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Shuttleworth Best of British Airshow 2023
‘...a varied flying display which included some aircraft not usually seen at the bigger airshows.’

Saturday 17 June was the Best of British airshow at Old Warden aerodrome in Northamptonshire.

The day started with light grey sky and the occasional light shower, but the weather improved throughout the day and the final displays were against a backdrop of broken clouds with glimpses of a beautiful sunset.

The airfield was quiet, with ground staff in white overalls preparing the aircraft whilst visitors visited the café or looked into the hangers. A historic bus trundled up and down from one end of the airfield to the other giving rides to visitors. This was the double decker 1913 Leyland ST whilst the bright green Leyland G7 Dodson, built in 1921 was outside on display.


As the flightline preparations continued, the flying started, with World War II aviation represented by four Spitfires including the Spitfire IX operated by the Old Flying Machine Company from Duxford and the Spitfire Mark I N3200, also based at Duxford. This very early Spitfire suffered a forced landing on a French Beach during the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940. After being completely buried it was excavated in 1986 and arrived at Duxford in 2007. After restoration to its original configuration it joined the airshow circuit in 2014.

It was a varied flying display which included some aircraft not usually seen at the bigger airshows. The Britten-Norman Islander was displayed by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS). This aircraft is the demonstrator aircraft for a new Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Propulsion System (HFCPS) which CAeS and its partners aims to certify in 2026.

The day featured a section devoted to British Air Racers, including two Percival Mew Gulls and the Miles Hawk Speed Six. This Speed Six was one of three built and was first flown in 1935. It has a maximum speed of 185mph.


The de Haviland DH.88 Comet G-ACSS also took to the skies. This aircraft is the actual winner of the MacRobinson Air Race from London to Australia in 1934 and was also suspended on display at the 1951 Festival of Britain. As well as a solo display it carried out a number of formation passes with a de Haviland DH-89. This aircraft is in the livery of British European Airways who operated it from 1947 to 1955.


As the cloud cover broke towards the end of the day the wind dropped, allowing the Shuttleworth Collection’s Edwardian Aircraft to be prepped for flight. The replica Bristol Boxkite and the restored Avro Triplane took to the air, and provided a serene display. The Boxkite first flew in 1910, had two seats and a top speed of 40mph.

The final flight of the day was from the English Electric Wren. Two of these were originally built for the Lympne Ultralight Aircraft Trials in 1923. The Wren covered 87.5 miles on one just 4.5 litres of fuel. Parts of the original aircraft were used to build the third and last aircraft of the Type and this is the one now owned by the Shuttleworth Collection.

In 2024 Shuttleworth will celebrate 60 years of airshows, a fantastic excuse to visit!

Review by Mark Lees