Old Warden VE/VJ Anniversary Display 2005 Review
Sunday 7th August
After the brashness of the large events like Waddington, Flying Legends and RIAT, it's always good to get back to the civilization of smaller events, and where better to do so than the picturesque setting of Old Warden. No need to get up at the crack of dawn to get a plum spot on the crowd line here! A traffic jam free arrival and my usual spot at the control tower claimed, all by 10 o'clock with the minimum of fuss.
spent a relaxing day in sunny Bedfordshire. All photos by the author.
Events at Old Warden invariably follow the same template, with most of the collection's aeroplanes on show plus a few choice visiting acts. The 'VE/VJ Anniversary Military Pageant Air Display', held on Sunday August 7th, was to be no exception.
One end of the flight line took up quite a Teutonic feel with the collection's Jungmann, a visiting Me-108 (Nord 1002) and a very authentic looking Fi 156 Storch all parked by a Luftwaffe camp. The Storch caused much chin stroking and head scratching. On arrival in the overhead I assumed that it was the familiar radial engined example from Duxford, but as it taxied back no radial was in sight. It wasn't until a fellow enthusiast informed me that it was a 3/4 size replica that the penny dropped - had me fooled!
The start of the flying display had a sombre start with an immaculately observed minutes silence for Steve Young, one of the collection's small army of volunteers who passed on a couple of weeks beforehand. Steve's favourite aeroplane was the Chipmunk, so the collection's yellow Mk22's display of paper cutting and limboing was dedicated to him.
The first of the visiting acts was next, Kennet Aviations AD-4NA Skyraider in the hands of John Beattie, showing the type's brutal lines to great effect. Next up was the Shuttleworth collection of machinery from the Avro stable, starting with a solo display by the Avro XIX (Anson) followed by the Triplane and Tutor, eventually joined by the 504K after some slight starting problems.
The Teutonic trio of Jungmann, Storch replica and Me-108 all performed their displays in turn. The Storch in particular showing that it has all the slow speed handling and short field landing performance of the original.
While the Shuttleworth's Great War pair of SE.5a and Bristol F.2B Fighter were doing their 'stuff', the next visitor could be seen on the horizon; The Golden Apple Trusts F-86A Sabre making the short hop over from Duxford. The phrase 'now for something completely different' couldn't be more apt. Flown by Mark Linney, his display of spirited aero's and fast passes along both runways leaving a trail of black smoke was in complete contrast to the previous aeroplanes.
Next up we had a 4-ship formation of 2 Tiger Moths and 2 Magisters, followed by a graceful glider display which led on to the next segment - an outing for the Shuttleworth's collection of aircraft from the Hawker Company (Cygnet, slight step back in time to the Sopwith Pup, Tomtit, Hind and Sea Hurricane). Now for a surprise - the ultimate Hawker piston single engined fighter, the Sea Fury FB11 from the Royal Navy's Historic Flight, diverting from his route home to Yeovilton from a show in the north of the country, Lt Paul Stone said he might be able to do a few passes. In the end we got a full display! Having not seen a full Sea Fury display for some time, the aircraft's sizzling performance in the small confines of the Old Warden field made a very pleasant sight.
Peter Holloway was next in his Ryan PT-22 (we were to have 2 PT-22's but the other example went U/S with a flat tail wheel).
As I mentioned earlier, shows at Old Warden follow the same plan, usually ending up with the heavy 1930/40 types such as the Gladiator, Lysander, Sea Hurricane and Spitfire. As ever, they started off with pairs and then solo displays. A special mention must go to Andy Sephton in the Lysander - a simply fantastic display.
The Collection's Spitfire brought the show to a close, as unfortunately the wind was judged to be too strong to fly the 'Edwardians'.
So all in all, a solid Shuttleworth day out with some interesting visiting acts. It doesn't matter that the shows usually take the same format (despite many of the shows having specific names and themes), because this is a truly wonderful venue to watch old aeroplanes, not to mention that most are the only airworthy examples in the world. Shame the weather was not as advertised!