Early September saw the Shuttleworth Collection’s Heritage Day take the place of the long-standing Pageant event. The ethos remained much the same, and a keen focus was placed on the history of the Shuttleworth Collection itself with a celebration of the many automobiles and aeroplanes operated under the Shuttleworth banner. Such an event is particularly well-placed given that 2017 marks the 175th anniversary of the formation of the Clayton & Shuttleworth company in 1842, a key catalyst in the formation of Collection at Shuttleworth Park.
The highly successful iron and steel foundry company was set up by Nathaniel Clayton and Joseph Shuttleworth in Lincolnshire to manufacture steam engines and agricultural equipment. Joseph Shuttleworth used proceeds from the business to purchase Old Warden park, allowing his son, Richard, to pursue his passion for motor vehicles and flying. His legacy is the preservation and conversation of a vast array of automobiles and aeroplanes by The Shuttleworth Collection. Clayton & Shuttleworth agricultural equipment and steam engines were gathered on the main display area in front of the hangars, supplemented by two visiting engines which joined resident ‘Dorothy’ in what was surely one of the slowest pre-flying vehicle parades to have taken place at an Old Warden airshow!
During the First World War, Clayton & Shuttleworth were required to construct aircraft for the military, amongst them fighters such as the Sopwith Camel. Visiting was the Brooklands Museum’s ground-running Camel, placed alongside the Shuttleworth Collection’s reproduction aeroplane. The former is maintained in ground running order and was swung into life during the morning. Sadly this was to be the only Camel action and rotary chatter of the day – it had been hoped the Collection’s Camel, a faithful reproduction constructed by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops, would make its public display début at Heritage Day, but alas wind and turbulence conditions precluded this and the other lighter types from getting airborne. A wonderful special edition of the popular Pilot’s Chat (given by Dodge Bailey, Shuttleworth Chief Pilot, and Bob Richardson, a member of the Northern Aeroplane Workshop team who had a hand in the construction of the Camel) made up for this – apparently the aeroplane doesn’t quite fly as nicely as it looks, but more on that at a later date!
Incorporated into the day were elements of the popular Uncovered events of previous years, with the opening of the paddock area on the cross runway during the morning allowing visitors to get up close to many of the wonderful and unique aeroplanes owned by the Collection.
Though the weather conditions precluded the planned pageant of vintage aeroplanes, the crowd still enjoyed a considerable amount of flying from the home team which highlighted the skill and dedication of the pilots who worked hard in rough conditions to put on a safe and entertaining show for the public. Displays by the Collection’s trainer types, not often seen as stars of the show, were highly entertaining with the excellent pairing of Tomtit and Tutor, a brisk tail chase from the Tiger Moth and Blackburn B2 and a multi-layered sequence featuring the Magister and Chipmunk intermingling with the Piston Provost through a series of opposition passes.
Other acts often overlooked by even regular Old Warden attendees are the vintage glider displays; it’s worth remembering that few other UK airshows host vintage gliders so regularly, if at all. At Heritage Day we were treated to two excellent aerobatic displays by the ‘flying wing’ Fauvel and Luňák gliders – both landing to a round of applause from the appreciative crowd. Well-flown glider displays can offer an entrancing interlude and are every bit as relevant as the powered aeroplanes.
Pairing different aircraft in the air is something Shuttleworth do very well, and we saw the regular racing duo of Comet and Mew Gull open the afternoon’s flying. Both were flown in exemplary fashion by Paul Stone and Stu Goldspink respectively, with their smooth ‘greaser’ landings in gusty conditions being as impressive as their displays. Another lesser seen pairing was that of the Dragon Rapide and Anson, with the former then displayed by Chief Engineer Jean-Michel Munn with his typical verve.
It had been hoped that the Gloster Gladiator would make its first display following a successful off-airfield landing at the June Fly Navy airshow, as part of a Mercury engine duo with the Westland Lysander. Alas, on the run-in to display the Gladiator had to make a precautionary landing and Dodge Bailey was left to display the Lysander alone, which he did in his inimitable style.
One of the few visitors in the flying display was longstanding Shuttleworth supporter Peter Teichman, who brought his P-51D Mustang ‘Tall in the Saddle‘ up from North Weald. Peter has been very vocal on social media following the introduction of the Civil Aviation Authority’s new air display regulations in early 2016, and has stressed his discomfort at the revised restrictions on several occasions. While this has translated into more sedate displays from the Hangar 11 Collection fleet, it was pleasing to see the P-51D flown lower and closer on this occasion in an engaging aerobatic routine – a return to form for Peter, whose displays have always been a high point of Shuttleworth airshows. In line with the trend set at Old Warden in 2017, the Hurricanes provided the aerial highlight of the day. A duo of the type were on show courtesy of the Sea Hurricane and Mk.II P3717, the latter replacing Hurricane Heritage’s Mk.I R4118 after it suffered a cracked block. Despite the gloomy conditions and worsening weather, Paul Stone led Stu Goldspink through various formation, tail-chasing and opposition passes before their respective solos – a true delight once again. Following an excellent display from the Global Stars aerobatic team it was decided to conclude flying for the day, owing to the worsening wind conditions and unpredictable turbulence.
It is unfortunate that the weather played a foul hand at what should have been a chance for the Collection’s many varied types to shine. The exemplary flying skills of the Collection’s pilots shone through and beyond that, the hard work and dedication from the engineers, ground crew and other associated volunteers ensured that the Heritage Day was still a success. Their skill, professionalism and care will ensure that Richard Shuttleworth’s legacy continues long into the future.