June (1st and) 2nd (airshow on 2nd only)
The former ‘Military Pageant’ Airshow retained the military theme for 2021 but the title became simply the Military Airshow. In both it's guises it has been one of Shuttleworth's most popular shows, lining up Shuttleworth's impressive collection with vintage and more recent military visitors.
For 2022 the Military Airshow moved from the daytime to the evening and adopted a drive-in format but for 2023 it was back as a full daytime show without the drive-in restrictions. For the first time, the Military show becomes a two-day show in 2024 although there is only an airshow element on the second of the days.
As always, the show will showcase outstanding and iconic military aircraft which have shaped the course of aviation history.
On the ground there will be singers, re-enactors, wartime motorcycles, ambulances, lorries and other military vehicles.
The flying list will be in the table when announced.
Airshows at the Shuttleworth Collection generally feature a good percentage of Old Warden-based aircraft supported by a handful of visitors. This year at the Military Airshow it was the visitors who stole much of the attention and most of the plaudits.
To start at the end, the BBMF Lancaster was - not for the first time in 2023 - one of the major highlights. Its display was somewhat later than planned because high winds had delayed its take-off, and consequently its series of displays at Swansea and Headcorn as well as at Old Warden. The BBMF were nevertheless determined to carry through their programme and waited for the prospect of sufficiently calm conditions to enable their tour of the various airshows. Although there were the delays, with much credit to the BBMF, those displays did go ahead.
By the time the Lancaster reached Old Warden it was around 30 minutes after the show would otherwise have ended and after the RAF Falcons had jumped and taken their salute from World War 2 bomber pilot and veteran, George Dunn DFC LdH, in what would otherwise have been the finale.
Regrettably, some visitors left during that interval but the majority stayed and enjoyed yet another stunning series of flypasts along the curved flightline, with more close topsides than spectators could hope for at the vast majority of venues.
Another four-engined bomber, and also a visitor, was a second highlight of the day. Peter Kuypers brought Boeing B17G 'Sally B' to the crowdline on schedule for his usual impressive and varied display.
Smaller and less frequently seen, two of the most interesting visitors were Simon Tilling's North American NA-145 Navion and Richard Ellingworth flying a Soko J-20 Kraguj. The Kraguj, which means 'Sparrowhawk', is a 1960's Yugoslavian design and was especially notable for the loud rasping sound of its engine. The Navion is a 1940's design very popular with owner-flyers: this one displaying the colours of the US Army with whom the type served after WWII, for example in Korea.
Rotary Wing visitors, the Gazelle Squadron, were out in force, with their full complement of four Westland Gazelle HT2 and HT3 helicopters in different liveries. They were on the main crowdline for most of the day giving visitors an opportunity to see them close-up before and after their full four-ship close formation routines and solo display.
Alistair Williams provided a heart-stopping interlude during his display of the Rolls Royce Heritage Flight's Mustang. Towards its end, the engine was heard to cut out twice. A group of pilots could be seen to jump to their feet and peer in the direction of the ensuing silence. After an interval, and to the apparent surprise of the commentators, the Mustang returned and performed roll, as though to prove he no longer had a problem. It is reported that there was a temporary fuel supply issue but that a few minutes off-site enabled a correction to be made and, although the display had ended a little prematurely, all was well.
|Operated by Shuttleworth|
|Avro 504K G-ADEV|
|Avro C19 Anson G-AHKX in RAF Coningsby colours (was BAe Systems but donated to Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Avro Triplane replica G-ARSG (Shuttleworth Collection)(CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Avro Tutor G-AHSA 'K3241'|
|Blériot XI (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Bristol Boxkite (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Bristol F2.b (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth G-ANKT 'K2585'|
|DH88 Comet, Shuttleworth Collection|
|DHC Chipmunk T.22 (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Deperdussin (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|English Electric Wren (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|EoN Olympia, Shuttleworth Collection|
|Gloster Gladiator Mk 1 G-AMRK 'K7985' (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED)|
|Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk Ib G-BKTH Z7105/7-L, Shuttleworth Collection|
|Miles Magister 'P6382' G-AJRS (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Sopwith Pup (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Sopwith Triplane replica 'N6290 Dixie ll': Shuttleworth Collection (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk Vc G-AWII 'AR501' (Shuttleworth Collection) (CANCELLED - conditions unsuitable)|
|Westland Lysander IIIA G-AZWT (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress G-BEDF 'Sally B' (B-17 Preservation Ltd)|
|BBMF Lancaster 'PA474 Leader'|
|North American Navion – Simon Tilling|
|North American P-51D Mustang: Rolls Royce Heritage Flight|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia G-CFGJ 'N3200' (IWM)|
|Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXe G-RYIX 'TE517' (privately owned, operated by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar). Display curtailed|
|Soko J-20 Kraguj – Richard Ellingworth|
|Supermarine Seafire XVII – Navy Wings (CANCELLED - technical issue)|
|North American Harvard Mk IV G-NWHF (Navy Wings) (Late addition to replace the Seafire)|
|Gazelle Squadron. Four Westland Gazelle Helicopters|
|RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team|
Other visiting warbirds included Spitfire Mk IX TE517. TE517 had only returned to flight in April 2023 following lengthy renovation. It was the last of two surviving Spitfires in the Czechoslovak Air Force and was due to fly with Shuttleworth's Mk Vc Spitfire AR501 in a tribute to the Czechoslovakian contribution to WWII. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong for AR501 to fly at all and, shortly after take-off, the pilot of TE517 sensed a rough-running engine and abandoned his display, returning to land at the airfield without incident.
