You step into a museum in London to admire the works of painter Van Gogh and every time you find something new in that painting. This is the experience I have when I visit the Shuttleworth Collection ... time and time again.


Like with the opening of the Shuttleworth Heritage day, the UK’s leading aerobatic Team “The Global Stars” under the leadership of Mark Jefferies,  flew a heady cocktail of close formation and unlimited freestyle flying and this, in front of the crowds, in shows all over the world.

Here we have three strange names; The Slings by Kite, The Schneider Grunau Baby and The Southern Martlet?  It is actually a beautiful air ballet of the Kite and the Grunau Baby supplemented with the Joker, reserved for the Martlet.  The Schneider Grunau Baby was a single-seat sailplane first built in Germany in 1931, with some 6,000 examples constructed in some 20 countries. It was relatively easy to build from plans, it flew well, and the aircraft was strong enough to handle mild aerobatics and the occasional hard landing. Otherwise, The Slingsby T.6/T.23 Kirby Kite was a single-seat sport glider produced from 1935, by Fred Slingsby in Kirbymoorside, Yorkshire. The Southern Martlett was a single-engined, single-seat, biplane sports aircraft  where only six were built, including the rather different and unsuccessful Metal Martlet. The first public appearance, on 30th August 1929, at London Air Park, Hanworth, proved to be a very manoeuvrable sports machine.

De Havilland’s famous Comet Racer and winner of the 1934 England-Australia air race, in a time of  70 hours and 54 minutes and with a top speed of 382km / h and a reach of no less than 4710km.

After the closure of Hatfield in 1994, the aircraft returned to Old Warden where, initially, the runway was too short to allow safe operation.  After the runway was lengthened in 1999, sadly in 2002, the Comet suffered undercarriage failure when landing after its first test flight. Subsequently modifications to the structure were approved and implemented and the aircraft flew again. After successful test flights on 1st August 2014 it is now a regular performer at Shuttleworth air displays.

The  Miles Hawk Speed Six,  a British two-seat light monoplane, was built in 1930s and designed by Miles Aircraft Limited.

The Focke-Wulf Fw 44 is a 1930s German two-seat biplane known as the Stieglitz ore "Goldfinch". It was produced by the Focke-Wulf company as a pilot training and sport flying aircraft.  Its two open cockpits were arranged in tandem, and both cockpits were equipped with flight controls and instruments. The Fw 44 had fixed tailwheel landing gear. It employed ailerons on both upper and lower wings. It did not use flaps. It was flown with a Siemens-Halske Sh 14 radial engine.

The Avro 621 Tutor was a simple but rugged initial trainer that was used by the Royal Air Force as well as many other air arms worldwide.  The Model 621 was powered either by a 155 hp (116 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose or Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV (180 hp/130 kW) or IVC (240 hp/179 kW) engine; later Lynx-powered models had the engine enclosed in a Townend ring cowling. The Mongoose-powered version was called the 621 Trainer and the more numerous Lynx-engined aircraft the Tutor.  The Tutor also differed by having a more rounded rudder.  The Avro 621 Tutor K3241 from the Shuttleworth Collection has in 1979 major engine problems resulted in the aircraft being grounded. A worldwide search failed to produce a suitable replacement engine so the existing Lynx was painstakingly rebuilt by a senior engineer. The cylinders were sent to the USA to be refurbished.  It was completely re-covered in 2005/6 and is now painted in CFS Aerobatic team colours as K3241.

The Douglas C-47 Dakota is without a doubt one of the most successful aircraft designs in history, C-47 was adopted by Strike Command and issued to the BBMF in March 1993. In 2004, an original and authentic floor and interior was re-fitted to the Dakota, returning the cabin to the original, wartime specification.ZA947 is now painted to represent Dakota FZ692 of No 233 Squadron, around the D-Day period in 1944. This aircraft, which was named ‘Kwicherbichen’ by her crews, was involved in Para-dropping operations on the eve of D-Day and subsequently in re-supply and casualty evacuation missions into and out of forward airfields in the combat areas.  Today, we are fortunate enough to see it for a brief intervention on Shuttleworth Heritage Day.

