Karl Drage's 2009 blogGAR Entries

NOV 19 2009
The Two Weeks that Were...

It's been a manic two and a bit weeks since my opening blogGAR piece, and it seems the concept has gone down pretty well with the readership.

As you've no doubt all seen by now the RNAS Yeovilton visit that was referenced in the first entry went really well. The third and final piece to come out of that should, all being well, appear next Tuesday.

Gareth and I had a really good couple of days down there, with the Wednesday afternoon spent in the field at the end of the runway, initially in the lashing rain, then in a rather pleasant sunset.

Most of the rotary, unsurprisingly, used the cross runway, but one Junglie and a hot-refuelling Chinook both flew down the ILS. Their timing, however, could've been better. On several occasions rather vibrant rainbows were present in the 'right' part of the sky, but alas it never quite worked out, though the Junglie did fly through a weaker one…

A couple of NFSF(FW) Hawks and a brace of 727 NAS Tutors bashed the circuit for well over half an hour as the sun went down including, as we found out a couple of days later, Lt AJ Thompson, this year's "Black 2", who's hoping to make the transition to fixed wing flying.

We weren't due at the main gate until 1000 the next morning, so after breakfast we decided to return to the venue of the previous afternoon's action, and we struck it lucky with the arrival of a Volga-Dnepr An-124 bringing a sick Junglie home.

Unfortunately I made a schoolboy error, having been convinced I'd set ISO200 on the body with the 10-22mm lens attached. As anyone who owns that lens will know, you simply have to get a decent f number, and particularly so with such a large aircraft, or you'll end up with bits in focus and bits out of focus. Alas, it turned out that I was on ISO100, and the f3.5-4.5 that ensued just didn't cut the mustard…

Frustrating, disappointing, but it happens. Thinking about it I don't recall ever being that close to a 124 before. Even the sheep that were largely uninterested by the Hawks the previous afternoon made a run for it!!

It was an absolute pleasure to meet Lt Cdr Matt Whitfield for the first time later that morning. If you didn't know, there's no way in the world you'd ever guess that he'd suffered a mild stroke back in August. You'd also do well to find a man more passionate about 'his' Service, but more of that next week…

As you've already seen, excellent visits to the Royal Navy Historic Flight and 702 NAS, where we met up with Lt Dave Lilly, this year's "Black Lead" followed. All told it was a highly productive and informative visit to Somerset.

Again, as we've already published, GAR were invited to the MH-53 dedication ceremony at the RAF Museum Cosford last Thursday. I don't think Gareth or myself were expecting our request to talk to Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff, to be approved, but approved it was.

That was one of three high profile 'events' for us over the course of three days last week. The second of those saw Glenn attend the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows', 'Meet the 2010 Team' media event on our behalf (all being well this is another piece for next week's push). And finally the last came when "Global Aviation Resource" was referenced in Saturday's edition of The Times newspaper.

It was a great way to move into our second six months of being and emphasises the huge amount of progress we've made since May. I don't think any of us could've begun to imagine we'd get anything like the levels of support we've received back then.

During our Cosford visit the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre was open, and while time was pressing we did manage a quick wander around. The latest arrival at the Museum, the Percival Prentice was present, while James May's "1/1 Airfix Spitfire" was on display outside.

We had hoped to have an air-to-air opportunity this week, but the weather's put paid to that - it'll get rescheduled though. That being the case our next 'outing' is to East Midlands Airport on Monday where we'll be paying a visit to DHL to see their cargo hub operations when they really come alive - after dark.

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2009-11-20 - Paul Dopson
The 124 shot works to my eye really well, if anything the out of focus bits actually add some "movement" to the shot. What's the restoration aircraft after the 124 series of shots? A suggestion maybe add aircraft type to the text on the large version of the image, then us lessor spotters ;-) wouldn't have to ask? Enjoying the blog by all you guys.

2009-11-19 - Gavin
I still think the AN-124 shot is still pretty good Karl! Even with the dodgy f stop.

Enjoying the site by the way!




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