This week has felt like something approaching a bit of normality is beginning to creep back in. Firstly, I’m looking forward to my first airshow of the year at lovely Shuttleworth tomorrow - there will be brilliant people, and good banter, and biscuits (always biscuits!) and above all lots of fabulous warbirds to watch and to photograph. Bliss! Not the rather wonderful old girl above though, no, that shot was taken earlier in the week up at RAF Coningsby when I ventured up for a trip which I knew would include not only some BBMF flying in the shape of the Dakota pictured above, but also something rather faster, noisier and altogether whizzier...
Yes - that’s the 2021 display pilot practising his display routine - and a first watch suggests that it is QUITE the routine, too! I was lucky with this sky too - the weather forecast said grey and overcast, but when I arrived in Lincolnshire there was a nice little patch of blue in not far off the right place, and sure enough it lingered around with some attendant sunshine for just long enough!
I’ve got a soft spot for the Dakota - often overlooked in favour of her more famous BBMF hangar-mate the wonderful Avro Lancaster, and I am nothing if not a keen supporter of the underdog as those who remember my speedway days will be all too aware of! The Dak is a beauty of an aircraft though, and with a fantastic history too both in military and domestic service.
That blue sky came into its own when it came to perfectly showcasing the Typhoon’s exit from the display, too - the traditional exit when the conditions allow is a fast vertical spiralling climb - as you can see from the photos above this looks great when seen from almost directly underneath, and the blast from the reheat looks fantastic against that vivid blue sky, too!
Also in an aviation vein but slightly earlier in the week, we had an unexpected and very local visit from the East Anglian Air Ambulance too.
Sitting in the front room after eating our tea, we heard a helicopter passing over somewhat lower than we are used to, so I opened the tracking app to take a look - and sure enough confirmed that it very much appeared that the Eurocopter EC145 had just landed in a nearby playing field. We threw on shoes and jackets and walked through the woods to go and take a look. Thankfully soon after we arrived the pilot confirmed that they had been stood down as the incident was deemed not serious enough to require their team’s skills. We quite often see the Herts & Essex machine locally but very rarely this one - it was called upon because it was already in the air returning from a previous shout when the call came through for this one.
As if a LOT of photos from the Coningsby trip weren’t enough to be working on, I also ventured to Imperial War Museum Duxford for a brief visit yesterday afternoon. I have taken a year’s membership to the museum - in part because it includes free entry to the “flying days” they have planned and in part because it’s been such a difficult years for museums generally, and in particular those who rely on big events like airshows. It felt like an easy way of doing something - and gives me some benefits also of course, including the ability to just pop up there for an hour or so as I did yesterday.
That is the Aircraft Restoration Company Hispano Buchon taxiing out ready for a run through of the display it will be performing at Shuttleworth - it’s a fantastic although slightly odd looking aircraft, but all those blurred edges on the camo pattern make it an absolute devil to photograph! There were also several Spitfires up and about so my trip up was very much worthwhile!
All in all, it has felt like a rather aviation-filled week, and with more yet to come!