Glenn Beasley's 2011 blogGAR Entries

FEB 13 2011
Past, Present and the Future

Hello all.

Time to catch up on January and early February which has brought a number of ‘outings.’ Despite the sad nature of some of the subjects involved, I’m feeling a renewed sense of purpose about my aviation photojournalism this year and I think that’s reflected in what I’ve been able to capture and hopefully what’s to come from the rest of 2011.

Of course the 55 Squadron Dominie retirement was another sad occasion. I picked the Tuesday 18th practice day to attend due to the quality of the weather and at least I can say my final images of these workhorses are against a rich winter blue sky. I have a particular affection for the Dominie, having spent many days of my youth seeing them fly around the skies of the former RAF Finningley. Indeed I recently discovered some old video footage from the early nineties I had shot, with the classic red and white livery on show.

A quick jaunt to RAF Waddington followed after the Dominie farewell in search of another aircraft facing the cull, the Nimrod R.1. Unfortunately it was not be, but we caught yet another aircraft on its way out of RAF service soon, in the shape of a Sentinel R.1. I’m starting to think there’s this band of photographers moving from one base to the next to catch the RAF’s assets being struck off the register! It would be funny if it weren’t true. Next stop RAF Leuchars then.

Talking of Finningley, now of course Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, I was grateful to be permitted to view a special visitor, which was in for paint. Hangar 11’s lovely Spitfire PR11, which was adorned in its new overall blue by Kinch Aviation which is sited in Hangar 2. I was able to capture the work in progress and return just over a week later for the finished version before she departed back to North Weald.

Another ill fated Nimrod run was my most recent outing on February 8th. My original plan was to head for RAF Waddington, as I haven’t as yet actually got a Shadow in my scrapbook either. Grateful for some ‘local’ knowledge I was made aware that neither of the remaining ‘Mighty Hunters’ was in residence so I decided to go slightly further a field to RAF Coningsby.

Given my numerous visits to ‘Fightertown UK’ over the past few years I’ve shot Typhoons from just about every location and angle that you could think of! Therefore I began by staking out the 07 end as they were landing on Runway 25, in the hope that I would bag that elusive ‘chute’ shot which has evaded me thus far. The light at this time of year on a good weather day (as this was) was also a big draw for me. All the recoveries were going long to the end of the runway too with a Tornado GR.4 blocking off the earlier taxiway.

It wasn’t long before the scanner crackled into life and ‘Crazyhorse’ flight recovered consisting of a 29 Squadron and 17 Squadron pairing. The BBMF Chipmunk was also during circuits, one of which was a rather interesting jaunt around the end of the runway which provided a decent opportunity.

Another three or four recoveries followed, along with the launch of four more jets and during a lull in proceedings I headed to the other end in search of a good sunset which looked on the cards given the bright sun and cloud formations in the sky.

Having got to the 25 end at around 4pm I began to get a little concerned the opportunity would be lost as by 4:45pm nothing was back. Two more Typhoons departed from the 11 Sqn side and by the time the first Typhoon called up to recover the sun had disappeared from view.

What was left though was the most superb orange sky, highlighted by contrails. It was a moment to enjoy what this pastime is all about and a chance to get some memorable images. I tried out a few different exposures before the first jets recovered but with most of the recoveries performing at least one circuit there were plenty of opportunities to catch a ‘good’ one.

Full credit to anyone who takes a good sunset image, as shooting into the sun isn’t an easy task. The sky is constantly changing in terms of available light, so making adjustments is constantly necessary to check exposures are decent. It also doesn’t help when you know it’s a good opportunity and you’re trying really hard to make sure you don’t mess it up!

It was now pretty dark but still Typhoons were being launched and it was interesting to see the glow of the engines, without the reheat being used. It was time to depart, thankful that Coningsby had once again managed to deliver the goods in just the few short hours I was actually there.

I’m working on something really good at the moment and touch wood it looks like its going to come off. Suffice to say it would be right up there with anything I’ve ever done if it happens and I’m keeping everything crossed it does and I can bring it to GAR in the near future.

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