And now we make time for a magical moment, two spitfires in the sky above Old Warden.  The Supermarine Spitfire PL983 of Historic Flying Ltd at Duxford in is reconnaissance Blue livery of its time serving in Europe with 4 squadron, the PL983 flew together the Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI serial number PL965 and like the PL983 he is a photo reconnaissance aircraft, she was designed to operate at high altitudes (over 30,000 ft) as well as at high speeds of over 400 mph, and as such was the fastest of all the Merlin powered Spitfires.  A true magical moment in the sky above Old Warden.

Another beautiful creation from De Havilland; The de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is a biplane designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and built in 1930s by the de Havilland Aircraft Company.  It was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), as well as many other countries,  as a primary trainer aircraft. During the demo of The Tiger Moth, it was assisted by two Miles Magister, first of the two was the Miles Magister  built in 1939 and entered service with the RAF as P6382. However, when it was acquired in 1971, it bore the bogus civil registration G-AJDR.  After restoration, it was back in flying condition by the Shuttleworth Collection after using components from three other specimens and making the P6382 one of only four airworthy examples in the world.  The story of the N3788, the other Miles Magister, begins with a civil registration G-AKPF and ‘civilianised’ by Wolverhampton 

Aviation Ltd, the aircraft was granted its original Certificate of Airworthiness on 23 April 1948.  It had a mixed career as a flying school aircraft, mostly with Air Schools Ltd of Wolverhampton. The Miles Magister N3788,  is now privately owned by David Bramwell, who is a pilot for The Shuttleworth Collection.

The Polikarpov Po-2 built in the  Soviet Union in 1929 and powered by a 74 kW (99 hp) Shvetsov M-11 air-cooled five-cylinder radial engine.  The reliable, uncomplicated concept of the Po-2's design made it an ideal training aircraft, as well as doubling as a low-cost ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, psychological warfare and liaison aircraft during the war.

The Gloster Gladiator L8032 is a British biplane fighter.  It was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and built in 1937 but not actually assembled until 1938.  In 1948, together with the Gladiator II N5903, was bought by Glosters. In 1950 the two were delivered to Air Service Training for use as instructional airframes at Hamble and Ansty.  When Ansty closed, the aircraft were bought by Viv Bellamy for a nominal sum.  L8032 was restored using the engine from N5903 and flew again as G-AMRK.  L8032 was bought back by Glosters in 1953 and in 1956 returned to full military specification in 72 Squadron markings, albeit with the fictitious serial K8032.  When Gloster Aircraft closed, the Gladiator was presented to The Collection for safe keeping on 7 November 1960.  In 1990 the aircraft was repainted in a camouflage scheme, with No 247 Squadron codes and wore these until a fabric re-cover was carried out in 1996.  In 2007 it re-appeared as K7985 of 73 Squadron RAF, the aircraft flown by the WWII Ace ‘Cobber’ Kain at the 1937 Hendon Air Pageant and is still number one among the public during events at Shuttleworth.

The return to the skies of the Spitfire AR501, a story and restoration which took over 10 years to complete by the Collection’s full-time engineering team and skilled volunteers, involved completely dismantling the airframe into its smallest components to inspect and refurbish all the parts.  The project included the complete overhaul of the 1,440hp Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine, also carried out ‘in house’ and a new propeller and spinner.  On Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 15:47 and in the hands of experienced warbird pilot Stu Goldspink.  The pilot reported that the aircraft is handling beautifully and all systems functioning correctly with just a couple of minor adjustments required.  A second, longer, test flight was carried out the next morning confirming the aircraft is behaving well.  The AR501 flew on Heritage Day together with Hurricane duo (Z7015 and P3717).

The Hurricane P3717 is privately owned and has been placed with the collection to serve as a living reminder of the sacrifice and valour of the young men who flew the type during the second World War.

The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter aircraft introduced on the Western Front in 1917.  It was developed by the Sopwith Aviation Company as a successor to the earlier Sopwith Pup and became one of the most iconic fighter aircraft of the First World War.

The building of the Camel (D1851) started in 1995.  Throughout the build, suitable materials were sourced via Old Warden and the project was overseen by the Light Aircraft Association.

