Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Annual Photgraphic Competition 2014

On Tuesday 11 November 2014 the Rugby Aviation Group held its annual photographic competition in which members can showcase their photographic efforts in the hope of winning one of the prizes and the accompanying trophy for the best entry.
Everyone gets a vote for a single picture and this year there were many votes as there were many pictures to choose from.
The result of the vote was:

First Prize: Gnats Display Team at Waddington International Air Show 2014 
by  Theo Claassen

Second Prize: The Grace Spitfire taking-off from Cosby at the Victory Show 2014   
by  Theo Claassen

Third Prize: Putting a Tiger into the Tiger's Tank at Woburn 2014 by Dave Millard

As has become the norm in the last few years, the trophy will be presented at this year's Annual Christmas ~Dinner on Tuesday 16 December 2014.

19 November 2014
Theo Claassen

Remembrance Sunday - 9 November 2014

This year Remembrance Sunday was on 9 November and the Rugby Aviation Group's Dunchurch Memorial for the crew of the Halifax, that crashed outside of the village on 14 October 1944, took centre stage for a brief gathering. The laying of a wreath and the placement of five crosses to honour the five crew member that perished that day back in 1944 had a special poignancy on the 70th anniversary of that event, just a couple of weeks earlier.

The Rugby Aviation Group party, consisting of Barry Jones (chairman), Roger and Janet Higgerson, Jack Bliss and your author, joined the local Remembrance Service in the village centre. Following the service we moved on to the memorial to lay and secure the wreath and place the five crosses.

"We will remember them"

The Halifax Memorial with wreath and five crosses honouring the fallen crew
A brief moment of remembrance for the Halifax crew that perished at Dunchurch on 14 October 1944
The Rugby Aviation Group representatives at the Halifax Memorial in Dunchurch

19 November 2014
Theo Claassen

Shackleton Preservation Trust - Engine Run

On Saturday 27 September a small group of Rugby Aviation Group members, Norman, Ray, Nick and your author had the distinct pleasure of being in the Shackleton Preservation Trust (SPT) MR2 WR693 at Coventry Airport during the engine runs.

There was also ample opportunity to look around inside Air Base with a handful of aircraft in the hangar and view the last remaining DC-6 (G-APSA) and a couple of Dakotas.

Avro 696 Shackleton MR2 WR693 being prepared for its engine run
Captain's position

Co-pilot position
The intention of the Trust is to get WR693 into flying condition and get as single flight permit to position her to southern England towards the end of 2015 for restoration to flight. It is an ambitious plan, but every plan has to have a strong element of ambition in order to succeed.

The interior of the aircraft is good condition requiring little to enable flight.

Experiencing an engine run from the inside was quite something and certainly not as noisy as expected even after 25 minutes. The fact that one can move around to different positions is a bonus as every position has its own unique vantage point, be it the aircraft interior, the flight deck or the various crew positions. The nose section is of course particularly interesting with its large gunner position on top and the bomb aimer position at the bottom.
The tail section, although accessible, was not visited during the engine, however,it is a target, at least for the author, for the next occasion.
RAG members Norman Powell, Ray Ball and Nick Marsh (looking the other way)
Selfie with Ray in the background
Norman listening to the radio chatter
View from the nose gunner position

Cessna T310 N302MC visiting from Tatenhill Airfield in Staffordshire

DC-6 Diner

As evidenced by some of the photographs above the aircraft of the Air Base collection based at Coventry Airport were accessible too and the Nimrod performed an engine run too. On the last photograph the engine intake mesh covers can be seen as the four Avons are run up.

And finally, £30 for a 25 minute engine run amongst all those rivets and something like 40 minutes on board, is a very worthwhile experience and it helps the Trust to build funds for the restoration of the aircraft to flying condition. I for one will be part-taking again in the New Year.

As a bonus, but Nick and I did not stay to see this, The old lady was taxied to try out her brakes and other items that cannot be tested whilst static. Look on YouTube for some good video footage.

With thanks to Dave Woods and his team for making us feel so welcome on the day.

15 November 2014
Theo Claassen

Bruntingthorpe - Lightning Preservation Group Twilight Run

So, for the second part of Saturday 1 November 2014, Nick Marsh and I drove up to Bruntingthorpe from Wellesbourne, after a spot of lunch for the Lightning Preservation Group's LPG) last main event for 2014, their Twilight Run. We met up with our friend from up north, Andy Hellen, with whom we have spent several hours over the last 4 months.

