Based at Old Warden, the Shuttleworth Collection is world
famous for its extremely rare and unique airworthy exhibits. Throughout the year
a number of themed airshows are held where these aircraft are put through their
paces. With the anniversary of D-Day coinciding with a Sunday this year, it was
only fitting that one of the worlds greatest collections of vintage aircraft pay
their respects as only they can!
So We Could be Free
On the 6th June 1944, the combined armies of the British Commonwealth, Canada, and the United States of America invaded Normandy hell bent on one objective; the end of Nazi oppression in Europe. Many good men gave their lives that day to ensure that the Allies gained that all important foothold on Continental Europe that spelt the beginning of the end.
It is extremely important that the British public remember this sacrifice as the ultimate reason why it occurred is not forgotten. So they could live free.
One aspect of this invasion is often overlooked. Without the mass of air power in the run up to and during the invasion, the armies would have been sitting ducks for artillery and Stuka dive bombers. These efforts should be remembered with as much pride as that given to the army.
This is where events such as those held by Shuttleworth are important. Using the unique medium that an airshow allows organisers to attract regular members of the public to an event whilst careful selection of displaying aircraft and commentary stimulates the crowd into remembering these actions.
Not Just D-Day
Whilst D-Day was the primary theme of the event and as a result their were a number of interesting displays from types that fought in the invasion such as Piper Cubs and P-51 Mustangs, there were displays from other veteran warbird's too.
The flying display kicked off with a tribute to the Fleet Air Arms efforts throughout World War II with a three-ship flypast and solo displays from three iconic types. The display consisted of Shuttleworths own Gloster Gladiator (pretending to be a Sea Gladiator) and Sea Hurricane and Kennet Aviations very special Sea Fire. Although older warbirds joined the party, with a superb display from a number of World War One types with the best display of the day being performed by the iconic Sopwith Tri-Plane!
Wet and Murky
The weather however, tried its best to hold up the airshow. The morning began very misty and murky which prevented a number of visiting aircraft from arriving or delaying their display in the afternoon.
Mercifully, the weather cleared up to be a mix of sunny spells and overcast for the majority of the display, that was until the Mustang pair began their display. Then, the heavens opened with very little warning drenching the crowd in an extremely heavy thunderstorm. This really sparked the end of the display, with such bad weather in the area it would not be possible to allow the famous Edwardian collection of planes to display for the crowd.
Even in the face of difficult weather conditions, Shuttleworth should be applauded for remembering such an important event in recent history and the author wishes the organisers all the best for the 2010 season!