The season opener at Shuttleworth was eagerly anticipated for unfortunately the wrong reasons. With the Red Arrows making there first appearance at Shuttleworth in 30 years the majority of the pre show focus was on the likely impacts of the latest CAA regulations and in particular the new display distances. With Shuttleworth known for its intimate setting visitors and enthusiasts were rightly concerned on how this would be impacted. In the weeks before the Shuttleworth Premier speculation of changes were abound and Shuttleworth very promptly replied to queries and confirmed the minor changes to the crowd line and not so minor changes to the display distances.


The day of the Shuttleworth Premier was blessed with clear sunny skies and warm temperatures as forecast and I suspect it’s was this and the prospects of the Red Arrows that made the show a sell out from lunchtime on the Saturday. Arriving at 9am the front car park and crowd line was already 2/3 full but we managed to get parked on the front row at the collage end where the crowd line had previously dog legged towards the runway. This section had been straightened with a new fence in front of the old fence to maintain a consistent distance from the runway.
The morning was broken up with the Lysander performing a practise display and the arrival of the Blenheim plus a chance to look round the collection. Peter Teichman opened the show at 2pm with his P40 Kittyhawk. Pete flew a very impressive aerobatic display but was noticeably further away. This was followed by the PO2 which like most of the home aircraft used the short runway due to a strong crosswind. The PO2’s display was disappointingly nothing more than a few distant circuits. The same could also be said for John Bettie’s display in the T6 Harvard.

Next up was the Lysander which was joined by the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch in a demonstration of army cooperation aircraft. The Lysander was used to drop off and pick up agents behind enemy lines and was very effective on short runways often created in fields by local resistance operators. It had been grounded and in the workshop since Oct 2014 after excessive undercarrage wear was found requiring a full rebuild of the undercarrage beam meaning the ‘Lizzie’ missed the 2015 season. The Storch, the German equiverlant could literally hang in the air which made it an excellent observation aircraft but an easy target.

With the Lysander and Storch back on the ground commentator Jim Calloway was joined by Red 10 Mike Ling, the Red Arrows supervisor and display commentator and just after 3pm the Red Arrows made their signature start to their display entering from the rear of the crowd. We had already been warned that a full display was not possible, not due to the weather as there was hardly a cloud in sight but due to the proximity of Luton airport flight paths. The Reds put in a quality if not disjointed display and it was very difficult at times to work out where the display datum actually was. This of course wasn’t helped when a Gazelle helicopter strayed into the controlled airspace and the display had to be stopped. Once the offender who no doubt will have a lot of explaining to do on Monday morning had left there was only sufficient time (and more importantly fuel) to do the closing manoeuvre.
Restarting the home displays with a celebration of trainer aircraft was a four ship formation comprised of the stunningly polished Ryan STA, Scott Butler in the Miles Mesinger, Mark Sharp in the Tiger Moth and the Blackburn B2 before the later broke to perform a solo display.
 This was followed by a three ship inter war formation with the home based Hawker Demon, Gloster Gladiator and R4118 Hawker Hurricane making several passes before the Hurricane performed one of the most notable displays of the afternoon with closer passes then most other aircraft and several topsides.
Providing something differant was Peter Davies in the highly manouverable Calidus Gyro before the WWI aircraft that were able to fly in the strong cross winds in the shape of the Bristol Fighter and RAF SE5A took to the skies.
The Czech aerobatic Lunak glider lauched behind the Cub then did a very graceful aerobatic routine complete with smoke trails. Its display was very short, not surprising for the amount of dynamic manourvers it made but it was very quiet and graceful to watch. Breaking the quiet taking off in formation along the side runway was the 4 aircraft of the Global Stars display team on their maiden appearance in the UK. Having trained in India over the winter they performced a very impressive display with an unusual dotted smoke trail.


The finale to the show started with a very lackluster display from the Avro Anson with just high level flat passes down the display line. Thankfully it was joined by the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol Blenheim Mk.I in a unique formation with the Blenheim breaking into a solo display. John Romain piloting the Blenheim then went on to provide the stand out performance of the day showing off this magnificently restored aircraft to its full potential.
Overall a very mixed day with superb displays from the Hurricane, Blenheim and Global Stars mixed with very flat performances from the Lizzie, P02 and Avro Anson. Whether this was down to the crosswinds as much as pilots getting used to the new CAA regulations only time will tell. Several pilots have come out and said the new regulations make it harder to display and having a display line over the trees instead of the runway cannot be a good idea in anyone’s book. Despite this Shuttleworth continues to be an excellent location to show off these vintage aircraft and the organisation on the day was excellent. Despite the sell out crowd I was in and out very quickly and never had to queue for the food stalls or toilets. Credit should also be given to the Collection for their prompt responses to queries in the run up to the show when almost daily rumours of the impacts of the new regulations were doing the rounds. Personally I enjoyed the day albeit with the caveats mentioned already but I look forward to returning in a months time for the Fly Navy event.