Glenn Beasley's 2011 blogGAR Entries

AUG 17 2011
blogGAR: A Month of Many Miles - Glenn's July Aviation Round-up

July was a month of many miles! Four days at Waddington, the following weekend taking in Yeovilton on the Saturday and Duxford for Flying Legends on the Sunday. Then on down to the Cotswolds for four days at RIAT 2011. Then a visit to see the Vulcan in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District. It is quite welcome to have a break and catch up with the backlog of photographic material collated along the way. It’s good to be able to share some of those memorable moments in this blog. I also accumulated a few ‘air miles’ along the way too. Stay tuned!

Obviously the airshow scene is a very different place to that of 10 to 20 years ago. It’s also interesting to talk to those who attended airshows even further back than that, when the internet wasn’t there to tell you what was or wasn’t coming, or to conspire rumours and counter rumours of what is going on. I can still recall reading the pages of Aircraft Illustrated myself to find out what was going to be at a particular show. Whether a certain act had made it or not, you didn’t know until you turned up on the day, which was what added to the excitement of the show for me. I do miss those days.

I think now we turn up with so much more knowledge and information at our disposal that when we get there and find something not to be quite as advertised on a certain website or forum, it’s almost like someone has broken the terms of the invisible airshow contract! I also think that there’s an element of obsession at times about this aviation world we immerse ourselves in that sometimes leads to a knee jerk reaction when things don’t turn out quite as we hope them to be.

I think what being involved with GAR has taught me and through working with people across the spectrum of aviation in terms of writing and taking pictures is that there are so many different variables that come together to make an event such as an airshow happen. I think at GAR we’ve tried to understand that ‘bigger picture’ that is going on by working with the people at the heart of either operating aircraft or organising events for the general public. It’s certainly opened my eyes to a few things and made me consider that all is not so easily black or white all the time.

It all tells a story when you see so many of our European enthusiasts friends still coming to our shows and from even further afield - America and the Far East - for shows such as Flying Legends and RIAT. The mix of military, classic jets, warbirds, aerobatic teams and civilian acts is clearly still a big draw for them to come to our country and enjoy. Maybe we’re all taking it a bit for granted what we get year on year, or perhaps we should look at doing the same and going to see what they have on offer for us if we’re not happy with what we’ve got?

I’m not saying everything is perfect, or I wouldn’t go back in my time machine if I could, but there comes a point where you have to accept this is what we’ve got now and indeed appreciate it. Who knows how long some of this stuff will be around or we’ll have the resources to operate it? Not wishing to single out individuals, but an act like Team Viper, five stunning Hawker Hunters of different marks; where else is that happening in the world right now? Are the BBMF going to go on forever? I do hope so, but I’m not taking it for granted.

Not everyone will agree, and of course everyone has a different view and opinion, but I’m a little tired of hearing all the negatives to be honest. I think there’s constructive criticism of course, but often I feel it’s at the other end of the scale unfortunately. Don’t think it doesn’t get through to those people in the airshow world, the organisers and the acts, they can all read and listen and it does register with them without a doubt. The world is a difficult place at the moment that’s for sure and we’re lucky to enjoy what we have in my view.

Yes, it’s more expensive than it used to be, There’s less of it, the roads aren’t getting any better to get there, the hedges are getting taller, the list goes on! But going back to the information age, we’ve never had it so good in terms of getting to know our air display acts. Social networking like Facebook and Twitter and now of course the Hangar are fantastic ways of keeping up to date with what’s happening. It’s superb to know when XH558 is taxying, taking off or landing for instance. Many of the shows also have ‘Meet the Pilots’ areas now too, which is a great innovation to get our young people engaged with our armed forces.

And so in summary, I think the internet and the information age has taken a bit of the magic away from the airshow scene but it has also given us so much more knowledge to understand what is going on. Yet despite all that information I think much of the time we simply ignore it and we’re too enshrined in what we want to see happening. We’re terribly dedicated souls us aviation people, we travel so far, lose so much sleep, teeter on the top of mountains or ladders that sometimes we don’t see the wood for the proverbial trees.

All a bit of a babble in truth, but I hope you can understand a bit where I and my GAR colleagues are coming from. As a final note, I’d like to congratulate my GAR colleagues on their superb achievement of winning the award for aviation journalism from the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators for the Harrier retirement features. The amount of time that they dedicate to GAR and now the Hangar is unreal and that dedication to detail and quality has deservedly paid off. With welcome new blood on board to the team, the future looks very bright indeed.

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