Geoff Hibbert's 2010 blogGAR Entries

FEB 24 2010
A Hind on Salisbury Plain

Sadly not a new aircraft in the RAF’s inventory but my mate, Michael Hind, and I decided to “venture south” to the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA).

With a month or so of appalling weather, it was somewhat of a gamble to decide to take a day’s holiday and travel the 160 miles or so to try and get a few snaps of a few aircraft. Thankfully, it’s one that paid off…this time.

My last outing to the SPTA was less fruitful, I spent almost a full day at one location, only to find out that it was closed due to an exercise elsewhere on the Plain…Doh!!! As I believe they say!

We set off around 5.45 for the long journey south and while I would like to say it was without incident I’d be telling lies! I blame the technology!! I blame TomTom!! With a new sat nav device I obeyed its every command and found that I was going to do 50 plus miles on the A429! “This will take forever,” I said to Hind. So I decided to re-navigate back to the M40. All was going well and as we travelled along the country lanes the snow on the ground got worse and worse. We took one bend fairly slowly but alas, it was not slowly enough! A bit of a sideways slide and loss of control gave me a 5p, 50p, moment, if you know what I mean?!

Still, we made it around the corner and thank goodness there were no kerbs! As we carried on, the lovely lady from the silver and black box said “In 400 yards turn right, M40,” so as per usual, I obeyed. A honk from the bloke behind was a bit strange, but as I took the right turn and passed the “No Entry” signs, I knew I’d dropped a love spud! Fortunately I managed to do an immediate “U” turn and a very embarrassing journey the wrong way up the M40, was avoided!

We arrived at our destination around 8.50, in one piece, thankfully! We were on location by 9.25 and set up shop in the hope of a great day's shooting. I’ll be honest, I was a little concerned that no one else was there. Was it closed again? Oh God, let’s hope not.

This time at least we had an exit strategy; 12.00pm was the cut off and if we hadn’t seen anything by then, we’d be off! The only slight concern was that the scanner was quiet; literally nothing was heard at all. So when an Army Air Corps Gazelle turned up, I knew something was wrong with the radio! I was certain it was me being a spanner (and I wasn’t alone in drawing that conclusion) and not knowing how to use the damn thing doesn’t help, but I later found out (thanks to Morley Lester) that a temporary frequency was in use. As soon as we tuned in, the scanner was alive!

From 11.15 until our departure time of 3.50, it was almost non-stop action. We had a break in the fun and festivities during a very heavy snow shower (as you can see in one of the pictures) but other than that, there was almost always something within our sight.

This was by far the best day I have ever had on the SPTA, and our tally of aircraft included two AAC Gazelles, two Boscombe down Gazelles, twice, an AAC Lynx, a Boscombe Sea King, twice, an RAF Chinook, two AAC Apaches and an AAC Squirrel. I don’t mind admitting that when we saw the Raspberry Ripple Sea King coming towards us, I did get very excited!!

Sadly most of the time he spent on the ground was accompanied by snow and cloud, but hey, it still looked great.

So that was it really, a long journey, a long walk, a long wait, a quiet radio! But when the action did kick off, it just didn’t stop! This day out really renewed my faith in the Plain. Having had several very quiet visits last year and one complete blank, you do begin to wonder if it’s worth it. This day out proved that it was very much worth it.

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2010-02-24 - Spencer Wilmot
A funny yet interesting read!! It's somewhere I've wanted to go for a while now and this article has given me incentive to do so! Well written, well done!

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