Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cold War Jets Open Day 2 2014

Typical Bruntingthorpe Line-up
Sunday 24 August 2014 saw the second of two open days in the annual airshow calendar at the Cold War Jets Museum at Bruntingthorpe.
This show did not attract the same amount of visiting aircraft compared to the May event, but one notable "participant" was Neil McCarthy in the lovely Jet Provost T3 XM479. He arrived with a flyby and at the end of the afternoon performed another low flypast before returning home to Newcastle Airport.

As with previous blogs, I will let the pictures do the talking.

Visiting Aircraft

Auster AOP 7 YR297
Jet Provost T3 XM479 (G-BVEZ), flown by Neil McCarthy


The show was opened by three large scale flying models that looked very realistic indeed.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558
Vickers VC-10  ZA147

English Electric Lightning F6 XS935
Blackburn Buccaneer S2B XW544
Blackburn Buccaneer S2B XX900

Blackburn Buccaneer S2B XX894

Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2 XV226

Aero L-29 Delphin, piloted by Graham Smith, which will appear in Russian colours next year

English Electric Canberra WT333
Boeing 737 departing for the US via Shannon

Handley Page Victor K2 XM715

English Electric Lightning F6 XS904 with Dennis Brooks at the controls
English Electric Lightning F6 XR728 being piloted by John Ward

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire PR19 PS915 and Hawker Hurricane IIc PZ865

English Electric Lightning F6 XR728 in full afterburner

Vickers VC-10 ZD241 with Andy "Tonks" Townshend at the controls

Vickers VC-10  ZA147 meets its bigger brother ZD241

Jet Provost T3 XM479 (G-BVEZ), flown by Neil McCarthy, making its final pass on its way home

Following the VC-10 fast taxi, which was once again carried by Andy "Tonks" Townsend, our October speaker, Neil McCarthy departed and the Sea Vixen that had been parked on the flightline was towed onto the runway to perform an engine run.
De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2 XJ494

Unfortunately the two attempts made resulted in the Avons what sounded like cutting out when the throttles were advanced beyond idle, a disappointing end for the team, who hope to have the aircraft ready to display next year alongside another new kid on the block a single-seat Royal Navy Hawker Hunter.   
A big thanks to Dave Walton, the organisers, Geoffrey Pool (the commentator) and all participating teams for yet another successful Cold War Jets Open Day.

28 August 2014
Theo Claassen

RAF Waddington - Thursday 21 August 2014

The arrival in the UK of thew Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Liberty Lancaster B10 on Friday 8 August 2014, sparked a "frenzy" amongst aviation enthusiasts and veterans alike, to find an event and venue to see the aircraft and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster B1 together. Airshows were sold out weeks beforehand and if one did not have a ticket, the chance of getting close to these two "siblings" was remote.                                                                                            On Sunday 17 August, the pair were due to display at the bi-annual Sywell airshow, this year named the "Great War Airshow", but as reported in an earlier blog, they could not attend due to the strong winds on the day.  A great disappointment to the capacity crowd there to see the two old ladies. The author was told by someone attending that the following Thursday, RAF Waddington would be hosting the pair, as well as Avro Vulcan XH558, for a photo call with the press and the general public, with the latter being able to buy a ticket on the gate only. Having got back home the RAF Waddington website was checked for details and the following day a day's holiday was booked to make the "pilgrimage".

Thursday started with grey overcast skies as the crowd assembled outside the temporary entrance off the A15 Sleaford Road, many cars lining up on the side of the road awaiting the opening of the gate. The area set aside for the enthusiasts to congregate and view the precedings was to the north of the taxiway that leads from the runway to the pan and hangars of the Sentry fleet with a clear view of the runway and for some the taxiway running along the runway on the side of the Thomson Building and the hangars.
Boeing E-3D Sentry taxiing to the runway for an early departure
One of the reason for the gathering, apart from the photo call, was the formation flight of the two Lancaster with the Vulcan over a number of sites, including Metheringham where the turf cutting ceremony for the new Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial was taking place, RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham's Families Day. Over RAF Marham XH558 would climb out of the formation and had for Clacton, where she would display ahead of the two Lancasters.

Two BAe Hawks of No.100 Squadron RAF Leeming arriving over RAF Waddington

BBMF and CWHM Lancasters approaching RAF Waddington

It has been mentioned several times in the media and social media that it had been hard to take a photograph of the aircraft in formation as they fly in line astern, so the only time a close formation image can be recorded it when they approach, as in the image above or when they are flying away from the camera.
BBMF Lancaster first to land......
....and a bit of a wobbly touch down after which both wheels left the ground again.
CWHM Lancaster follows her sister....
.....and makes a perfect landing
Coming along the taxiway with the Thomson Building in the background.
C-GVRA, better known as Vera rolls tom a stop, with tour flags flying from her cockpit windows
PA474 parks up ready for engine shutdown
The Canadian aircrew are welcomed to RAF Waddington
Tim Dunlop, BBMF Lancaster Captain, explaining why the formation could not overfly RAF Waddington.
Two sisters basking in the sun
Thumper starts up to depart and formate with C-GVRA and XH558
C-GVRA starting to roll towards the runway
The first two of three sisters moving onto the runway....
...while the third sister waits to move onto the runway (with the other two now in the background)

The formation as they flew past to the north of RAF Waddington on the way to Metheringham
The formation, as shown in the image above, could not fly over RAF Waddington, as explained by Tim Dunlop, the BBMF Lancaster captain, because the turn from there to Metheringham was too tight for the formation to fly. Tim also mentioned that he will be joining the Voyager squadron at RAF Brize Norton

The Three Sisters Formation and photo ship approaching RAF Coningsby.  (Photo courtesy Andy Hellen)
This was most likely my only opportunity to see the two Lancasters together, but to see it in company with the Vulcan was an extra bonus. All other events where they are to appear are fully booked, however, I might make the journey to RAF Coningsby for departure day on Tuesday 23 September.

