As a foreigner living in London, I have a list of things that I associate with Britain and that I really want to see and do such as going for Afternoon Tea or watching a Boat Race, because those things are typically British to me.
And going to an Airshow to see historic aircrafts flying was definitely on my list!
I went to Shuttleworth, which is located in Bedfordshire, not far away from Luton. It is a registered charitable trust that was set up in 1940 by Dorothy Shuttleworth in memory of her son, who died aged 31 in a flying accident.
The Shuttleworth family were avid collectors of vintage aircrafts and vehicles and it was Dorothy Shuttleworth’s wish to promote her son’s love and hobby for aircrafts and aviation as well as the family’s interest in agriculture. The Shuttleworth Collection was born and is now open to the public to enjoy.
What is special about this trust is, that the vehicles and aircrafts are all preserved, restored and in working conditions. It is called a living and working collection.
During certain events, visitors have the opportunity to see those rare and unique aircrafts flying. Many of them are the last of their type and many of them are over 100 years old! They are a piece of living history.
There are so many sites all over the country that have airshows and especially during the summer months there seems to be something going on every weekend.
If you have missed one close to you do not worry. There are plenty more opportunities most likely within an hour drive from you. I found this website that shows when and where the next airshow takes place. So, no excuse! Give one at least a go and I promise you will not be disappointed.
THE SHUTTLEWORTH SITE
There are three areas to Shuttleworth. There is the Swiss Garden, which is a charming garden with a picturesque landscape. Perfect to escape and relax.
The garden is big and there are several picnic areas spread across, which is perfect for summer picnics.
The second site is the House. It was built in 1875 and is nowadays used for functions, weddings as well as filming.
Some of the rooms still have their unique features such as the gold-leaf ceiling in the Ballroom, which is so beautiful as well as the wood panelling. However, the majority of the house looks like it has been refurbished, it does not look modern though, to accommodate the events business.
And last but not least the Hangers and Workshop that host the collection. You can find Edwardian airplanes like the Wright Brothers used to fly, World War I and II aircrafts and vintage airplanes. The collection also features classic motorcycles, bicycles and cars.
I found the Edwardian airplanes especially interesting as I have never seen one before, but the entire collection is fascinating.
- Opening times: Summer opening times (9th Feb – 27th Oct 2019): 9.30 am – 5 pm (open 7 days a week); Winter opening times: 10 am – 4 pm (open 7 days a week)
- Admission: The Collection and Swiss Garden – Adults £21.00, Concessions £18.50 and Children £3 // The Collection – Adults £16.00, Concessions £12.50 and Children £2.00 // The Swiss Garden – Adults £8.50, Concessions £7.50 and Children £2.00 // Special fares apply on event days though (see website)
- How to get there: By Public Transport – The closest rail station is Biggleswade, which is about 3 miles away from the site. From there, you can take bus 74 towards Bedford and get off at Ickwell Green, which is about 0.85 miles away from the Shuttleworth Collection entrance. Unfortunately, there is no bus that stops directly at Shuttleworth. Alternatively, you can take a cab to the site. However, they must be locally pre-booked as there is no cab rank at the station. By Car – The post code for SATNAV is SG18 9EP
- For more information please visit: http://www.shuttleworth.org/
AIRSHOW – FLYING FESTIVAL REVIEW
A few weeks ago, I went to see the Flying Festival and let me tell you it was excellent. This was my first airshow and there was so much going on during the day that even someone like me, who is not into airplanes, cars etc that much, had a lot of fun.
The airshow started around 2 pm, but the side was open from 9 am already. People were able to see the house, stroll around the garden and look at the collection in the hangers.
There was also a vintage band, which played great music and if you were hungry a few food stalls were on site as well. Although most people brought their own food and drinks and had a little picnic just in front of the airfield.
Furthermore, there were several stands from organisations such as the Royal Navi, the Military and other small organisations with an interest in aviation.
At the end of the airfield, the vintage aircrafts were placed and people had the chance to go inside and have a peak before they took off for the airshow. Unfortunately, we arrived a little later and by this time they already closed those aircrafts for visits. We underestimated how much there was to see and do!
So, if you decide to visit Shuttleworth for one of the airshows, I would recommend checking in advance what you can see and do on the day to get the most out of your visit.
The event finished around 6 pm and the airshow display lasted 4 hours. Different aircrafts such as the 1946 Avro C19 Anson were flying and some aerobatics for instance loops and rolls were performed.
However, the highlight of the show, at least for me, was the Red Arrows, which is the Royal Airforce Aerobatic Team. It takes a lot of skill to master the formations and the entire crowed was amazed and went ahh and ohh when they appeared out of nowhere.
Below you can find some more dates for airshows in Shuttleworth throughout the summer. However, if you want to find a show where the Red Arrows perform, I would recommend to have a look at their website for dates and locations.
2019 AIRSHOW DATES
- Military Airshow – Saturday 7th July
- July Evening Airshow – Saturday 20th July
- Shuttleworth Family Airshow – Sunday 4th August
- Flying Proms – Saturday 17th August
- Vintage Airshow – Sunday 1st September
- Race Day – Sunday 6th October
I went to an airshow, because my boyfriend wanted to. Like I said, I am not one that gets too excited when they hear cars, planes, transportation museum, technical aspects etc.
But I thoroughly enjoyed my day out at Shuttleworth. The collection was unique and I felt as if I stepped back in time.
I saw aircrafts that I have never seen before and I was amazed by the fact that they were not all replicas or just part of a museum, but that people look after them, maintain them and still use them.
All the airplanes had a unique history and story to tell. One for example has been in the possession of the same family for decades and it was passed on from one generation to the next. Or another aircraft such as the 1928 Hawker Tomtit in the collection is the last of its type.
There was a commentator during the display who also told you a bit about each aircraft as well as the pilots that flu them. Many of the pilots for example were retired pensioners, but they love flying so much that they cannot stop. Hence, they partake in these airshows.
The day out at Shuttleworth was interesting, informative, fun, relaxing and well worth the money we spend. Prepare a picnic when you go there as there is plenty of space in front of the airfield to sit, watch the display and eat some yummy sandwiches, salads and cakes. It was a day out for the young and old, couples and families alike and I am definitely going to go and see some more airshows in the years to come!