Elliott Marsh's 2012 blogGAR Entries

JAN 18 2012
blogGAR: Elliott's New Year Catch-up

Crikey. 2012 already. How is that even remotely possible?! It feels like it was only yesterday that I was stood at Old Warden in the harshest of gales for the first airshow of the season on May 1st…

Since the season drew to a close at Duxford in October, my weekends have been fairly aviation light, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for any enthusiast. Those of us who are frequent airshow goers during the summer months can grow weary of the formulaic early starts, long drives and even seeing some of the same participants week in, week out from May to October. It's certainly nice to ease the weekly body blows my wallet has grown accustomed to taking of late!

It wasn't long after the last airshow that I was out and about in search of aviation again. Late October saw me spend the day at North Weald in the company of the Vampire Preservation Group’s Mark Hooton, working on the Global Aviation Magazine Issue 3 Vampire article. It’s always fascinating to see “behind the scenes” and get a feel for how these aircraft are maintained and operated out of the public eye.

It also presented a unique photo opportunity during Mark’s take-off, which saw new GAR recruit Thomas Pitts joining my brother and I at the end of the runway to shoot Mark’s departure “down the barrel”, so to speak. His ground-effect departure was a stunning moment in my aviation year and, while the photographs aren’t perhaps as awe-inspiring as I’d have hoped for, it was an experience that will live long in the memory. Our whooping, hollering and high-fiving reaction was suitably less cool, but absolutely justified under the circumstances.

That evening, we met up with Huw Hopkins and Richard Judge, amongst many others, for the Weald Aviation night-shoot that was, for me anyway, as much about the social aspect as it was about feeling your innards vibrating in tune to the Skyraider’s 2700rpm run-up. As a night-shoot it worked perfectly well from my perspective, despite a few hiccups that are to be expected when doing this kind of thing for the first time. The company, and the subsequent all-nighter at a nearby hotel, was exceptional. Huw’s drunken ‘Big Beautiful Doll’ sermon ranks as one of the most bizarre, yet utterly amazing things I have ever witnessed – and I still have the footage…

The Coventry night-shoot was similar in its blend of ‘entertaining photo-shoot’ and ‘cracking night out with blokes with beards’, although Judge and Hopkins may disagree after I tried killing them during our drive back to the hotel we were staying in – in my defence, how was I to know my gloves wouldn’t be able to grip the steering wheel?!

A definite improvement on the 2010 shoot, Coventry hit all my buttons with full force insofar as the aviation element went. The Meteor T.7 and Shackleton in particular were well worth the quite reasonable entry fee and the addition of some coloured lighting to the latter post-engine run was a nice touch.

Post-Coventry is traditionally a lengthy period of nothingness for aviation enthusiasts. Huw, my brother Greg and I tempered this by visiting the RAF Museum Hendon between Christmas and New Year on one of the rare days where I woke before 1pm, followed by a New Year's Eve visit to Duxford to have a look at The Fighter Collection's CR.42, which is in the midst of a trial assembly in Hangar 2. Also noteworthy is the B-17 'Mary Alice' rebuild currently underway in Hangar 5, giving visitors the unique opportunity to see the B-17 in a state of undress.

Moving into early January, North Weald’s New Year Fly-in was a quiet affair with plenty of movements throughout the day but only Peter Holloway’s exquisite Miles Falcon providing anything of substance for the vintage aircraft enthusiasts like myself. Still, something is always better than nothing!

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