Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Annual Quiz 2013

Tuesday 10th December was another evening on the group's social calendar when we held our annual quiz.
As has become customary, the previous year's winner organises the following year's quiz, so it was down to me.
Wanting to try something different I elected to split the images into two groups, Art and Photography and tried to keep to a theme of WWII and earlier: some of our older members are not so much into the modern aviation scene and this would even the playing field. Or did it?

The results were as follows:

First:                   Andy Binks (97 points)
Joint Second:    Dave Smith and Chris Heath (87 points)
Third:                  Nick Marsh  (82.5 points)

One of our oldest members, Gordon Charlton came a very commendable fourth with a score of 73 points. In the early years of the group Gordon has won the coveted trophy on many occasions.

The prizes this year were 

  • a Corgi model of the Gloster Gladiator in Luftwaffe markings (special edition for the Corgi Collectors Club), which Andy took home, 
  • a recent and well received book on the history of the De Havilland Comet, which went to Chris, 
  • a Skymax model of the Hawker Tempest V, which went to Dave and 
  • finally a rather splendid Hobby Master model of the Bell P-39 Aeracobra, which went to Nick.

The trophy for the Quiz (and the one for the Photographic Competition) will be presented by our Chairman, Barry Jones, to the winners on Tuesday 17th December 2013 in The Rugby Hotel during the group's annual Christmas dinner.

The quiz had been about props and pistons and to round off the evening we had a quick look at images of some of the early jets that formed the foundation of what was to come during the second half of the 20th century.

It was a great pleasure to organise the quiz and to see such a good turn out, but to top it all the greatest pleasure came from seeing how much everyone enjoyed the evening. Success.

I am now looking forward to what Andy Binks will put together for the 2014 quiz. Good luck with that, Andy.

Theo Claassen

P.S. All done and dusted and about to close the evening, member and friend Roger Higgerson walked in to share some time with the rest us.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Annual Photographic Competition 2013

On Tuesday 12 November 2013, the Annual Photographic Competition took place.

There were 23 entries to be judged by those present and the images were all of very good quality and and covered quite a range of subjects.

Many of the pictures received votes and in the end it was a close run thing, so close that 2nd and 3rd place became shared 2nd place.

This year the first prize went to Andy Binks with an Aeronautica Militare Italiana Lockheed F-104S Starfighter taking off from Fairford.

Second prizes went to Dave Millard with a close-up of a De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth taxiing at Sywell

and Theo Claassen with a close-up of Maurice Hammond's North American P-51D Mustang "Marinell" taking off for his display at Cosby on 8 September 2013.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

Sunday 10th November
After attending the Remembrance Service at Dunchurch, a few of the RAG members made their way to the Heath to place a poppy wreath at the memorial stone in memory of the five young airman who lost their lives when their Halifax bomber crashed in the parish of Dunchurch in October 1944.

David George



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The last RAF VC10 arrives at Bruntingthorpe

Wednesday 25 September 2013, Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Leicestershire

The airfield at Bruntingthorpe is owned by C. Walton Limited and its managing director David Walton has been an avid collector of significant "working" aircraft designed and built in Britain.

On this day, David had opened the gates to the airfield, free of charge, to anyone wishing to witness the arrival of the final RAF VC10 . A public area had been set out with excellent views over the runway and the approach as well as the pan where the aircraft, a K3 variant registered ZA147, was to be parked upon arrival.

Delegates of the Rugby Aviation Group 
from left to right Barry Jones, Jack Bliss and David George

ZA147 finally arrived through the murk just after 15:45, it had been a long wait for most, but then there is plenty to see and plenty of people to speak with at Bruntingthorpe. There were plenty of enthusiasts, photographers and other VC10 aficionados, one even having registered his new car in an appropriate way. 

The first attempt to get to the airfield resulted in an approach to "something" some three miles north of Bruntingthorpe and the aircraft could be observed descending and almost disappearing behind the tree line, when the pilot must have realised he was not approaching a runway. He opened the throttles on all four Conways and ZA147 roared off towards Lutterworth and around the airfield.

The second attempt was not good either and some serious corrections were needed to line up with the runway for the first overshoot as exemplified by the photographs below.

The final approach was near perfect and the tyre screech and smoke brought a tear to many an eye or at least a seriously big lump in the throat.

This variant of the VC10 were specifically designed for hot and high conditions and their landing performance on shorter runways was remarkable, as exemplified in her final landing. Stopped well before the mid-point of the long runway.

The final taxi to the pan where VC10 XR808 was awaiting the arrival of ZA147 took the aircraft passed its "fallen" comrades, which were in the process of being dismantled and scrapped.

The picture above shows ZA147 turning off the taxiway and on to the pan to meet the welcoming committee, thus concluding another era in the history of the RAF and the British Aviation industry.

That now leaves Avro 698 Vulcan B2 XH558 as the sole flying four-engined British jet aircraft and the news last week that the funding to keep her flying for another two years has been put up by its supporters, both private and industrial, comes as no surprise. 

And finally......on Sunday 17 November 2013, Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets is reported to be hosting a photoshoot when most of its aircraft will be lined up on the runway. The entry fee for this event is the normal museum admission (£5). A great bonus at the end of a wonderful display season.