Today there are several organisation with running aircraft that raise funds by performing engine runs in the twilight or evening hours with or without with artificial lighting to bring out features of the aircraft in running mode that are not or not as apparent during normal daylight hours.

As those members of the aviation group will member from the October talk by Richard Norris of the LPG, the group have secured another Lightning, XR713, an F3, from RAF Leuchars and are raising funds to dismantle it (properly) and transport if back to Bruntingthorpe. This aircraft will not be restored to running condition, but is worth restoring to static condition as the number of F3 variants left in existence in the UK can be counted on one hand....even minus the thumb!

I will let the pictures do the talking, just notice that in the five engine running shots, the aircraft is "chocked" and having the afterburner selected for one engine only. That is to stop the aircraft from surging forward and jumping the chocks under the enormous power of the Avons.

XR728's bottom Avon running at full bore
As the throttle is retarded look at the glow inside that tailpipe, which only last for a couple of seconds
Here the top Avon's reheat is engaged and the throttle being advance to full power
And here is the top engine running at full throttle.
Again the after glow in the tailpipe
Returning from the fast taxi run down Bruntingthorpe's 2 mile runway, flaps down and airbrakes out
Dennis Brooks about to stop XR728 in front of the gathered crowd
 The event started with the opening of the gates at Bruntingthorpe at 2pm and the actual engine runs and fast taxi not until 16:50 with plenty of time in between to see both Lightnings parked in the QRA shed and then outside. Both regular pilots were present, Dennis Brooks, who performed the engine run and fast taxi in XR728 and John Ward were on hand to answer questions. The shop did a good trade and Chris Norris "rattled" the collection tin for the XR713 dismantling and transport fund after his normal safety briefing.

As we have come to expect from the LPG, they run these events in a very professional manner, but unfortunately not all attendees appreciated his safety advice as they had wondered off to places where they should not have been. 

The weather had been perfect, especially for the first day of November, with plenty of sunshine and a lovely setting sun when it mattered most. For those of the RAG members, who were at the Annual Photographic Competition on 11 November, Nick's picture of one of the Lightnings outside the QRA shed with the setting sun reflected on its side exemplified what can be achieved on events like this.

For next year keep an eye on the LPG programme of events on their website:

14 November 2014
Theo Claassen

A visit to Vulcan XM655 at Wellesbourne

Saturday 1 November 2014 would be an aviation day to remember with two visits, the first and subject to this blog to Avro Vulcan B2 XM655 and her dedicated team of volunteers, the second 40 something miles to the north at Bruntingthorpe to see the two Lightning Preservation Group F6s in the twilight. Nick Marsh and I arrived at Wellesbourne just before 09:30 and were met by the VTTSC organiser of the visit, Lee Broadbent.

MaPS, the organisation looking after this lovely looking Vulcan, are doing a splendid job maintaining a V-bomber is running order. There were plenty of volunteers on hand to show us around. We were grouped into fours and assigned to a volunteer, who would tells us about the aircraft, its history, the work being carried out on her etc.

With the threat of the sale of Wellesbourne airfield for housing development the future of XM655 looks bleak, however MaPS are not taking this lying down, they have joined the campaign to save the airfield as a general aviation site, with its museum, its flying training school and flying club and one of the three "live" Vulcans, albeit two of which not flying. All visitors were asked to join the campaign, which we all did if only to save this Vulcan. 

Below are some of the images of the tour.

XM655 looks very good with the sunlight reflecting from many of her surfaces

The squadrons this lovely Vulcan has served in her career

Quite unique amongst the "running/flying" Vulcans, a rack full of (dummy) bombs

Here the same rack of dummy bombs seen from the rear of the bomb bay

The in-cockpit talk by Mike Pullit was informative, but trying to squeeze into the captain's seat was a challenge
Our thanks go the Graham and his team of volunteers for the hospitality and to Roger, our guide for the tour. The next visit has already been planned fro which undoubtedly this author will return.

16 November 2014
Theo Clasassen

Monday, 29 September 2014

Three Lancasters at East Kirkby

Due to engine problems suffered at Teesside-Durham Airport by the Canadian Lancaster the East Kirkby events had to be moved to a later date and thanks to friend Andy Hellen I acquired two tickets to go over with colleague and fellow RAG member Nick Marsh.

Model towing the UK and Canadian flags
This was the day, Sunday 14 September 2014 when three Lancaster would meet for a second time during the Canadian Lancaster's Tour of the UK at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby west of Skegness.

