Gareth Stringer's 2010 blogGAR Entries

JUL 30 2010
And, relax.................

Looking back at blogGAR I see that, Farnborough specials aside, nearly another month has gone by since my last update. Where did that time go?

Itís a crazy time for airshows in this country and weíre so lucky that during this time weíve been able to choose from the likes of Waddington, Old Warden, Duxford, Yeovilton, RIAT and of course Farnborough to name but a few.

I for one am taking a short break from it all now before recommencing next month Ė itís a time to catch up, get some written work finished, or started in one or two cases, and sort out some admin and housekeeping. Itís very easy to get behind the curve and this is the perfect time to clear a backlog. Iíve already finished one piece on one of our most popular military display teams and will shortly be moving on to the next one.

Waddington was excellent Ė a great show from an aviation perspective and also a very social one where I was able to catch up with many friends and, always a good thing, make some new ones. It was less than two weeks after my ankle operation so Gavin Weaver very kindly drove us there and back and we spent Friday inside, at the end of the runway, opposite the park and view which looked like it was heaving! It was great to meet Graham Platt in the afternoon, a contact of Karlís who supplied a piece for GAR on 23 Sqnís disbandment, and the three of us enjoyed a quiet walk around the statics at the end of the day.

My ankle felt like it was in pieces by the end of all that but I managed to drag myself out for a beer or two in the evening before retiring for an early night and some much needed rest. Gavin didnít manage quite as much sleep by all accounts but thatís another story and not mine to tell!

Karl travelled up on Saturday morning and we were fortunate enough to spend about half of Saturday on the southern Ďliveí side of the airfield, travelling across after the display briefing with the Tornado GR.4 role demo team who I had interviewed at Shawbury a few weeks before. Good banter in the mini-bus on the way ensued, especially when we had to wait for the home team of E-3, Sentinel and Nimrod to complete their flypasts and, other than the Mighty Hunter which left on a tasking, recover to land. We were eventually able to make a dash for it and spent the next thirty minutes or so with the team as they prepared their jets, crewed in and then taxied out to perform their impressive demo.

It was a busy day for the team as they only had a short breather after landing before setting off again, with the spare jet joining them, for a transit to Belgium and the show at Beauvechain, a nightstop in Brussels and then back to Waddington to display again the next day!

The following weekend saw Gav and I on the road again and making the journey south west for Yeoviltonís Air Day. It was so nice to see the show get some dry and bright weather after recent disappointments and I really enjoyed the show with the Danish F-16 and Commando Assault the stand out items for me. I was very complimentary about Capt Peter Vejling Kristiansenís display in my GAR report and it was great to hear that we had received an email from him this week asking for copies of the images we used. That was only his second public display ever and Iíve told him that it will be shame if we donít see him in the UK a little more often as his routine is a nice contrast to the Belgian and Dutch displays which support our shows so strongly.

Less than a week later Karl and I found ourselves at Fairford and we spent an enjoyable Friday morning wandering around the static display areas and photographing some of the arrivals. Typhoon was impressive as it blew over a whole row of cones and nearly the two of us as well, but the highlight for me was being on the ground as the F-4F arrived. Having been marshalled in to its place on the line it was decided to move the jet and we found ourselves nearly blown over once more Ė and we werenít even that close at that point! Lovely to see though and Karl took the opportunity to take some superb images from the top of the fuel bowsers that were doing the rounds as aircraft arrived.

We spent most of the afternoon on the display line to watch the multinational element of the Battle of Britain rehearsal and of course the F-22A Raptor. As you will no doubt have gathered by now I spend quite a lot of time on visits to bases and at airshows with Karl and Iím used to him snapping away at the action. It was quite amusing therefore to see him actually watching the majority of Zekeís demonstration Ė thatís the true power of the Raptor!

It was an amazing demo and one which generated much discussion as to its validity, or otherwise, when it comes to air combat. Everyone seems to have an opinion although I must say the crash of the Canadian CF-18 Hornet display jet at the weekend does highlight just what can happen should a problem occur at slow speed and high alpha - something the Raptor routine shows us on numerous occasions!

Monday morning saw me up bright and early for the drive to Karlís and, after battling some typically awful M25 traffic, we finally found ourselves inside the legendary airfield for FIA2010, and my goodness it was hot! You could barely move without melting but we had a successful day, albeit one where we viewed some of the flying display from a distance in the luxury of a chalet with a nice lunch in front of us Ė not the usual airshow experience then! Eurofighter was the consummate host in the hospitality area it shared with Panavia and Eurojet and it was great to meet some of the team we have worked with over the past few months for a feature in Eurofighter World magazine. Filming for PlanesTV was also good fun, and it was an honour for Iain and Adrian to entrust me with presenting their Day One highlights from such a high profile show.

Day two was a little more relaxed and we started the day with no planned appointments. This meant we were able to watch the bulk of the flying display although the opportunity to interview RAF Typhoon display pilot Flt Lt Tim Clement arose and we arranged to meet his display manager Fg Off Mark Smith for a trip to the live side at 16.00, just after the Raptor. Unfortunately there was no transport available which meant a long, hot walk (which did my ankle a lot of good!) round to the other side, but once there we were able to watch TCís display, the 787 and Spitfire flypast and then photograph TC as he taxied in and put the jet to bed. We borrowed an office for the interview which went very well and will appear as part of a project that I keep hinting about but am not yet able to reveal!

All that remained was the long return walk, this time all the way back to the main gate and shuttle buses, the drive back to Karlís and then onwards back to Birmingham. And here we are Ė I have nothing scheduled for this weekend and I still donít know when my big ankle op will be although itís looking a little more like September I reckon. In the meantime we do have some plans with Dawlish, another commentary opportunity and also Dunsfold looking particularly exciting.

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