Theo Claassen
6 November 2013

Christmas Dinner 2013

Christmas Dinner 2013

Tuesday 17 December 2013

19:00 for 19:30

The Rugby Hotel


Jerusalem artichoke & roasted garlic soup
Smoked salmon terrine
Pork & sage terrine with apple chutney
Roast Norfolk turkey, pork & chestnut stuffing, chipolata and cranberry jus
Pan-roasted salmon with watercress & potato puree and lobster bisque sauce
Roast pumpkin ravioli with a sage butter sauce
Christmas pudding with brandy sauce
Strawberry cheesecake with strawberry coulis
Chocolate tart with vanilla chantilly
Coffee & mince pies

£10.00 for members - £19.95 for non-members

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

An autumn Saturday afternoon

The last weekend of October '13 was slated for the clocks going back by one hour and a visit to Norfolk to see a couple of dear friends.

Saturday, after a drive from the Midlands to one of my friends' farm near Old Stratton and a lovely lunch, my friend John and I set off to see Rugby Aviation Group member Gary Reid, who lives not far from John's farm and who has been building a Steen Skybolt in his garage over a number of years (he tells me 10 so far). Below is a picture of a Skybolt and what Gary's might look like after completion in what he hopes will be three years.
Steen Skybolt
We had an hour with Gary and it was surprising for me to hear how many people they had in common amongst friends and acquaintances. A nice introduction for my friend John,  who was impressed with the quality of workmanship and the tea and cake served by Gary's wife Sara.

From here we went to the airfield at Old Buckenham to see someone John knows, but unfortunately this chap had left the airfield just prior to us arriving. So off we went in the direction of another WWII airfield, Tibenham, near to which is Priory Farm, a small airstrip with some hangars and the home of Boeing Stearman restoration specialists Black Barn Aviation.
 It was in their restoration sheds that Martin Shaw's Stearman was rebuilt originally and after his ding illustrated by the picture below.
Martin Shaw surveys the damage of his beloved Stearman

John and I visited one of the hangars, which contained a Stinson Sentinel, the only one on the UK register as well as two beautiful Stearman biplanes, one belonging to Black Barn Aviation's Paul Bennett and the other to a private owner. As with Gary's Skybolt, the quality of workmanship on these American trainers was fantastic. Paul's partner in Black Barn Aviation, Bob Sage explained some of the difficulties in sourcing the right components for the restorations and where they can be found to cost of bringing components into the UK, i.e. shipping an important duties.

Sunday morning the weather was lovely, thought a bit breezy so we wandered around the charming city of Norwich, before meeting up with friend and ex-colleague Alan and his lovely wife Lorna for lunch in the Rare Grill. Whilst waiting for them to arrive we sat in the reception area of the hotel the restaurant is part of (George House Hotel) and spotted Napoleon Solo (The man from U.N.C.L.E.), the actor Robert Vaughn. He is now a frail looking 81-year old, but easily recognisable.
After a lovely lunch, a fond farewell and an uneventful drive back to the Midlands, we arrived home before the storm (that never came).

Theo Claassen
28 October 2013

Annual joint meeting with the Midland Air Museum

For this year's joint meeting, which took place on Tuesday 22 November 2013,  we were very lucky in being able to attract a great speaker, Rod Dean, who has been in the aviation industry for the best part of 40 years.

Rod retired from display flying in the latter part of 2012 and is now restricted to flying aircraft of less then 2000 kg AUW under his NPPL. In his own words “Old age and sin have finally caught up with me and unfortunately the march of time cannot be ignored,”

During that long career he flew Hawker Hunters and SEPECAT Jaguars during his career in the RAF and was the Hunter display pilot in the early seventies. He also flew aircraft such as the Spitfire, Seafire and Skyraider for organisations like Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, Kennet Aviation at North Weald and Rolls Royce. He also instructed on the North American Harvard and the Scottish Aviation Bulldog.

His lecture was light-hearted, yet factual, informative and well illustrated with some fascinating photographs and it covered his flying career in the RAF, especially the Hawker Hunter, from, amongst others Chivenor in the UK and Aden in the Middle East.
There was never a dull moment and those present were enthralled throughout the evening, which took off shortly after 19:30, made a refuelling stop at around 20:40 and turned finals shortly after 22:15. This was the longest lecture we have enjoyed to date, beating our previous longest lecture, by Eric "Winkle" Brown.

I recall seeing Rod display a then recently restored Hunter F6 at the Classic Fighter Show at Cranfield. This show was organised by an acquaintance of mine, Mark Hanna and was normally staged at Duxford, but due to some runway repairs was moved for this year only to Cranfield. That allowed locally based Lightning T5 XS458 owned by Russell Carpenter ( to take part also and what a bonus that was. When Rod arrived at the airfield and had disembarked from the Hunter I spent about 15 minutes in his company talking about the aircraft and display flying in general. 

As those that were present at this lecture will have experienced, Rod is a charming, very approachable and engaging chap and his lecture, gauging by the round of applause at the end was a great success, so a big thanks to Rod, who said he would love to come back and do another lecture in the future.

Thanks go to Chris Heath of the Rugby Aviation Group for organising the lecture and to Barry James and the Midland Aviation Museum for hosting the event.

Rod Dean

Theo Claassen
Hon Treasurer Rugby Aviation Group
Rugby, 29 October 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Rod Dean photos

Photos of Rod Dean, reunited with his Hunter F6  XF382 from his R.A.F. display years. With the help of Barry James and Gordon Talbot of the Midland Air Museum, prior to our evenings talk.

Barry Jones

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Welcome to our Blog

In order for our members to easily share Aviation information and anecdotes, we have set up this blog.
If you would like to share please contact David George who will let you have the relevant access information.