Tuesday, 10 September 2013

And in the nick of time...

Well if you read SFT's blog yesterday I bet you can already guess where MrEH & I spent Sunday afternoon! Yes, in a slightly damp field near Duxford, that's where! We're not all that far from Duxford - about 30 miles and it's a straight journey up the motorway so we do try to head that way for their big airshows when we can. We'd missed the Spring show this year, so when we heard that displays for the Autumn show included the Red Arrows and Battle of Britain Memorial flight we were determined to go.

Now I have to make a small confession here - and admit that we have never EVER paid to go into a Duxford airshow. Along with a small crowd of others, instead we head to a field about a mile away from the end of the runway and watch from there - in aircraft terms a mile on the ground is next to nothing, and apart from the very small planes pretty much everything that displays comes directly over our heads at some stage...including these...


- that turns out to be Red 7 - James McMillan, identified with some help on Twitter from Red 4.

We arrived at Duxford just ahead of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight's planned display time - and instantly found ourselves huddled under an umbrella in POURING rain. Not ideal, and having driven through broadly similar weather on the way up, we did briefly wonder whether we were wasting our time. Thankfully the rain stopped, and clouds lifted, and the BBMF - who'd clearly been waiting for a break - flew in. Great to see them as always - although due to the delay in them appearing their display was curtailed somewhat - something that Spitfire Pilot Andrew Millican was clearly not best pleased about judging by his later comments. Shortly after another big warbird - B17 Bomber Sally-B - a regular at this show and always great to see. I got some more decent photos of her too as the light had improved a bit.


I was very keenly looking forward to seeing the French equivalent of the Red Arrows - Patrouille De France - the first time I've seen them display and we weren't disappointed. They fly an 8-ship formation, and it must be said that their red/white/blue painted Alpha jets are nothing like as eye catching as the Reds Hawks. Some of the formations flown are similar to those we're used to, while others, like this...


...are those that make them stand out as "something different". We commented that their precision did not seem to be quite as marked as we'd expect, and although initially I wasn't sure that this was the case, seeing RAFAT display very soon afterwards proved this to be the case. They make far more use of the smoke trails than our chaps do - the Reds have quite limited amounts of smoke with each Hawk carrying dye enough for 5 minutes of white smoke and a minute each of red & blue, as a result they have to be extremely precise about switching on, and off. Several times during the PdF display MrEH noted that a lone jet was still trailing smoke some time after it appeared that it should have been shut off. Regardless however, they put on an excellent show, and it was a pleasure to watch another of the world's military aerobatic teams in action.

The light began falling away at this point so we contented ourselves with drinking tea from the flask (well of course!) and eating Jammie Dodgers while various planes some of which I recognised, some of which I didn't, flew overhead. The SIX Spitfires roaring in overhead was quite something to see, and hear, Duxford loves its WWII planes and you can always guarantee plenty of Spitfires, Hurricanes and similar. Then the rain started falling - looking across the countryside we could see it was going to be heavy so we grabbed everything and made a dash for the car - made it just in time as the heavens opened! There was only about half an hour to go before the Red Arrows were due to leave Scampton and a lot of folk clearly decided that there was no way their show was going to go ahead - we, being the stubborn types we are (and having a flask that still had tea in it...) stuck it out though. Gradually the rain stopped, and it started brightening a little...take-off time from Scampton came and went with no news on Twitter, which we took to be a good thing, and eventually, in the nick of time, the sun broke through!


...Better than that, the weather conditions meant that the light was absolutely fantastic and the smoke trails more spectacular even than usual...


The show itself was another cracker - with the flat open countryside all around you can see the formation approaching from a good way out, and there's nothing to block your view of the run-ins so you get plenty of warning of each manoeuvre and (in theory, anyway!) time to set up for it. I got my wished for shot of the 5/4 split...


...and a different angle of one of the breaks with spectacular smoke trails...


Finally, at the end of the display the guys formed up for a final fly-through - on went the smoke...


What a fantastic final view of the team for 2013! 

Robyn


6 comments:

Scarlet said...

Oh my word - your photos are spectacular! I'm so glad that there were breaks in the weather so that you could get these amazing shots.

Robyn said...

Thank you - the light was so perfect for the Reds - I was grinning all over my face on the way home because I just KNEW that the shots I'd got were going to be good - it's lovely when that happens! As the icing on the cake, one of the team has "favourited" several of the shots I put up on Twitter - very cool indeed!

Judy Y said...

Brilliant photos Robyn! Love those particularly with the smoke trails :)

Robyn said...

Thanks Judy - with the weather having been so terrible and improved literally minutes before they flew in, the conditions were just perfect for the smoke trails!

saving for travel said...

Hi Robyn,

I read this post when it appeared but wanted to wait until I had time to leave a proper comment.

I am an absolute beginner regarding planes. I actually thought the French planes were the red arrows to start. Mr Sft cleared up that misunderstanding. I think we got there a bit earlier. The typhoon was first.

We were wearing shorts, had no tea unlike you and were getting a bit chilly. So we left just as the spitfires came up and as we went round the roundabout they all flew just in front of the van-what a view-although i was telling Mr Sft he must keep his eyes on the road.

Your photos of the arrows are outstanding and have wetted our appetite for more (free and paid) airshows in the future. I looked up the price of taxying the Lancaster at Lincoln (possible future treat for Mr Sft). At £300 I better start saving.

Sft x

Robyn said...

Ahhh, that explains it then - I was wondering how on earth we'd managed to miss the Typhoon - it's a bit loud to "just not notice!". The 6 Spitfires were an absolute highlight for us - they came from behind and came roaring in over the top of us - just incredible. i was so impressed I forgot to pick the camera up - bit of a fail there!
Thanks for your comment about my photos too - I absolutely LOVE photographing the Reds - they're so incredible to watch and there's always a different angle to capture! I fancy a trip up with The Blades (Google them - they're fab!) but goodness knows how much THAT costs!