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Shuttleworth Premier Air Show 2021



The 2021 Air Show season has come around again, and although welcomed, the outlook is still hazy, in “the new normal”, where nothing is set in stone.

Thankfully The Shuttleworth Collection have continued with their busy schedule of re-imagined air shows in the form of the highly successful Drive In Air Shows.


The customary annual Bank Holiday Sunday in May saw the first Air Show of the season with a sell-out crowd of eager enthusiasts, with a welcome line up including a number of Collection regulars and handful of external visitors. Last minute amendments had to be made to the flying schedule due to the sudden loss of Fly Navy’s Sea Fury T.20 following an unfortunate accident near its home base of Yeovilton.

The same arrangement of the Drive in Parking and Viewing spaces from the previous season has been carried over into this year, although with a slight change in pricing. This season sees the cost of a parking space ranging from 5 to 20 dependent upon size, with the additional cost of 39 per adult (reduced to 33 for SVAS Members). As previously undertaken, the commentary for the show was broadcast via FM radio, giving you the choice over whether you want to listen or not, as the case may be; another unique touch.

The show kicked off with the BBMFs Spitfire Mk XVI TE311 and Spitfire Mk Vb AB910. At the time of the show the BBMF had not received their full PDA, and as such their presence was limited to several flypasts; a welcome sight across the Old Warden Skyline, bringing the old familiar and, recently missed sound of Merlin Power.

The flying, for the main part was up to the Shuttleworth standard, otherwise known as superb! The first of the visiting aircraft, the Duxford based Catalina “Miss Pickup” operated by Plane Sailing gave an impressive display getting down low for a notable amount of the display, proving to be quite agile for such a large old lady.

The display of the day undoubtedly came from John Romain of the Aircraft Restoration Company in his Hispano Buchon “Yellow 10”, currently carrying a temporary JG27 Desert Scheme. It was an astonishing display from the ARCO boss who really flew the socks off his Merlin powered Steed.

It was also worth noting that the Hurricane Heritage operated Harvard gave a stellar performance, which was incidentally the pilots first public display before taking on displays in Hurricane R4118.


A few displays didn’t quite hit the spot from a photographers point of view, notably the Collections Spitfire Vc AR501. The display itself was a fantastic show of power, speed and agility, but perhaps missed a little gentle finesse allowing for increased photographic opportunity, especially those glorious topsides that Shuttleworth lends itself to so well.

A sadly absent attendee from the flying list was the presence of any Hurricanes, something almost synonymous with Shuttleworth flying displays. Sadly the Collections own unique Sea Hurricane is currently minus its propeller which is under currently under maintenance although scheduled for future Air Shows later this season.
During the day’s proceedings attendees were treated to all four season in one day with the ever changing weather. Luckily it didn’t really affect the main body of flying, however, sadly the wind had picked up slightly towards the end of the day which in turn curtailed any chance of the Edwardians being able to display. Unfortunate, as seeing those fabulously unique airframes gently lift up and into the air is such a sight to behold.
The Shuttleworth Collection shows have always had a special place in many of an aviation enthusiasts heart, but with the goings on of the Pandemic of 2020 and indeed its continuation into 2021 the organisers at the Collection have shown how to lead the way with how to adapt to a changing world and still deliver the goods. The grounds of Old Warden airfield lend themselves very well to an evet such as the “Drive in” shows, given the access points, viewing capacity and display line of the airfield. With a number of these shows under their belt over the last 12 months, with a further clutch of shows on the horizon, they are really leading the way with how a successful Air Show can be held in what has become to be known as “the new normal”.
The Show certainly appears to be an overwhelming success with sell out ticket sales and very positive social media chatter across the various platforms. The next Shuttleworth Air Show will be held on Saturday the 15th May with one of their unique evening Air Shows with the theme of Spies and Intrigue. For a full list of the up and coming shows visit https://www.shuttleworth.org/events/airshows/ for full booking details.

Review by Jonathan Wintle