Gareth Stringer's 2010 blogGAR Entries

SEP 09 2010
Benson Families Day, Dunsfold delights, A.net and Remembering The Few.

Hi folks. Itís been a little while since my last update and while I managed a few airshow-free weeks itís still been a busy time with plenty going on.

Apart from writing copious amounts I spent a good chunk of time preparing to commentate at RAF Bensonís Families Day a couple of weeks ago so it was a huge disappointment that the elements managed to conspire against us and deliver a horribly wet and miserable day for the many people who attended.

Amazingly the flying display was largely unaffected although the same canít be said for the PA system unfortunately! After some chat to inform the crowd what we hoped would be happening throughout the day we were eventually ready to kick things off and, once heíd finished his sandwich, I handed over to Red 10, Baggers. The Reds flew an amazing display in pretty grim conditions and were followed by three passes from a pair of Harriers which somehow managed to find Benson through the murk. So far, despite the weather, all was going OK and co-commentator Gareth Attridge and I were enjoying the experience.

Next up was The Blades and I handed over to James Cliff the teamís affable commentator who, about half way through, came running over waving the radio mic saying ďitís gone off, itís not workingĒ. Well, actually the mic was still working, but we soon discovered that the generator powering the entire PA system wasnít!

For forty minutes or so, a period which encompassed the remainder of The Blades, the BBMF Lancaster and Flt Lt Tom Bould in the Tucano, we were, quite literally, powerless! Finally it was resolved and Gareth and I were able to get back live for the last couple of items, the King Air and a Hawk flypast, and a chat about the eveningís hangar party and such like. Still, it was an excellent thing to do and I was honoured to give my time and am sure the preparation will stand me in good stead for future opportunities.

Just a few days later Karl and I headed for Surrey and Dunsfoldís Wings and Wheels 2010 in the company of Team Merlin. Thankfully the weather managed a massive improvement, despite one significant downpour on Sunday (check out Karl's expensive choice of shelter!), and we enjoyed a stunning weekend. In my experience there is rarely one factor that makes for a great airshow, it is a combination of many, and for this one everything came together Ė or at least all those things which make weekendís special for me, everyone being different of course. Excellent weather, great flying, a lovely airfield, a well organised airshow and good friends and brilliant company with loads of laughs along the way.

As some of you know and will hopefully have seen from our review of the event this was MACR Gareth Attridgeís last event as the Manager of Team Merlin after a five year stint at the helm. It was a great pleasure to be there with him for this landmark occasion and I just want to point you towards what I said in the review and once again wish him the best of luck for the future. Weíll have more on Garethís tenure and the history of Team Merlin in the next few weeks, including a contribution from his successor and itís a feature that we are very much looking forward to presenting.

Dunsfold was also a hugely successful weekend with the camera and well, thatís something that I donít often get to say! The light which followed the rain on Sunday afternoon (when Karl and I were on the live side of the airfield) was stunning, possibly the best either of us has experienced for some time and I was chuffed when I returned home on Tuesday and took a look at my pictures, which Iím sure most of you will appreciate is always a nice feeling!

This blogGAR, as you can see, is illustrated with images that I didnít use when putting the page together and chances are they will be some of the last that I capture for a few weeks as yes, my ankle operation has finally arrived and all being well will be taking place tomorrow morning. That time recuperating will not be wasted however and as well as writing will give me a chance to upload a few more shots to Airliners.net Ė a whole new experience for me. Like many others I have followed the pros and cons of uploading to A.net and the arguments about rejected images and such like. I joked about it for a while but then Karl, in a serious tone, suggested I should go for it and that perusing the site would probably be useful in terms of stimulating a little more thought as to how I process my images - so I did.

I started by uploading a pair of images (the maximum as a newbie) which to my surprise were both accepted. Not only that, but my Bell 212 from Middle Wallop was a new addition to the database, not something I ever thought of checking if Iím completely honest! I was then able to upload five more and last weekend these were all accepted too, much to my amusement and that of the chaps who banter about A.net on Twitter Ė you know who you are! There are now five further images in the queue and weíll see how these get on, although Iím under no illusion that my 100% acceptance rate will last for ever and Karl reckons only a couple of those in the queue would get on if he were uploading them! Itís a fascinating site though, no question about it, and a great one for whiling away the time looking at the reams of stunning pictures, through to those whose success is a little harder to fathom! Some of the images you see here are as a result of my playing around a little more creatively than normal however so they probably won't be joining the A.net queue!

Last weekend we launched GARís Battle of Britain microsite which will see us publishing work dedicated to commemorating the 70th anniversary of those extraordinary events that shaped WWII and possibly the world as we know it. This is something weíve been planning for some time now so it was great to see it go live with such a stunning first piece courtesy of Dilip Sarkar MBE. I met Dilip back in June when he joined us in the commentary box at the Cotswold Airshow to talk specifically about the Battle of Britain. I interviewed him live over Sunday's lunch break and he brought so much to that dayís proceedings that many people sought us out afterwards to mention it, for he delivered it all in a very relaxed and down to earth fashion, with none of the airs and graces that you might expect from such an intellectual heavyweight. A man with true passion and knowledge.

With 28 books to his name I wasnít sure how contributing a piece for GAR would fit in but he immediately said he would be delighted to help and we in turn were delighted to publish it last Saturday, a great way to start things off and I truly hope you enjoy the rest of the content that we have planned.

Finally, with this week marking the reformation of 6 Sqn RAF with the Eurofighter Typhoon, Sqn Ldr Scott Loughran and a number of his colleagues are cycling from RAF Coningsby to their new home at RAF Leuchars, via a swim across the Forth! It's all for a very good cause naturally, the Children's Hospice Association Scotland, and I know that Scott and the whole team would be hugely appreciative if you could spare a few quid towards their goal of £2000. Full details can be found here http://www.justgiving.com/6sqn-challenge and we look forward to seeing how Scott got on when we meet up at Leuchars in due course.

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