Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Sywell Aviation Museum Opening for 2014 Season


On Easter Saturday, 19 April 2014, the Sywell Aviation Museum re-opened its doors for the 2014 season with a special event attended and supported by a variety of people and organisations.

From the Rugby Aviation Group, apart from the author, David Smith and Chris Heath were in attendance for most of the day. We had hoped for warm sunny weather, if previous days had been anything to go by. But, despite it remaining dry, there was a cold and stiff north-easterly breeze blowing.

Peter Teichman displays Hurricane BE505
The first event of the day was the arrival of Peter Teichman in his Hawker Hurricane IIB BE505, which flies in the colours of RAF 174 Squadron and who flew in from his Hangar 11 operation at North Weald. On arrival the assembled crowd was treated to Peter's expertly executed display, showing the aircraft from all angles. Peter has close links with Sywell and the museum, but more about that later.
Peter Teichman posing for the cameras in front of BE505
Following the landing there was a brief photo opportunity when the sun was out, as exemplified by the picture to the right, which was accompanied by rapturous applause from the crowd.
Andy Shemans addresses the gathered crowd
The formal part of the opening ceremony was presided over by Andy Shemans, chairman of the museum, who explained that the theme for this year was centred around EFTS6, which was based locally during the Second World War to train, amongst others, the Free French.
The unveiling of the memorial
A few years ago the museum created a memorial to those that served and were killed defending this nation. That memorial, shown on the left covered by an RAF ensign, was later unveiled by two ladies, one English, one French and blessed. That was followed by the laying of two wreaths, one on behalf of the museum, the other on behalf of the aerodrome.
The laying of the wreaths
Then there was an address by a veteran squadron leader who spoke those well-known words "...we will remember them". There was a bugler and the sound of "The Last Post" prior to a two-minute silence and "Reveille" to end the silence.
Romer Adams accepts the presented cap on behalf of the museum
What followed next was a brief story, told by Romer Adams, of an incident that took place near Daventry during the recovery of some B-17's following a raid on Germany, where two of the returning aircraft hit aerials, the first aircraft making it safely back to Shelveston, the second sadly crashing, killing its crew. The latter hit the G aerial knocking out the G navigation system in the whole of the UK for fifteen minutes.
In the above picture Romer is holding the cap of one of the crewmembers that perished in the crash and which was presented to the museum by the son of the man who found it on the crash site, just hours after the fateful event. The cap was placed in a specially built glass display case that is now on show inside the museum.
Andy presents Peter with his certificate
The official morning's proceedings were brought to an end by Andy Shemans, who made a presentation to Peter Teichman. The first part of the presentation was a gift to complete Peter's Spitfire consisting of a box  containing some 20mm cannon shells. But it was the second part that was the real objective, which was to present Peter with a certificate of honorary membership of the Sywell Aviation Museum, something he evidently appreciated very much.

In his final address Andy thanked all those that had helped to make the day possible and declared the museum officially open for the 2014 season.

The locally based Great War Aircraft Display Team performed a practice display and below are some images from that practice. Conditions were marginal  as it was rather blustery.
Matthew Boddington taxies out in his Be-2C
An SE-5A and a Sopwith Triplane "fight it out" with a Fokker DR1 Dreidecker
A rather lovely Sopwith Triplane replica
And finally....others supporting the day's proceedings where a WWII military vehicle association and a "visiting" Hunter cockpit section.
A GMC truck with an anti-aircraft gun
The visiting Hawker Hunter cockpit section
The formal part of the morning was well put together and tastefully executed, a credit to the museum that is well worth a visit.

Theo Claassen
20 April 2014

Friday, 18 April 2014

An evening with Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown

The last of the Sywell Aviation Museum's winter talks was held at the Aviator Hotel on Wednesday 2 April 2014.  The speaker for the evening was the most famous British test pilots of all, Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, who at the tender age of 95, is still as fascinating and entertaining as ever he was.
There was a large audience present that was not disappointed by the two-part lecture Eric delivered in his own precise and detailed style. The stories and anecdotes he related can be found in his books and some of the most interesting included the interview with Hanna Reitsch, the German lady test pilot, who test flew a manned version of the Fieseler V1 "Doodlebug", when in its early development displayed some unwanted flying characteristics. The story of meeting famous WWI fighter ace Ernst Udet was another story that was interesting as was the insight into operating the Me-163 Komet, which clearly is not one of his favourite aircraft.

During the break, Eric's wife sold a selection of his books, which he signed with personal comments, something we have become accustomed to.
When asked what his favourite German aircraft was, the answer was immediate, the Focke Wulf FW-190D in which Eric spent several hours of test flying to establish its characteristics.
Asked what is all-time favourite was again the answer came without hesitation, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk9.

It is probably fair to say that Eric is the last of an exceptional group of aviators in the world that lived through a period when aircraft development, especially for military purposes, happened at such a rate that they had the opportunity to experience a wide and extensive range of aircraft that their modern day equivalents can only dream of.
An evening to remember and treasure and thanks to Andy Shemans and his team at the Sywell Aviation Museum for making this happen.
The museum is re-opening its doors for the 2014 season on Easter Saturday, 19 April, so go along and see what is on show on the day. Peter Teichmann is due to fly in with his Spitfire and there may be some others too.

Theo Claassen
10 April 2014