REPORT: Shuttleworth Fly Navy Airshow 2016

Sunday 5th June 2016 was the scheduled day for the hotly anticipated Fly Navy air show at the Shuttleworth Collection. With the theme being based on naval aviation there was plenty of options for the flying display. A wide variety of aircraft and helicopters were scheduled to take part.

On the list to participate in the flying and the static displays were: Sea Vixen from the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, Fairey Swordfish, DHC-1 Chipmunk T-10, both of the Royal Navy Historic Flight. Seafire 3, Moraine MS317, Westland Wasp, Harvard T6, Bristol Scout, Hawker Nimrod x2, Gloster Gladiator x2, Grumman Wildcat, Goodyear Corsair, Grumman Bearcat, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Dakota & Hurricane. Merlin Mk2 helicopter from 824 Naval Air Squadron and Lynx helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron. Both Naval helicopters were a part of the static display.

As always the collection at Shuttleworth provides a number of their own aircraft to take part. At the Fly Navy airshow, those were the Tiger Moth, Miles Magister, Avro Tutor, Avro Anson, De Havilland Dragon Rapide, Sea Hurricane 1B, DH60 Gypsy Moth, Hawker Demon, Avro 504k, Sopwith Pup, and the  Westland Lysander.

The Avro 504K waits on the ground before the start of the airshow. Photo: Roy Gore

At air shows all aircraft are subjected to fly on weather conditions and serviceability. There were only a few cancellations on the flying display: the BBMF Dakota continues to be grounded due to a technical issue, so the BBMF Spitfire MK XVI TE311 replaced the Dakota. The other aircraft to hit the casualty list were the Fighter Collection’s Gloster Gladiator and the Avro 504K.

The weather started off the day as rather dismal, with an overcast sky and a chilly wind. However it went on to continually improve throughout the morning and remain gorgeous from the start of the display right to the end.

A formation of two generations of military aircraft was a fitting way to open the show. Photo: Roy Gore

The flying display started with the Shuttleworth Collection’s Hawker Sea Hurricane taking off to form up for a unique fly past involving the Sea Vixen. After the two had formed up the Sea Vixen and Sea Hurricane approached from the right for just one flypast together, before the pair split. When they separated the Sea Hurricane departed the area leaving the Sea Vixen to perform. The pilot smashed the display to the crowd’s delight. High speed passes, sharp turns and overall in my opinion the best display I have witnessed of the 2016 UK air show season thus far.

“Foxy Lady” is the world’s only airworthy Sea Vixen. Photo: Roy Gore

As the Vixen was performing, the Sea Hurricane was forming up again. This time with the Seafire, to perform a couple of flypasts. It was a beautiful sight and sound for the crowd. The pair broke apart leaving the Seafire to start her display. And what a show it was, showcasing how a warbird should be flown at an air show under the new regulations set out by the CAA. The Sea Hurricane finally took to the stage to perform a solid routine.

The Sea Hurricane and Seafire are two of Britain’s most famous WWII naval fighters. Photo: Roy Gore

The crowd were introduced to the first of the BBMF fighters, with the Mk.2c Hurricane PZ865. Which seemed to be flypasts only and lasted a maximum of five minutes, if that.

Rotary displays are well-suited to Old Warden’s short dogleg crowdline. Photo: Roy Gore

The first and only helicopter to display shortly began. The Westland Wasp showcased its fantastic agility and manoeuvrability, being thrown around under superb control. It was followed by a pair of transporter aircraft, the Avro Anson and de Havilland Dragon Rapide. Neither of the aircraft have good looks or the attraction to other types of aircraft, but they are unique and special in their own way.

The Anson and Dragon Rapide fulfilled a vital transport role during WWII. Photo: Roy Gore

After the Anson and Rapide displayed their individual routines we were treated to a wonderful trio of Hawker fighters, the Demon and two Nimrods. All look similar but have slightly different features. Three rare 1930s biplanes flying together is a wonderful sight on the eyes. Each one displayed on their own after their formation flypast.

At Shuttleworth, aircraft often perform flypasts before breaking into their solo displays. Photo: Roy Gore

As every pilot needs to learn how to fly an aircraft, they start off in trainer aircraft. A formation of four trainers was next to take stage. The Tiger Moth, Miles Magister, Avro Tutor, and the popular Chipmunk: a formation of aircraft you don’t see every day, and a very pleasant one to witness. Another example of why Shuttleworth is the place to be for true aviation enthusiasts.

Shuttleworth is known for consistantly providing large formations of rare vintage aircraft. Photo: Roy Gore

The special formations continued on with the Moraine MS317 teaming up with the DH60 Gypsy Moth. Now this is definitely something of a rare opportunity to spectate. Together they perform well, but individually the MS317 was the better showing its capabilities to a high standard. 

Two quick displays were lined up next with Westland Lysander putting in a solid display, followed by the second BBMF fighter of the day, with the Mk.XVI Spitfire. Again this display seemed to comprise of flypasts only. However it was slightly longer than the earlier BBMF Hurricane display.

Most of the lighter, older aircraft come from the Shuttleworth Collection, based at Old Warden. Photo: Roy Gore

Soon we were to be introduced to a favourite of mine, the Fairey Swordfish, a gorgeous looking naval warbird. This played a massive contribution to the demise of the formidable German WWII Battleship the Bismarck. Teaming up with the Swordfish for a formation flypast would be the Gloster Gladiator from the Shuttleworth Collection and the T-6 Harvard of Kennet Aviation. After the flypast, they broke away and the Swordfish took centre stage – a particular highlight of the show for me. The Gladiator and Harvard both put in decent displays.

The UK’s only flying Fairey Swordfish is operated by the Royal Navy Heritage Trust. Photo: Roy Gore

David Bremner was up next to display the First World War aeroplane, the Bristol Scout. It would be his debut performance at a UK air show. Credit to Mr Bremner as he displayed the Scout to a very enjoyable and high standard, which earned him a round of applause. The WW1 theme continued with both the Bristol F2.B and the Sopwith Pup performing good individual displays.

Shuttleworth is usually known for its WWI-era aircraft, such as this Bristol Scout. Photo: Roy Gore

The penultimate ending of the air show was fast approaching, but we just had to wait for three naval warbirds to arrive from Duxford: the Wildcat, Bearcat and Corsair. Entering the airspace at a quick pace from the left of the control tower, the engines roared as they danced past the crowd. One by one they all performed their pieces, the Wildcat was first, followed by the Corsair and finishing off the trio of American naval warbirds was the beastial and powerful Bearcat.

The three American WWII naval fighters came from Duxford, where they display regularly. Photo: Roy Gore

Shortly after the Bearcat had finished she teamed up again with the Corsair and Wildcat for what I believe is a first Old Warden mini Balbo flight, involving the Sea Hurricane and two Hawker Nimrods. A perfect end to a brilliant air show, the best I have been to so far this year in the UK.

With a mini-balbo, classic jets and rotary display, it was nice to see something new from Shuttleworth. Photo: Roy Gore

Shuttleworth has yet again put on a splendid day for the British public. As always there was a positive vibrance and relaxed atmosphere beating throughout Old Warden, due to the friendliness and the help from all those involved. I can’t recommend Shuttleworth enough to anyone who has a love and passion for aircraft. Until next time Shuttleworth, keep up the brilliant work!

Roy Gore is a UK based amateur aviation photographer. He runs Gore Photography. and his work can be viewed on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.