Fly Navy 2017
June 4th 2017
The organisers were no doubt hoping to repeat the success of the 2016 Fly Navy show at Old Warden, which was greeted with much deserved acclaim. Unfortunately, when they reprised Fly Navy in 2017, it didn't quite go that way.
The 2016 show was always going to be a hard act to follow. Although the rich naval aviation heritage was again the theme, and the potential was there, both to repeat and even seek to improve on the previous year's show, things didn't go according to plan.
The biggest disappointment was the Sea Vixen, which was to have been one of the star attractions. However, a wheels-up landing on return to base from the Duxford Air Festival has meant that it will no longer be able to display. The Swordfish, Kennet's Skyraider and the Corsair also fell out of the flying list and Terry Martin's Westland Wasp, although it remained on the official schedule right up to the last minute, was also an absentee because it has taken longer than originally expected to repair damage following a heavy landing the previous September.
Two of the listed aircraft did arrive but did not display. The Seafire seemed to catch a gusty sidewind as it landed on arrival during the morning of the show. It was due to open the show as a pair with the Sea Hurricane, but the Hurricane ended up doing a solo. The Morane also arrived during the morning but did not fill its display slot.
Not only were there setbacks, there were also last minute additions, and some were amongst the stars of the show. Two helicopters, the Vietnam-era Huey from MX Jets and RN Heritage Flight's Wasp made ample substitutes for the originally listed alternative Wasp and Gazelle, performing very generous pairs and solo displays. As a bonus for helicopter fans the Merlin, which was on static display, could be visited in the Navy Wings area of the showground.
In another bonus not on the original schedule, the Collection's Cub towed two Slingsby Kite Gliders simultaneously into the air. The Kites then gave a pairs display and landing - all in some very tricky wind conditions. David Bramwell then took his bow by giving a little display in the Cub.
This is just a brief summary of first impressions. A review with photos will follow.
About Old Warden
This is a relatively small venue, where flying feels closer to the crowd than in some bigger airfields, even since the change in the regulations. The venue also has a mansion, Shuttleworth House, which is usually open to visitors for at least part of airshow days, park-like gardens (Swiss garden) and huge children's outdoor play area.
Old Warden is home to the Shuttleworth Collection of planes from both world wars and earlier, including original pioneering aircraft such as the Bleriot (identical to the one that made the first crossing of the English Channel). There are around 40 airworthy planes in eight hangars.
The collection is on static display most days throughout the year. There are significant flying events about monthly between May and October, ranging from daytime full airshows to evening proms and additional smaller events.
|Flying schedule (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
|Hawker Nimrod Mk2: Historic Aircraft Collection|
|Hawker Nimrod Mk 1: The Fighter Collection|
||Avro Anson: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Avro Tutor: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Bristol F2b: Shuttleworth Collection|
|Chipmunk: Shuttleworth Collection|
||De Havilland DH60 Cirrus Moth: Shuttleworth Collection|
|De Havilland DH60X Hermes Moth G-EBWD: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Hawker Demon: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Hawker Sea Hurricane: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Sopwith Pup: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Sopwith Triplane: Shuttleworth Collection|
||Tiger Moth: Shuttleworth Collection|
|Westland Lysander: Shuttleworth Collection|
|Slingsby Kite (x2) (Late addition)|
|Cancelled of withdrawn|
||Sea Vixen (unserviceable following wheeels-up landing 27th May)|
|Swordfish (unserviceable for the whole of 2017 season)|
|Morane MS317 (Flew in but did not display)|
||Westland Wasp (Terry Martin). Repairs not completed following heavy landing in 2016|
|Supermarine Seafire LF3 |
||Miles Magister: Shuttleworth Collection|
|Avro 504K (Replica)|
|Bristol Boxkite: Shuttleworth Collection (Too gusty for the Edwardians)|
|Additionally, the Shuttleworth Collection and most visiting aircraft involved in the flying were on static display, as well as Merlin, Wildcat and Gazelle helicopters|
|All appearances are subject to technical, weather and other constraints|
On the ground, vintage vehicles were on view and paraded along the crowdline and there was excellent live music from the Umbrella Big Band. A regular feature of Shuttleworth shows, youngsters of all ages had the chance to make and paint Airfix kits and there were the usual opportunities to visit Shuttleworth House and the Swiss Gardens and to ride in one of two vintage busses. Altogether, a fine family day out, but not quite up to the comparable show last year, which, in the view of many, was the best show of that season.
