Glenn Beasley's 2011 blogGAR Entries

MAR 13 2011
Welsh Rarebit

Hello all,

Iím certainly going to be clocking up the miles over the next week or so. Iíve had a couple of low level outings recently, my first visit to the Lake District and the M6 pass and then this week I was in LFA7 in Wales. Next week I head to RAF Leuchars to cover the retirement of the Tornado F.3 and the sad disbandment of 111(F) Squadron .

The low level days were quite contrasting in terms of the traffic seen and the difficulty of the climb up the respective hills! The M6 pass at Tebay is a breeze of a stroll up and then down the other side of the hill and the conditions were really good all day. Alas my sum total was one Tornado GR.4 which wasnít that surprising really as the scanner was pretty quiet for most of the day.

Into Wales this week and I can honestly say that I couldnít wait to get down the hill at the end of the day which is of course not like me! The driving winds encountered on top of Bluebell Hill made standing up near impossible and within moments of reaching the top, a gust of wind had taken my glasses from my face. Fortuntely they landed close by and I wasnít too close to the edge, otherwise the climb down would have been even more Ďinterestingí than normal. All my shots were taken from a sitting down position and keeping the camera steady was a difficult task; the shutter speed was cranked up considerably in order to try to combat the elements.

Amongst the gusting wind, there were a few showers, but mostly sunny conditions, and the RAF Valley Hawks were out in force, with at least 15 passes whilst I was there. The appearance early in the day of an MC-130H from RAF Mildenhall was the thing that really got my pulse racing though. A teasing high pass was followed by two very nice low level transits through the valley, providing a lovely opportunity to capture a rare sight at low level.

I said to myself Iíd be happy with the day after that if I got a Ďfrontlinerí and the chaps from RAF Marham duly obliged with a two ship of Tornado GR.4s, both in full squadron markings of II(AC) and IX(B) Squadron respectively. There were plenty of other rumblings overhead during the day but that was the sum total, which I couldnít really argue with in todayís climate of sweeping defence cuts.

Rather amusingly, for my Mrs anyway, was that I was going by the time of the back of my 50D and when it got to 17:00 I decided to call it a day. Getting back to my car, the clock in there said 17:00 and it does have a habit of playing up so I didnít think too much of it. Driving back home it occurred to me it wasnít getting dusky at all and it finally dawned on me that the clock on the camera hadnít been put back last year, so Iíd come down an hour early!!!

Looking ahead to next week, Iím taking the high road and heading for Scotland and the media day for the retirement of the F.3 and disbandment of 111(F) Squadron at Leuchars. Having had the F.3 around right from the beginning of my interest in aviation, as an airshow performer and general RAF asset, it's going to be another sad occasion and one that I canít quite believe has come around. I hope to be able to put together in words and pictures which properly celebrate the retirement of this hardworking aircraft and its crew.

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