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.
Shuttleworth Collection's Gloster Gladiator was due to display with the Imperial War Museum's Mk 1a Spitfire N3200, to represent aircraft available in the early stages of WWII. Unfortunately, the Gladiator was another victim of the unseasonable weather but Jon Gowdy was able to present one of the best Spitfire displays seen at Old Warden for a very long time, taking full advantage of the curved crowdline to provide a formidable display of this historic example of a WWII favourite.
Other representatives of Shuttleworth-based WWII aircraft included the Avro Anson, painted to represent one that would have been used by the RAF at Coningsby; their Polikarpov Po-2, a 2-seater trainer used mainly by the Soviet Air Force; the de Havilland DH.88 Comet, which was really a racer rather than a military plane but one that had once been considered for military use and the Westland Lysander, a british army co-operation and liaison aircraft best known these days for its use in covert operations.
The final planned visitor was Navy Wings Supermarine Mk XVII Seafire, although this was also unable to fly, this time because of an ongoing technical issue. In its place, Navy Wings displayed their Mk IV Harvard. Over the years, Shuttleworth military airshows have frequently focussed on Naval Aircraft: the Fly Navy shows in particular have been amongst the most popular shows at Old Warden. This year the naval contribution to the military airshow was more modest. Apart from the Harvard, the naval theme was represented by the collection's Hawker Sea Hurricane flown by Dodge Bailey and naval livery amongst the four Westland Gazelles of the Gazelle Squadron.
Despite the cancellations and abbreviated displays, the visiting aircraft provided huge variety, significant novelty and great a flying addition to supplement the displays by the Collection's Old Warden based aircraft.
This is to take nothing away from the excellence of the displays by aircraft based in the Shuttleworth Collection. These Old Warden residents can always be depended upon to provide displays that are not only expertly flown but also seldom seen away from the local airfield.
As is the custom at Shuttleworth, most of the displays of Shuttleworth aircraft were collected into themed groups: displayed as a group and then individually or in pairs. One such group represented aircraft used by the RAF as tainers in the two decades stretching from before to after the second world war and comprising the Miles Magister, DHC-1 Chipmunk, Tiger Moth and Avro Tutor. Separately, the Percival Provost and EoN Olympia Glider continued the training theme with solo displays by Mark Sharp and Graham Saw respectively.
It can't be denied that the unseasonable weather, and especially the very strong winds, reduced the number and variety of aircraft in the displays. It seemed inevitable from an early stage that the delicate Edwardians would be unable to fly but it is more unusual for the gusts to claim less delicate and slightly more recent victims as well. Technical issues took their toll on the flying programme, too. Nevertheless, with late replacements and determination typical of the team at Shuttleworth, as well as the BBMF and other operators, visitors were able to enjoy over three hours of displays as well as the myriad of ground attractions generating the atmosphere for which the venue is deservedly so well reputed.
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 9DT but, as with all shows, ignore the sat nav in favour of local show signs as soon as you see them.
There are links to other route planners in the Travel Advice section.
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.
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.
The location is already built in to the link but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.
A full 7 day Old Warden weather forecast from the UK Met Office
The Met Office 7-day forecast includes actual and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's 14-day forecast has overall conditions including and hourly estimate of temperature, wind direction, wind speed and UV range.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.
June (1st and) 2nd. Airshow on 2nd only
Available now via the Shuttleworth web site
Car parking is free and does not have to be booked
Gates open 9.00
Flying from 14.00
Flying ends around 17:00
For links to other travel and route planning web sites, click the 'Getting There' tab