Fly Navy 2016
Contender for the Best Show of the Season
Bristol Scout at Fly Navy 2016
Naval aviation heritage was the theme for the June airshow at the Shuttleworth Collection's Old Warden Aerodrome, when the programme featured aircraft with a naval connection dating from the early 1900s through to the 1960s.
The return of the Sea Vixen was one of the highlights of the event, generally regarded as one of the best shows at Old Warden and possibly one of the best anywhere for a very long time.
The Sea Vixen opened the show but, as always, it was also good to see the the Mk III Seafire joined by the Shuttleworth Collection's sole surviving Hawker Sea Hurricane 1B. Other highlights amongst the visitors included a return of the Bristol Scout, Terry Martin's Wasp and Guy Martin's Hawker Nimrod, flying with the Collection's Nimrod and Demon.
Gems from the local collection included their Sopwith Pup, Westland Lysander, Gloster Gladiator although the breeze didn't allow the Edwardians to fly.
|Flying schedule (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
|Fairey Swordfish (RNHF)|
||Bristol Scout (David Bremner)|
||Westland Wasp (Terry Martin)
||Hawker Sea Hurricane 1B (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Seafire MkIII PP972 (Air Leasing: Richard Grace)|
||Grumman FM2 Wildcat (The Fighter Collection)|
|Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat (The Fighter Collection)|
||Goodyear FG-1D Corsair (The Fighter Collection)|
||Hawker Nimrod Mk2 K3661 (Historic Aircraft Collection)|
|Hawker Nimrod Mk1 (The Fighter Collection)|
||Harvard (Texan) T6 (Kennet Aviation)|
||Morane Saulnier MS317 (Tony Whitehead)|
|| BBMF Hurricane and Spitfire (Flypasts)|
||Sopwith Pup (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Westland Lysander (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Gloster Gladiator (Shuttleworth)|
||Gloster Gladiator (The Fighter Collection) (did not fly)|
|Tiger Moth (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Miles Magister (Shuttleworth Collection) |
|Avro Tutor (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Avro Anson (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Rapide (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|DH60 (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Hawker Demon (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Avro 504K (Shuttleworth Collection)|
||Avro Triplane (Shuttleworth Collection) *|
||Bristol Boxkite (Shuttleworth Collection) *|
||Blackburn Monoplane (Shuttleworth Collection) *|
||Deperdussin (Shuttleworth Collection) *|
|Previously listed but cancelled before the show
|Additionally, the Shuttleworth Collection's and most visiting aircraft involved in the flying were on static display, plus:|
On the ground a Hillman Minx and Railton were amongst the vehicles on view and on parade along the crowdline.
The young at heart, of all ages, had a chance to 'make and paint', absolutely free, with Airfix & IPMS Brampton.
Getting to the Show
Shuttleworth's Old Warden Aerodrome is about two miles to the west of the A1 near Biggleswade. It is about 20 miles from junction 13 of the M1 and from the south it is about 30 miles from Junction 23 of the M25. It is signposted from the A1 at Biggleswade. The Post Code (for sat nav) is SG18 9EP but, as with all shows, ignore the sat nav in favour of local show signs as soon as you see them.
National Express do not go to Biggleswade. The nearest stops are in Bedford (4 miles), Letchworth (8 miles) and Royston (6 miles) with services to Luton and Heathrow airports as well as Cambridge and London. You can book seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site.
There is a train station at nearby Biggleswade, which is about 40 minutes from London Kings Cross and about 30 minutes from Peterborough. There is no bus service from the station to the aerodrome but there is a taxi rank close to the station.
Click here to create a pocket timetable for your journey between any stations on the National Rail network.
The variety of rail tickets and fares can be very confusing. Trainline and Raileasy web sites list all ticket and fare options for the time and day of travel you choose, but they both levy an admin fee. Click either of the blue ticket agency names to go to their web site.
Accommodation near the show
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.
Between them, LateRooms and Expedia list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.
Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates.
Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
The International Hotels Group have a Holiday Inn about 4 miles away and Holiday Inn Express hotels about 12 miles away near Bedford and Stevenage; there are two Premier Inn hotels in Bedford about 8 miles away, another two in St Neots and one in Hitchen, all about 10 miles away.
Weather for the show area
The Met office seven-day forecast includes maximum, minimum and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind direction, gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's five-day forecast has overall conditions including temperatures, UV range and a description that may help to determine how pleasant the day will be for the visitor.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.