I'm pretty much still smiling after a fabulous day at Shuttleworth's opening airshow of the season on Sunday. Shuttleworth is a gorgeous venue - a real favourite of mine as you are always guaranteed an array of wonderful old aircraft including the warbirds I love so much. Also, quite often, you're guaranteed great company as well - and this time was no exception. Normally it's a case of rock up there and meet people, but because of the current restrictions around Covid-19 this time was a drive-in airshow so a little more logistically challenging, which is why 9am on Sunday morning saw myself, Max, Kevin & Sven, Richard, Mark and his Mrs (Wendy I think?) and Adam gathering in a car park on the outskirts of Biggleswade to travel in convoy to the show.
The organisation at the Shuttleworth estate was superb - a large holding area for those arriving ahead of the official gates open time, then well managed queues to the ticket gates and a special convoy system for groups of vehicles wanting to be placed together. People were also being very conscious about giving others space in food queues, and while generally wandering about.
Opening the show was the Consolidated Catalina in the photograph at the top - a stunningly beautiful aircraft. She'd flown in ahead of displaying so seeing her powering up and taking off was an additional treat. Next up was a series of flypasts by two of the Spitfires of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - one of the two flown by my pal Andy, who managed to multi-task what might be described as a "sporty" entrance, a cracking topside view of the aircraft AND a wave, all at the one time - impressive!
If ever an aircraft looked like it simply belonged in the sky, flirting with the clouds, then this is it. This particular example also has an illustrious history - winner of many air races in the 1930's, it also appeared as a static exhibit at the Festival of Great Britain in 1951. Above all it is just stunningly beautiful and a joy to see fly. THIS is what the Shuttleworth Collection does so well - taking classic aircraft and putting them where they belong - up in the sky.
Sunday was a brilliant day - great company, great aircraft, lots of banter...and if driving into the show and having to stay in our own little allocated areas by our vehicles is currently the way we can actually have airshows, then that's worth it to me. It was fantastic to spend time with good friends, and catch up with others who I'd not seen in ages. Max and I have already booked for another Shuttleworth show in a few weeks time - and it just feels brilliant to have airshows to look forward to again!