Wednesday, 19 November 2014

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

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