Although not a cold day it was grey and overcast and as a consequence photography was not optimum, but one takes what one can and makes the most of it. Here then an impression of the event in pictures.

The flying display was opened by a large scale model towing both the Union Jack and the Canadian flag, followed by a superb model of the Handley Page HP-42 airliner of the late NineteenTwenties. Looking at the picture one could almost imagine oneself at Croydon Airport in 1929 or thereabouts.

Handley Page HP-42 Large Scale Model
Handley Page HP-42 Large Scale Model
Handley Page HP-42 Large Scale Model

Two veterans posed in front of NX611 for the photographers and had earlier in the day told their stories.

Avro Lancaster NX611 "Just Jane" taxiing around the airfield with "fare paying" VIP passengers

"Just Jane" positioning herself for the flypast of her two sisters

Sisters VeRA and Thumper arrive over East Kirkby Airfield

Three Lancasters and twelve Merlins singing on tune
Another pass with Thumper leading VeRA as has been the case throughout the Tour
The final pass resulted in this lovely "separation", could hardly call it a bomb burst.

And then Jane was "Just Jane" again with her sisters having gone back to RAF Coningsby
Perhaps never to be repeated again, this was a very emotional event, one that surpassed all others where only VeRA ands Thumper had flown together, even when in formation with Vulcan XH558 the previous month.

In the future, as and when NX611 takes to the air again and Shackleton WR693 becomes a "renewed" air show act can we expect to see three Avro piston-engined bombers flying together again. Until then, the memories of the Lancaster Bomber Tour 2014 will have to suffice

28 September 2014
Theo Claassen

Highlights from The Victory Show at Cosby

On Sunday 7 September 2014 the weather approved compared to the previous day so I to make my annual visit to The Victory Show at Cosby.

The show is a mixture of military vehicles, dioramas and set battle pieces with a small airshow thrown in in the afternoon. Unfortunately the flying display on the previous day was marred by low cloud, whereas the Sunday was a glorious summer's day. As frequent visitors to the air display know the crowd line is close to the runway and photography opportunities are usually plentiful. This year was a bit disappointing as it was a limited for getting a clear shot across the temporary runway. The first reason was that the wind was coming from a northerly direction and aircraft were taking off and landing from the south. Standing at the northern end of the runway one was behind a line up of aircraft and my usual spot half way down the runway was inaccessible for most of the day as the Skytrain was parked there. So this year more ground-to-air and less ground-to-ground shots. but the compensating factor was the brilliant sunshine at least when the aircraft were flying towards it. 

The following pictures are more or less in the sequence the aircraft appeared in and as usual I will let them speak for themselves through their captions.
Douglas C-47 ~Skytrain basking in the early morning sun
French built Messerschmitt ME-108 Taifun

Breighton-based Bücker Jungmeister

In previous years some of the aircraft, notably the ME-1087 Taifun would fly over the "battlefield" during the morning tank battle. This year the display by the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight's North American TB-25N Mitchell, followed the very same pattern with only a single pass from north to south, hence photo opportunities for this aircraft, which was based at nearby Bruntingthorpe, were somewhat limited, especially as it displayed in the morning with the sun directly into the camera lens. But the display itself was brilliantly executed showing the aircraft's capability to the full. 

Gilze-Rijen-based North American TB-25N Mitchell
Piper L4 Cub

Bücker Bestmann
One of the attractions of the air display at The Victory Show is the contingent of smaller "warbirds", e.g. the Cub, Taifun, Bestmann etc. Even smaller aircraft are displayed, the large scale models, which have their own display slots with some great tail chases by WWI and WWII models. Some of these aircraft are very realistic especially as seen from a small distance. 
Cessna OV-1 Bird Dog
The Grace Spitfire making a low pass

A unique formation display by  Hurricane UP-W and Spitfire OU-V
Hurricane UP-W on short finals
Leah Hammond in T-6D Texan EP-H plotting her route home prior to departure
Maurice Hammond in P-51D Mustang "Janie"
Peter Teichman in P-51D Mustang "Jumping Jacques"
This year there were a few gas in the flying display, which were filled by the large scale models and unfortunately the C-47 Skytrain, having made a single pass, had to retire to Bruntingthorpe, where it made an emergency landing with problems on one of its engines.

The air show was concluded by "Jumping Jacques" flown by Peter Teichman with a what felt like a long flying display making it a fitting end to The Victory Show 2014.

26 September 2014
Theo Claassen