Work continued until the summer of 2013 and then, as the lease on the Batley workshop was due to expire, the aircraft was collected on 28th August that year and delivered to Old Warden for completion by the full-time engineers. Final ground run tests on the engine were carried out on 24 August 2016 and on Thursday 18 May 2017 the Sopwith Camel successfully flew for the first time, in the hands of chief pilot Dodge Bailey. 

Another trio at Shuttleworth Heritage Day,  the DH60X MOTH (G-EBWD) which was built in 1928 and used by the Brooklands School of Flying.  Richard Shuttleworth learnt to fly in ‘BWD’ which he purchased in 1932 as his first aeroplane. It was originally powered by a 65hp Cirrus I engine but in 1933 it was re-engined with a 105hp Cirrus Hermes II.  The second aircraft was the 1931 DESOUTTER I (G-AAPZ) and It underwent a lengthy rebuild with a new supercharged 150hp Menasco C-45 Pirate engine, redesigned tail surfaces, modified windscreen and new Bendix brakes fitted to Puss Moth wheels. The fuselage was painted in blue Titanine with silver flying surfaces and the aeroplane was test flown in 1938.  In 1985 a long term restoration programme began to rebuild the Desoutter as a Mk 1 standard model, to be repainted in the original National Flying Services livery.  On 26th January 1998, G-AAPZ was successfully flown for the first time in 56 years.  Last but not least in this trio, The Comper Swift (G-ACTF).

 The Schneider SG-38 Schulgleiter (German for “School Glider”) is a single-seat glider that was designed by Schneider, Rehberg and Hofman at Edmund Schneider’s factory at Grunau in 1938. The primary structure of the glider is of wood, with the wings, tail surfaces and inverted "V" kingpost all finished in doped aircraft fabric covering. The pilot sits on a simple seat in the open air, without a windshield and the usual launch method was by bungee cord from a sloped hill.  But now brought to the air by the 1961 Piper Super Club.  The role of the Joker was for the Auster.

The Avro 504 K, a masterpiece in the British aviation industry with British aircraft designed by British designers and made by British engineers/craftsmen.  After WWII, it was returned to civilian use and converted back to K specification by Avro apprentices for the film Reach for the Sky – and then donated to the Shuttleworth Collection.  The 1917 Bristol F2.B Fighter was a British two-seater biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War developed by Frank Barnwell at the Bristol Aeroplane Company and after its time in the War, the Bristol F2.B/D8096 came into the entrusted  care of the Shuttleworth Collection.  After twenty-eight years with the Shuttleworth Collection, the Bristol F2.B  underwent a complete refurbishment from engine to airframe during 1980-82.  In 1992 the engine (the oldest working Rolls-Royce aero engine in the world) was replaced by an overhauled unit.  The original was rebuilt and is kept as a fully working spare. The Collection’s Bristol Fighter is the only airworthy original flying example in Europe.The Bristol M.1C Scout Monoplane was produced by Bristol as a private venture, flying for the first time at Filton on 14th July 1916.The Bristol M.1C flew first over the sky’s of Old Warden on 25th September 2000.

The Pitts Model 12 is a high performance aerobatic biplane with speeds of 170mph. The propellor makes an unusual whining noise. It made its first maiden flight in 1945. This beautiful stunning silver plane looks magnificent up in the blue clouds in the afternoon sun.

The last entry at The Heritage Day…….the Edwardians……

The Roe IV Triplane is an early British aircraft designed by Alliott Verdon Roe and built by A.V. Roe and Company. It was first flown in September 1910.  It is powered by a 35 horsepower (26 kW) Green water-cooled four-cylinder inline engine, with the radiator mounted above the fuselage between the front inner interplane struts. The Bristol Boxkite is a two-bay biplane with an elevator carried on booms in front of the wings and an empennage consisting of a pair of fixed horizontal stabilisers, the upper bearing an elevator, and a pair of rudders carried on booms behind the wing. There are no fixed vertical surfaces. Lateral control is effected by ailerons on both upper and lower wings. These are single-acting, the control cables arranged to pull them down only, relying on the airflow to return them to the neutral position. The wings and fixed rear horizontal surfaces are covered by a single layer of fabric, the other surfaces are covered on both sides. Power is usually provided by a 50 hp (37 kW) Gnome rotary engine, although other engines were also used.