Shuttleworth Collection Flying Festival

Sunday 2nd June 2019

Replacing the "Fly Navy" airshow that has occupied the early-June slot in Old Warden's calendar for the last three years, Shuttleworth's Flying Festival was notably taking place at the same weekend as the assembly of the fleet of C-47s/DC-3s/Dakotas at Duxford for the "Daks Over Normandy" gathering. With the historic prospect of seven of these comparative giants on the ground, and the RAFAT Red Arrows pencilled in, the Flying Festival had a lot to offer.

Tom Jones reports on behalf of UK Airshow Review. Photography by the UKAR Staff Team.

To recall the excitement and praise at the largest aircraft ever landing at Shuttleworth's Season Premiere, Ace's High's rather drab Dakota, and Plane Sailing's PBY Catalina, the organisers of this year's Flying Festival changed from second gear to fifth with the very late announcement in the days before the show that seven(!) of the temporarily Duxford-based C-47s would be on the ground, and depart during the show.

To a great many, this was the only real weekend airshow in the UK that featured a portion of the Daks Over Normandy fleet, and notwithstanding access to Duxford, it allowed those unable to secure leave from work or exams the chance to attend an event with these historic machines, and be part of the celebrations of the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord. To the organiser's immense credit, and likely knowing what demand would be, the static park was opened without an additional fee for all to view all of the participating machines on the ground, with tours inside, merchandise, and crews only too happy to talk about the history of "their" mounts.

As ever, the atmosphere at Old Warden was something to behold. Through some alchemy unbeknown to most other airshows, even with the draw of the Red Arrows (erroneously claimed by some snobs to draw the "wrong sort" of crowd to the Bedfordshire airshow), the feel of the place was laid-back, relaxed, and cordial as ever. People were able to take their time and admire these great beasts for what they were, without any exorbitant extra fees for the privilege, too. Indeed, knowing what we know now at the time of writing, the Shuttleworth Flying Festival seems to have been one of the star events of the Normandy 75th celebrations.

The aforementioned RAFAT Red Arrows displayed that day alongside other guests such as the Bristol Blenheim, the Gazelle Squadron, and Westland Wasp XT787, together with the collection's fleet and based aircraft which put on their typically excellent routines. On a personal level, it must be said that at an advanced ticket price of £30, the show's line up was struggling to justify the fee without the last-minute draw of the fleet of C-47s. However, as it was the C-47s/DC-3s et al provided more than a unique airshow experience in 2019. It might never be repeated for a great number of years, and for that alone, added to the mix of the usual Shuttleworth magic and relaxed atmosphere, the Shuttleworth Flying Festival with its contingent of the Daks Over Normandy fleet will likely be looked back on as one of the season highlights of the year.