In a show firmly aimed at the enthusiasts, Shuttleworth Fly Navy had created a very special line up of Naval aviation for their second show of the year.
Noticeable quieter than the opening show, the event had a very relaxed feel to it although the flightline walk in the morning proved very popular, selling out early. This was followed by the usual classic vehicle display around lunchtime.
Although the day had started very misty and overcast, this had burnt off and we were left with clear blue skies as the Fly Navy Heritage Trust’s Sea Vixen FAW2 (Fighter all Weather) G-CVIX XP924 opened the show.
Forming up over the back of the airfield to hit its 2pm slot bang on, XP924, the only flying Sea Vixen in the world started with a fly past with Shuttleworth’s Sea Hurricane before performing a superb flat display flown to perfection by Commander Simon Hargreaves OBE.
This cold war fighter built by da Havilland flew from Royal Navy carriers during the 1960 and 70’s and this example served with 899 Naval Air Squadron. Following retirement she obtained a permit to fly and was repainted in Red Bull colours in 2003. At the end of the sponsorship deal in 2007 she transfered to De Havilland who got her flying again in her original navy colours after a years break.
Worthy of the admission fee alone there was concern that the show may have peaked too early with the Sea Vixen up first but this wasn’t the case. The acts had been carefully put together so each one represented a different element of naval aviation history and there was plenty more to come.
Next up was the beautifully restored Sea fire 3 owned by Air Leasing and flown by Dave Puleston. Sadly it didn’t land, flying in and back from its base at Sywell rather than being available on static display. This was followed by the first of the two fly pasts from the BBMF with Flight Lieutenant Andy Preece in the MCIIc Hurricane PZ865.
On the flightline were a trio of Westland helicopters with the Westland Scout, Lynx and Wasp. The later, XT787 owned and flown by Terrry Martin wears the camouflage and markings of the type flown in the Falklands war when the Wasp became the first Royal Navy Helicopter to sink a ship, attacking and sinking the Argentine submarine Santa Fe in the opening engagement of the conflict. Today she took to the air in a blaze of grass cuttings before displaying her great manoeuvrability along the runway.
This was followed by the BAE Systems Avro Anson and DH Dragon Rapide representing transport aircraft.
Formations featured heavily in the flying schedule and the next one was a trio of Hawker aircraft from the inter war years. The collections 1937 Hawker Demon flew with a pair of mk1 and mk2 Nimrods from the Fighter Collection and the Historic Aircraft Company both of which had made the short trip from Duxford. The Demon broke off to perform a solo display followed by the Nimrod’s.
The collections Tiger Moth and Miles Magister was joined by the Avro Tutor and the RNHF’s Chipmonk for a four ship Trainer formation. The Chipmonk piloted by RNHT’s Lt Cdr Chris Gotke then broke for a very impressive and dynamic solo display.
Following the departure from the Westlast Lynx from the flightline the collections DH60 Moth took to the air with a new visitor to Shuttleworth, Aiden Grimley giving a dynamic display in the Morane-Saulnier MS317. Rob Millenship in the Lysander flew a stronger and closer display than last month with a nice topside pass for the photographers this time. Second of the BBME Fly Pasts was Group Captain Jez Attridge in the Spitfire TE311.
The Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) based at Yeovilton were a major contributor to the day with their Fairey Swordfish Mk.I W5856 leading a flypast alongside the Shuttleworth’s Gloster Gladiator and a T6 Harvard from Kennet Aviation flown by the RNHF’s Chris Godka in his second outing of the day. The Swordfish, one of only three airworthy examples in the world, then broke to perform a memorable solo display finished off with a saluted pass complete with Royal Ensign flying out of the cockpit. The Gladiator piloted by former Sea Harrier pilot Paul Stone and the Harvord then went on to each perform a solo display with the Harvold display more dynamic than the one a month ago at the previous show.
Following this was a WWI formation consisting of David Bremner’s 1264 Bristol Scout, in its first public display, alongside the collections Bristol Fighter and Sopwith Pup. The Bristol Scout is a fully restored early Type C, the first type of a wheeled aircraft to fly from the deck of a ship, the Royal Navy carrier HMS Vixdex in 1915.
For the show finale, tearing in from the left for a fly past were the Fighter Collection’s three ship formation of the Grumman FM-2 Wildcat, Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat and Goodyear Corsair FG-1D before breaking to each give very powerful solo displays with high looping manoeuvres and fast passes.
Taking off and joining them for a mini balbo were The Fighter Collections Hawker Nimrod Mk.I and Shuttleworth’s Hawker Sea Hurricane and Hawker Nimrod Mk.II.
As an encore the RNHF’s Swordfish, T6 Harvard and Chipmunk performed a final flypast before they left for home in one of the outstanding passes of the day.
In a very strong contender for airshow of the year, Shuttleworth Fly Navy had taken a challenging theme and delivered an outstanding airshow which will take some beating. Commentary was from the very authoritative and well spoken Ben Dunell, who knows when to speak and when to let the crowd enjoy the sounds of the aircraft.