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Sywell Air Show 2010
 
United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom     United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A
 
United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A   United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Fokker DR-1 Dreidecker
 
Fieseler Storch Fi-156 - G-STCH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom

Sywell Air Show

Words and photography Mike Freer, additional images Stuart Freer

The sun was shining and the air was filled with the gentle purr of piston aircraft engines of years gone by, at this, the most picturesque of airfields. This was the author’s first ever visit to Sywell and the first sight to greet me was the beautiful Art Deco styled Hotel. It was like entering an airfield in the 1930s.

Sywell is situated in the heart of Northamptonshire and stages a Charity Air Show every other year. The air show this year was held on Sunday August 22nd and was in aid of the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Service. This year the organisers were overwhelmed by the success of the event with over 9,000 people attending; double the anticipated attendance and, indeed, that of previous events.

Early indications are that the money raised will be enough to operate the helicopter service for a whole month – a fantastic achievement by everyone involved.

Sywell Aerodrome is unusual in having remained in private ownership during its 75 year history and providing flying training facilities throughout this period.

Prior to the Second World War, Sywell Aerodrome was run by the Northamptonshire Aero Club. During the 1930s, flying training became a national priority as the Royal Air Force undertook a rapid expansion programme. Sywell played a major role with the establishment of a flying training school by Brooklands Aviation and also the formation of the local RAF Volunteer Reserve.

Approximately, 2,500 wartime RAF, Commonwealth and Allied pilots were trained at Sywell along with a number of Free French pilots who had escaped to England from occupied France. At the height of the training programme, 126 Tiger Moth aircraft were on strength with 6 Elementary Flying Training School.

Number 6 EFTS closed during 1947 to be replaced by 6 RAF Reserve Flying School, also under contract to Brooklands Aviation, flying a number of Tiger Moth and Oxford aircraft.

In November 1951, 4 Basic Flying Training School opened operating a fleet of 20 Chipmunk trainers. During 1953 all pilot training was transferred to RAF stations, thus ending 18 years of intense flying training for the RAF by Brooklands Aviation Ltd at Sywell.

 
De Havilland Tiger Moth - G-ANMO - Unknown   Nieupont N23 Scout   Nieuport N23 Scout - G-BWMJ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Nieuport N23 Scout - G-BWMJ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Bucker BU133 Jungmeister - G-BUTX - Unknown   De Havilland Tiger Moth - G-BLUZ - Unknown   North American AT-6D Harvard - G-DDMV - Unknown   Hawker Hurricane IIb - G-HHII - Hangar 11 Collection - United Kingdom
 
De Havilland Vampire T11 - G-VTII - Vampire Preservation Group - United Kingdom
 
United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Fieseler Storch Fi-156 - G-STCH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Fieseler Storch Fi-156 - G-STCH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Hawker Hind - G-AENP - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom
 
United States - Privately Owned - United States   Supermarine Spitfire TR Mk IXc - G-LFIX - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Waco UPF-7 - G-UPFS - Privately owned   North American P-51D-30NT Mustang - G-MSTG - Hardwick Warbirds - United Kingdom
 

Sywell Air Show

The air show covered the history of aviation from the First World War to the jet age. The Great War Display Team provided a fine set piece with their collection of First World War replica aircraft. A pair of Junkers CL1 ground attack aircraft with Fokker DR1 top cover fighters were later attacked by a Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A and a Nieuport 17. The enemy attack aircraft were seen off with smoke streaming from the stricken aircraft.

One of the “stars” of the show was the genuine Argus powered Fiesler Storch operated by Peter Holloway (his Miles Falcon later displayed). Having undertaken a lengthy rebuild at the Shuttleworth Trust at Old Warden, the Storch flew for the first time on March 11th 2009. The Fiesler Storch was used extensively by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War and is best remembered for the audacious rescue of Benito Mussolini, the Italian Dictator held in captivity, by German Special Forces from a mountain retreat in Northern Italy in September, 1943.

Two famous Hawker Aircraft Company designs of the inter-war years were displayed in the form of the Shuttleworth Trust’s Hawker Hind and the Hawker Nimrod resplendent in 802 Naval Air Squadron markings. The latter being a fine example of the restoration work carried out by Guy Black’s Retrotech Company.

Also representing the inter-war years was the Avro Anson and Douglas Dakota of the Air Atlantique Classic Flight. The Avro Anson celebrates its 75th anniversary of the first flight during 1935.

No show of this nature would be complete without a Spitfire and P-51D Mustang. Carolyn Grace displayed her superb Spitfire in a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and later Dave Evans put P-51D ‘Janie’ through her paces. The Battle of Britain Lancaster made a spectacular sight curving around the crowd-line.

The Vampire T11 of the Vampire Preservation Group made history by landing on the newly constructed runway – the first time a Vampire had landed at Sywell for over 50 years.

The “star” of the show; the Avro Vulcan, was unable to attend because of poor weather on the South Coast. This also prevented the Red Arrows from attending.

In addition to the above military displays were several civil aircraft demonstrations, from wing walkers to an air race; an aerial football match to mad antics in a helicopter and much more to satisfy all the family. Superb entertainment – what will 2012 bring?

Hawker Hind - G-AENP - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom
 
Miles Falcon - G-AEEG - Privately owned   Percival Mew Gull - G-AEXF - UK privatelu owned   Stearman - N4712V - USA - privately owned   North American P-51D-30NT Mustang - G-MSTG - Hardwick Warbirds - United Kingdom
 
North American AT-6D Harvard - G-ELMH - Unknown   Hawker Nimrod II - G-BURZ - Historic Aircraft Collection - United Kingdom   Hawker Hind - G-AENP - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom   Hawker Hind - G-AENP - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom
 
Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom
 
Hawker Nimrod II - G-BURZ - Historic Aircraft Collection - United Kingdom   Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom   Avro Anson - G-VROE - Air Atlantique Classic Flight - United Kingdom   Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
Rearwin Cloudster - G-EVLE - Privately owned   De Havilland Vampire T11 - G-VTII - Vampire Preservation Group - United Kingdom   Aeronca 100 - G-AEVS - Privately owned   Hughes 500 - G-BRTL - Privately owned
 
Fieseler Storch Fi-156 - G-STCH - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 

This was the authors first ever visit to Sywell Aerodrome and the immediate impression was of the pre-war atmosphere that pervaded the place. However, the facilities are modern but a great deal of care has been taken not to spoil the charm of the airfield. The hotel is designed in art deco style and though there is now a modern runway constructed, this is not obvious when you first set foot on the airfield.

The air show was pure entertainment for all the family with a highly informative and amusing commentary throughout. A Great War dog fight; glider aerobatics; an air race; warbirds and jets – there was something for everyone.

The day was a great success for the organisers with almost double the anticipated crowd in attendance.

In the British tradition of fund raising events, this year’s Sywell Charity Air Show was highly successful and raised a significant amount of money for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service. Full credit to all concerned.

The author wishes to thank Damien Burke for his kind assistance during the preperation of thiis article.

 
Touchdown Rating - 4 out of 5
 
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