Geoff Hibbert's 2009 blogGAR Entries

DEC 29 2009
My 2009 with Global Aviation Resource

Well, eight months to be truthful. It is funny how so much can change in twelve months, and the relief at seeing the end of 2008, my annus horribilis, was more than welcome.

After having spent three years on the staff at UKAR, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position on the team of Global Aviation Resource. Since then, I haven't looked back really. Opportunities have come along that just wouldn't have happened previously. Professionalism seems to be a key word here and one that we regularly hear from our contacts and correspondents. If you look at the numbers (no comments please!), we have produced over one hundred articles in a little over eight months, a massive achievement from a group of enthusiasts. In fact we are often greeted with surprise that we don't do this as a full time occupation - now that is a nice compliment.

My year with GAR started slowly really, and the first event I attended was the Fly Navy 100 celebrations at RAF Northolt. This really was a wonderful event, only slightly dampened (not literally) by the cloudy weather. The sight of 20 helicopters starting, departing and returning was a sight seldom seen and one that I shall remember for a very long time. The following days brought a quick trip up to East Midlands Airport where I managed to bag one of those "shot of a lifetime" opportunities. A 757 flying through the middle of a rainbow……how lucky was that?? Well I did get wet….so I deserved a break.

June brought a trip to the Welsh valleys for me. Whilst seeing the aircraft fly past at high speeds is exciting, it has lost its shine for me, simply because of the amount of people doing it. Once exciting low level images have now become bland and mundane; sad but true.

A few days later I was at Northolt again, and this time I had bid for a place on the airfield to photograph the aircraft arriving for the Families Day that weekend. It was good fun but blow me, I was starting to get fed up with the rain!

RIAT came, it rained. I'll move on shall I?

July brought my first trip to Salisbury Plain; a place I absolutely love. Okay so I only really shot two aircraft all day but one of them was the Boscombe based Mil Mi-8 Hip - an aircraft high on my hit list to shoot. This machine does have a big draw for me. Firstly it's Raspberry Ripple coloured, and secondly it's of Russian descent - what's not to like?

August came and sent me very far south to Dawlish to attend the Carnival Airshow. Once again a fantastic event was staged - not quite a vintage year like in 2008 but still very enjoyable nevertheless. The guys behind the show really do try and put on a superb event and for the most part succeed. The only thing really missing this year was the RAF Typhoon display but that was well beyond the control of Kev Wills and the team. The day after Dawlish I decided to go and do a bit of lurking outside RAF Coningsby. I hadn't shot anything from outside a base since the previous year and so quite enjoyed it.

September once again took me to Wales for a setup with Lakenheath based F-15E Strike Eagles. This was one of the worst best days I have ever had!! A great morning with superb light was followed by a mind numbingly boring afternoon until between six and six-thirty, when we were treated to spectacular passes from the Eagles. It was just mayhem for half an hour, and I loved every moment of it. A week later I was back on Salisbury Plain for another try. The forecast was good, it was sunny, and that can only mean one thing……very few movements!! What we saw was great and an Apache going overhead around 100 feet (if that) for around an hour was a spectacle not to be missed, but three aircraft all day was slightly disappointing.

October took me the DHL hub at East Midlands Airport for the launch of their new 767ERF freighter. It was at this event that it first dawned on me just how far GAR had come. I was there with BBC East Midlands television and the Derby Evening Telegraph newspaper…that's it! As an aviation media outlet, in my eyes, we'd arrived!

A week or so later brought a first for me…..flying. Not in a commercial jet but in a tiny Piper Tomahawk. Yes I was scared, yes I thought I would be sick and yes I adored it. I have been twice at the time of writing this and a third trip is beckoning. I can't wait!

The end of October saw a real favourite of mine return to East Midlands Airport, the amazing Antonov An-225 Mriya. I find this aircraft fascinating and beautifully ugly - it's huge, it's wrong and I want to see it again and again and again. It has recently been repainted with a very nice blue and yellow stripe down the side, it doesn't sound like much but it does look the business.

November was fairly quiet as annual leave was rapidly running out and the dark nights and pants weather had arrived. Karl, Gareth and I made a trip to DHL again towards the end of the month for a fascinating tour and night photo shoot, we tried to contain our excitement when out on the tarmac but did on occasion let slip. Seeing the mighty aircraft being loaded and then starting up brought some great photo opportunities.

December came and so did some sunny weather. Karl, Michael Hind and I decided to go on a trip to Salisbury Plain again, but alas we drew a blank! We only found out at three o'clock that the area where we had stood all day long was in fact closed. In the words of Homer Simpson, "doh!" Still, you win some you lose some and it's not as if eight hours in the car wasn't worth it, right Michael??

A quick trip to East Midlands Airport on the 19th saw the arrival of the Maximus Air Cargo Antonov An-124 Ruslan freighter, and my word was it worth waiting for? Actually no, it was a bit of a let down, but plenty of people turned out to see it.

The end of December saw Karl and I travel to the Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit, which for me, turned out to be the highlight of the year. I'll be honest, when Gareth dropped out and Karl asked me to go, I did think it would be a bit boring shooting three helicopters which were all the same. That was until the guys said, "You are coming flying with us, aren't you?" I did a big gulp! Half an hour later, we were strapped into the Eurocopter EC-145 and went for an hour and a half trip. This was one of the best experiences of my life, it really was. Not scary at all, a little nausea inducing at times but just amazing.

So there it is, my first year with GAR. I've had some great days out, been in the air five times (albeit twice on a BMI Baby 737) and had a trip of a lifetime with the Police!!

Bring on 2010, I'm going hot air ballooning, wing walking, sky diving, it's sort of a Blue Peter "Duncan Dares" type of thing, or maybe "Drunken Dares" would be more apt? (not everything in that sentence is true by the way)

Competition - Win a copy of PlanesTV.com's Leuchars Airshow '09 DVD

For your chance to win, simply answer the following question:

To enter, please use the Contact Us form at the top of the page. Use "Leuchars DVD Competition" as the subject and put your answer to the question in the "Your message" section.

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2010-01-05 - Geoff Hibbert
Congratulations to Mark Kwiatkowski.

Mark is the winner of the Leuchars 2009 DVD in our competition. He gave the correct answer "6,000,000 litres".

Well done Mark, and thanks to all those who entered.

Geoff Hibbert

2010-01-02 - Chris Milne
Geoff, A very interesting report here. Your photography has really come alive in this set, especially for me was the F15E that looks like it's going vertical.

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