On the 9 May, 11 members landed at Shuttleworth for a guided tour of the aircraft and cars etc of this historic collection. The weather was sunny and hot after the long cold wet winter, but we were mostly undercover.
The collection was started by Richard Shuttleworth, who as a young man, became interested in all things mechanical starting with cars which he restored and rebuilt before he raced them. He then graduated to aircraft. He had a career as a motor racing driver and actually won the first Grand Prix which was held at Donnington Park in 1935. He followed this by learning to fly the machines he bought and restored and then racing some of them. Unfortunately he was killed during WW2 in a night training accident.
Several of the aircraft in the exhibition are the actual aircraft he restored and rebuilt – and some of these were really of the ‘strut and wire’ vintage. He also collected WW1 vintage aircraft which again he restored and some of which are very rare examples, if not the only surviving planes. All but one of the exhibits is capable of flying and often does so.
Following his death his mother continued and added to the collection which now includes a Spitfire, a sea Hurricane and a Lysander which may very well have flown from Tempsford on SOE missions to occupied Europe. Included in the collection are various engines and associated items. To give a balanced exhibition there are a few German aircraft, some American and even a Russian fighter which had been flow by fearless women pilots who, we were told, would lean out of the aircraft to drop hand grenades when they ran out of amunition.
After lunch taken in the on-site cafe we were joined by more Fellowship members for a guided tour of the Swiss garden.
Photographs from our visit can be seen on the Fellowship website at:
Richard Lee and Harold Thompson