Karl Drage's 2009 blogGAR Entries

NOV 25 2009
Bucks From Above

After the frustrations the weather posed to our plans for last Thursday we were delighted to note a forecasted break in the prevalent conditions for Sunday morning, so, with Sammy in tow, Gareth and I headed off for an 0830 meeting with Mark Hooton (of the Vampire Preservation Group) at Cranfield - the aim being to capture some air-to-air images of one Milton Keynes Flying School's aircraft.

When we arrived the weather was perfect. Crystal clear skies and light winds - the type of conditions that used to be a regular feature during our autumn months but seem to be far less common now. Typically after a meet and greet with Terry Akeroyd, the man behind the operation, a quick coffee and, for Sammy, some 'stick time' on the School's flight simulator, complete with yoke and rudder pedals, the clear blues had been succeeded by heavy overcast conditions…

Mark and Matt French, a volunteer with the Vampire Preservation Group who Mark was instructing, were already airborne in the Piper Tomahawk, G-BMVL, a former British Airways Flying Club aircraft and the subject of our air-to-air shoot.

Our pilot was Jim Busby and his Cessna 182, G-GHOW, was to be our camera-ship. This was both Gareth and Sammy's first air-to-air experience and, for Sammy, his first taste of flight in anything other than an airliner.

Taxying out Jim noted just how grim it had become. He was right, it was, but we vowed to give it our best shot.

Once airborne we headed towards Silverstone where Jim put out a call for Mark on the radio and our rendezvous was managed over Milton Keynes.

Before long Mark appeared off in front of us. Once visual with us passed down our left-hand side before turning in to sit first on our tail and then just behind the port wing. The Cessna 182 has an opening window in the pilot's door that I was just able to get the lens through. The buffeting was greater than ideal and meant that slightly faster shutter speeds than I'd like needed to be employed, so the slower shutter stuff had to be taken through the green tinted windows, but this came out pretty well in the post-processing.

After an orbit over the town we were done and headed back to Cranfield for tea and medals.

Terry's got a couple of other aircraft on his books that he'd like photographing, so when they're off their annuals we'll be back for another go.

The following evening was our night-time visit to DHL's incredible East Midlands Airport hub, where manager, Danny Pedri, spent the best part of three hours showing and telling us about their incredible operation. More of that in next week's push.

As Gareth mentioned in his last offering, once again I'm delighted to be involved with the 'appeal' in support of 1419 Flt to try to make their time deployed a little more bearable. If you'd like to send them some goodies please drop us a line using the 'Contact Us' form (link at the top). It makes our life a lot easier if we're able to verify who you are, so including the username that we may know you by from one of the internet forums will help speed the process up.

Phil Whalley from the Vulcan Restoration Trust has requested that we spread the word regarding their "Christmas Enthusiast Event" to be held on the 5th of December.

Funds raised from the event will help towards the continued preservation of 'The Southend Vulcan', based at Southend airport, and Jonathon "Flapjack" Whaley, perhaps best known as the owner-pilot of Hawker Hunter, G-PSST, "Miss Demeanour", will be guest speaking.

The Event will take place at the Hawkwell Village Hall, Main Road, Hockley, Essex, SS5 4EH, will start at 1200 and finish at 1700. Please note that the event is advance ticket only at a cost of £10 each for adults and £5 each for children aged 5 to 15. Under-5s are free. A buffet lunch is included in the price.

Tickets can be ordered by post from the following address:

VRT Christmas Buffet, Treetops, Woodham Road, Battlesbridge, Essex SS11 7QW.

Cheques should be made payable to VRT Enterprises Limited. Please include an SAE with your application. The closing date for application is 28 November.

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