Harvard added to the colour while a bevy of classic civvy types completed the line-up. I was pleased to get another go at snapping aeroplanes I had only seen a month ago and while I would have preferred to be watching a Fokker Triplane, the Lysander is no poor substitute. I will never be sniffy about this stuff. The Anson is a thing of beauty, while the two Hurricanes make a fantastic display pair.
Away from the display line there were classic vehicles and people getting into the Edwardian spirit to admire. I could be pedantic and question why the aircraft we should have seen are known as The Eds when the earliest of them dates from 1912, two years into the reign of King George V but who cares?
This was another great event and although high winds had dictated the pageant would be more Edward VIII than Edward VII it was still great to see so many classic aircraft in such relaxed surroundings. There is something special about Shuttleworth and I really hope that if I get invited to next year’s Edwardian event that the weather plays ball and I get to see the Great War era beauties in action. But in such wonderful surroundings it really doesn’t matter what flies. Old Warden really is the kind of place where cares disappear for a while. See for yourselves.