Insights into the running of Old Warden airshows

Following his recent retirement, Bob Barton reflects on the challenges and triumphs of arranging airshows at Old Warden, home of the Shuttleworth Collection

In 2011, I was lucky enough to be given the job of organising the Shuttleworth Collection’s flying displays at Old Warden, Bedfordshire. I soon found that putting on shows at this atmospheric location presented unique challenges. Not only did you have to put together flying programmes that would sell tickets, but you also had to accommodate the requirements of the chief pilot and chief engineer. Plus, you were organising not just one show but ten or 11 each ‘season’.

In basic terms, organising an airshow involves booking appropriate aircraft within a fixed budget and then arranging the flying programme in as attractive a way as possible. Where Shuttleworth differs from this model is that the Collection owns approximately 50 airworthy vintage aircraft, so to a degree the content is dictated by needing to utilise these aircraft as much as possible.

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