Gareth Stringer's 2011 blogGAR Entries

MAY 02 2011
blogGAR - Regal Royal Air Force Does It Again

Any of you who watched the Royal Wedding on Friday and had one eye on social media such as Twitter or Facebook could hardly have failed to note the reaction to the flypast for Prince William and Kate Middleton – now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge of course.

It was a very graphic indication of the emotional power that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Royal Air Force, indeed all our Armed Forces I suppose, continue to wield over the general public.

Naturally, many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter are interested in aviation, but equally, I also converse with many who, like me, follow the football or simply share other similar, non aerospace related interests. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at the outpouring of affection and respect that the appearance of the BBMF generated – but I was genuinely a little taken aback.

Twitter in particular went barmy for a period of time with Tweets about the BBMF, the ‘Best of British’ feeling it generates and the pride that everyone wanted to voice for our Royal Air Force and the Country in general. It was great to see and, as many people commented, the whole event did seem to reignite some good old patriotism, thankfully in its best possible incarnation.

This last few weeks has seen many people decrying the whole event and I noted a significant number saying they would do all they could to avoid watching it. Funny old thing, but many of them did seem to watch it after all! Granted, there will always be a contingent who do so in such circumstances just to use it as an opportunity for cynicism but you know what, each to their own, and there was a lot of good humour as well.

I’m certainly not writing this as a hugely staunch monarchist myself and I can’t deny that there was some seriously good banter along the way which certainly kept things interesting!

The fascinating thing, as I followed proceedings with one eye on the television and another on my computer, was that many people seemed to become less and less cynical as the events unfolded – with the BBMF and then the Tornado / Typhoon flypast seemingly pushing some of them over the patriotic edge!

We should never take our Armed Forces for granted of course, be it in either a historical or indeed modern day sense. No matter how tough things are for them and how under-equipped or undermanned we believe them to be, this should surely always translate in to wholehearted support, not an opportunity to try and turn them in to a figure of fun or a political football. That’s what I believe anyway and I’ll happily leave that to the tabloids or some of the broadsheets’ so called ‘Defence Correspondents’.

Huge congratulations to the Royal Air Force for making it happen on the day then and it deserves all the plaudits it gets, as do all the other services who took part. The BBC coverage of the flypasts was sadly, and perhaps a little predictably, rather disappointing, but that’s another story for another time!

Meanwhile, the last few weeks have seen us busier than ever. Continuing the Royal connection (just!) we’ve been to RAF Valley to meet Flt Lt Jules Fleming and the 2011 Hawk Display Team, a visit which also gave us the chance to learn much about the Hawk T.2. That’s for two forthcoming pieces of content which we think you’ll really enjoy.

We also travelled to AAC Wattisham to meet the 2011 AH-1 Apache Longbow Display Team, another visit of two halves as the Gnat Display Team was also taking up residence for three days of training. Again, features will be forthcoming but it is certainly fair to say that the Apache’s display routine is incredibly impressive and not to be missed if you can get to one of the five events they currently have scheduled for this year.

Prior to all that Karl and I found ourselves at RAF Benson for an update on the Merlin Force and Team Merlin and it’s always a pleasure to visit somewhere with so many friendly faces and where you are made to feel so welcome. The basis of that feature will be an interview with Wg Cdr Dan Startup, OC of 78 Sqn, and again, that should be coming to GAR quite soon.

There is certainly a whole heap of work ongoing at the moment, both in terms of generating content and also some housekeeping which will keep the site fresh and help you find what you might be looking for. We are also working on plans to increase our interaction with you, our readers and supporters, and the best way to stay in touch with all the latest GAR news is to become a fan on Facebook, join us on Twitter and also sign up to our mailing list.

Other than keeping you bang up to date with everything GAR related we are also planning competitions and such like which could definitely make doing one or more of the above well worth your while – feel free to ask any questions you may have of the GAR team as well as we’ll always do our best to answer. Staying up to date doesn’t cost a penny either which is even better!

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2011-05-02 - Jamie Cook
Thank you!

2011-05-02 - Gareth Stringer
Hi Jamie

At the time of our visit they were Waddington, RIAT, the Suffolk Show, Silverstone and Duxford - but they were not all 100% confirmed.

Hopefully we will be able to confirm them when our feature is published.



2011-05-02 - Jamie Cook
What five events does the Apache team have scheduled?

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