And finally....

This event though was well organised by the team at RAF Waddington and although the initial parking of the Lancasters was less then ideal as the Vulcan could not be brought through to join them, but that was sorted out later in the morning. One of the heroes of the day was this RAF Police dog handler who was there for the duration keeping us in check and protecting us (not sure what from as we don't see them at open days).
27 August 2014
Theo Claassen

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sywell Great War Air Show 2014

On Sunday 17 August 2014 the much publicised air show at Sywell Aerodrome took place.
Agusta A-109 G-RSCU of the WNAA

The bi-annual show is in aid of the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) and is always an interesting show with a variety of participants, mainly classic aircraft. There is always the odd exception or surprise be it participants or visiting aircraft.  The main attraction this year was no doubt the highly anticipated participation of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster accompanied by the visiting Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster. For many people present, including a number of WWII Lancaster veterans, this was the main reason they had bought a ticket and the event was a total sell out.

The visiting aircraft park was not as packed as it had been in previous years and that was down to the weather, but a few hardy pilots did make it, including a diesel powered visitor from the Netherlands. Here are some of them.

On the Saturday the Lancasters, accompanied by a Spitfire and a Hurricane, were displaying at Eastbourne and a couple of other venues are were due to stay overnight at the Battle of Britain Station of Biggin Hill, but in anticipation of the high winds expected for Sunday the entire group relocated to RAF Coningsby on Saturday evening. This put their appearance at Sywell and any other venues in doubt. Although the BBMF website confirmed this around lunchtime on Sunday, the announcement at Sywell was made just after 4pm. This caused droves of people to leave the aerodrome and head for home, also because the rain, that started the day between 9 and 10am, made an unwelcome return.

Despite the high winds, which gusted at up to 28mph on occasions, the show went on and even though it meant that some acts, such as the Great War Display Team and the usual Flying Circus had to be cancelled, acts were shuffled around to keep some form of continuity. It was obvious throughout the display that some of the aircraft, their pilots more precisely, clearly struggled, especially the lighter aircraft with less power. There were also some interesting landings by visiting aircraft as illustrated by the two pictures above, but despite the weather condition everything went well and without incident.

Some of the Popham based Great War Display Team members departed for an arduous journey home

The flying part of the day was opened by three large scale model aircraft, a jet, a Sopwith Pup and the only Lancaster flying at Sywell 2014! They were clearly affected by the winds and gusts, but their performances were awe inspiring.

The first  main feature of the flying display was one this author has never witnessed before consisting of a Piper Pawnee 250, ex-crop duster, and a glider. This was the Glider FX Team and the accompanying pictures partially illustrate the glider performing a roll, whilst being towed. After several passes, the combination climbed to around 3000 feet where the glider was released for the pilot to give a master class in energy management, with loops, rolls and stall turns. My companion for the day had seen this class act before and told me beforehand what I could expect. It certainly was awe inspiring.

Midair's Canberra PR9 made a very welcome appearance and much earlier than initially programmed in order to fill the gaps, its capabilities being shown off to excellent effect while locally based Skytech's MH-500 helicopter performed its act of high speed flying, steep turns and picking up  and replacing a traffic cone.

Carolyn Grace flew the Grace Spitfire and as we have become to expect it was an immaculate and flowing sequence of passes, however, because of the wind she appeared to keep the aircraft a bit higher and further away from the crowd line.

Carolyn's son Richard lead the TRIG aerobatic team in their blue and yellow Pitts Specials, a class act, we have seen at Sywell before.

 As an act of remembrance, Leah Hammond flew her Auster AOP for a poppy drop, that despite her very best efforts, was, according to the commentator, not quite as planned, but the poppies were released in the right place, landing where a guard of honour was standing to attention. Nice touch, I thought, including couple to the minute silence that everyone, including the children, observed.

Leah Hammond coming in for the poppy drop

Bückers Jungmeister from the Breighton stable
Also from Breighton the ever popular Bückers Bestmann

And a "Welsh" Bückers Jungmann

Percival Mewgull and Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship represented the era of air racing and of course the former is a reminder of the famous flight to Cape Town by the late Alex Henshaw.

The Fighter Collection participated with their beautiful Gloster Gladiator, which was expertly displayed and made a very welcome addition to the show.
The Hardwick Fighters, led by Maurice Hammond in P-51D Mustang "Janie", arrived during the less windy conditions in the morning and in the afternoon put on a number of fly-byes as a pair, the other pilot, flying P-51D Mustang "Marinell", being Rob Davies.

One of the Gnat Display Team's Gnat T1s, in Red Arrows colour scheme, showed off its speed and agility against mostly dark and threatening skies.

The Breitling Wing Walkers with their orange Boeing Stearman aircraft performed their usual display of aerial aero- and acrobatics, much to the delight of the assembled crowd.

The locally based Blades Aerobatic Team, consisting of ex-Red Arrows pilots, put on a great display of aerobatic manoeuvres, again something we have come to expect from this highly professional team.

The Red Arrows were to close the show at 17:15, but following their display, another act turned up that should have arrived in the morning, Hangar 11's Peter Teichman in his Hurribomber BE505. He flew the display with his usual great panache. 

This year's Sywell Air Show was once again a credit to its organisers and despite the disappointing weather condition that precluded the participation of some eagerly anticipated acts, including the two Lancasters, what did fly and display was absolutely fantastic. I just hope that those that came to see the Lancasters do have the opportunity to see them elsewhere, that said, tickets for most events sell like hotcakes and the Little Gransden show is also a total sell out.

18 August 2014
Theo Claassen