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Six Pitts Specials of various configurations took part in an actual air race, something that was both unique, and entertaining, and credit to Shuttleworth for bringing shades of Reno to sleepy middle-England.
The Race Day had some other significant draws, too. The gorgeous Comet was, of course, pencilled, and that, along with the Mew Gull and Mew Gull replica were very literally in their element.
In formation with the unique and gorgeous Travel Air Type R "Mystery Ship", the quartet of classic air racers looked wonderful in the changeable October light.
Other unique items included the pride of the Collection, recently-restored Spitfire AR in formation with a pair of float-planes to commemorate the Schneider Air Race trophy.
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The out of the box thinking, and genuinely interesting over the run-of-the-mill display from the Spitfire were engaging and great to watch. That's not to say that solo Spitfire displays at Shuttleworth aren't wanted; the other Spitfire on the list, ARCo's L-for-Lettice was flown by John Romain in one of the best Spitfire routines ever witnessed by the crowd. The variety, the proximity, the noise, and the grace of the display was tremendous. This isn't said lightly, but John Romain in one of his mounts at Shuttleworth is, for warbird displays, about as good as it gets.
It's perhaps a bit fawning, but no-less true to say that he is a latter-day Hanna.
On the topic of display pilots, it was announced - almost abruptly - that as Roger Bailey landed the Blackburn Monoplane Type 'D', described as "the Chief Pilot's aeroplane" that, whilst he will still fly the venerable machines in the future, the Race Day was his final Shuttleworth show as Chief Pilot of the Collection.
Away from the pilots, and back to the machines themselves, unique acts such as the three Comper Swifts participating should not be overlooked, either. Though the three did not quite make it into the air at once during the show, they did manage it earlier in the day.
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There is, truly, nowhere else in the world today that such an event would take place. In some respects, Race Day was very much a Shuttleworth by the numbers affair. While perhaps not quite as visually striking as its former "Jumpin' Jacques" incarnation, the new, and historically-accurate, paint on the machine makes quite an impression, and really seems to come to life when the sun shines.
Sadly, this didn't happen during Peter's show-opening display, during which the sun managed to hide itself behind a lump of clag for the duration of his routine.
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He still seems higher and perhaps tamer than his displays in previous years, but we can put this down to the CAA's current reign of terror, and a pilot perhaps living in fear of a "red card" stoppage which could lose him his ability to display his much-prized collection.
A touching, warm embrace between the two men which rates among the finest moments at Shuttleworth in While much of the display fought a running battle with the scattered cloud, the aircraft who displayed later in the day enjoyed the better of the conditions.
Peter Davies produced a stunning display of aerobatics in his Calidus autogyro - one which certainly revised my opinion of an act I'd always dismissed as "filler" on many display programmes. Mark Jefferies routine in the Extra was another high-octane crowd-pleaser. Pete Kynsey flew the tiny Cosmic Wind with great aerobatic flair, and was well-received on landing.
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- Shuttleworth Collection 'Race Day' Airshow
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After listening to a wonderfully candid and revealing "Pilot's Talk" with Paul Stone earlier in the day, his display in the machine failed to really satisfy. And his landing seemed to be very fast, even for the notoriously capricious Comet, necessitating, from my view, a very hasty near-"handbrake turn" off the runway at the intersection up to the paddock. Comparing Stone's staccato routine to the later, albeit shorter one flown by Chief Pilot Roger "Dodge" Bailey revealed a remarkable difference.
Bailey, rather like John Romain's Bristol Blenheim routines, makes the aeroplane dance.NATO Tiger Meet 2018 Air-to-Air Photo Shoot with Polish Tigers by hesja
Manoeuvres seem to flow into each other with a real grace. Swooping down onto the airfield, dipping the wing, climbing away into a high wingover.
And in perfect, golden evening sunlight too. It's no exaggeration to say that an hour of watching "Dodge" fly the Comet like this would still not feel long enough. Wonderful, and worth the admission fee on its own.
Shuttleworth Collection 'Race Day' Airshow by UK Airshow Review
It would be easy to sit here and write a list of what displayed, when it flew and who flew it, but that's not what Old Warden airshows are about. Shuttleworth is about drinking in the day. Meeting up with friends, flapping your gums, taking a stroll around the hangars, before taking your seat and letting history wash over you. Yes, the Race Day airshow wasn't perfect, but as a way of giving airshow apathy a welcome boot, it couldn't be beaten.