Airshow Review: First visit to Old Warden

With the European summer quickly drawing to an end, I wanted to try and get one more airshow in before the close of the season.  I'd heard some great things about Old Warden, the venue for regular displays and events featuring aircraft from The Shuttleworth Collection, so with a ticket for the September 'Wings & Wheels' event I packed up the camera bag and headed out to the Bedfordshire countryside.

First impressions heading through the gates on a Sunday morning and passing the 'big house' were of simpler times, RIAT this ain't!  I parked up a few rows from the front which in turn was only about 20 metres from the fence to the airfield.  Seeing some of The Collection's aircraft parked just the other side of the fence, polished and shining in the morning sunshine kicked off the 'little kid' excitement within me that lasted for most of the day.

With a good few hours before the flying display was due to start and some nice light I decided to pay an extra £10 for a 45 minute escorted tour of the flight line.  It was great to be air-side and able to get up close for some nice wide-angle perspectives.  I was using the sharp but light Nikon 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 G lens on the D750 body which produced some nice results.

After a fascinating wander around the hangars filled with aircraft from the early days of flight through to WW2, it was time for the vehicle parade to begin.  The Collection houses an impressive range of cars, bike and agricultural vehicles from the turn of the century to the 1940's.  Although impressive looking, the most incredible aspect of the museum is that the vehicles are all still maintained to be run which must be a massive undertaking both from a time and money perspective.

Despite ridiculous new CAA regulations imposed on the venue earlier in the year, Old Warden has since been granted special dispensation and the display line has once again been amended to allow for a better experience.  The pilots seemed to able to show off their machines at a reasonably close distance and although I cannot compare to previous years I was very happy with what I saw.  Good views of all the aircraft and a few topsides thrown in for the photographers among us!

For the display I was using the crop sensor body Nikon D500 paired with the Tamron 150-600 f/5-6.3. However as the afternoon went on the skies became darker and sunlight was in short supply.  As I was shooting propeller aircraft I was using lower shutter speeds (compared to jets) to achieve some motion blur in the propellers.  As a result I didn't have to go too crazy with the ISO however the D500 is reputed to perform pretty well for a DX camera.  Although the skies were mainly grey there were some interesting cloud textures to use as a background so I tried to make the most of what was available.  These are some of the images I captured of the air display, some of which I think work quite well with a 'moody' feel to them.

All in all it was a most enjoyable afternoon.  The flying was very good, the period machines made a nice change from high-speed jets and the whole vibe was very relaxed and civilised.  The only 'Let-down Larry' of the day was the weather however hopefully on my return to one of the 2017 shows I will have a bit more luck.  I may even persuade my airshow-hating partner to join me! :-)