Karl Drage's 2009 blogGAR Entries

DEC 05 2009
One of Those Days...

Monday represented my first genuinely 'clear' day for more than three weeks and, with the Beeb suggesting that the outlook was set to improve as the day went on, Mikey Hind and I arranged to spend the afternoon at RAF Cottesmore.

What I'd not banked on was waking up to crystal clear skies - something that hadn't been predicted until quite a bit later in the day. So having taken Sammy to school we brought forward our rendezvous an hour in order to take advantage of the conditions.

Driving round to the approach lights at the runway 22 end I did become more than a tad concerned by the lack of a runway caravan and, when Mikey joined me a couple of minutes later, my concerns were confirmed; it was at the 04 end. Anyone who knows Cottesmore will tell you that that's disastrous. The respecting views of the farmers at either end of the airfield could not be more contrasting, and, to be fair, even if the 04 chap were more accommodating, it's still not even remotely close to being as good a location.

We both commented that the wind was as close to being a perfect cross-wind as it could be and that we were just unlucky, but the bottom line was that neither of us felt it was going to be worth our while to hang around, so the only question to be asked was where should we go instead...

At the time the decision seemed obvious. I'd not been to RAF Coningsby since the Jaguars left (early-summer 2007), and you can always rely on the place being busy, right?

We pulled up in the car park at the BBMF end at 1200, just as four Typhoons were taxying out to the 27 end. With the light being predominantly of that lovely golden kind we figured we'd get some head-on shots of them turning off the runway on recovery, before heading down to the approach end at the end of the day, hopeful of getting some sunset action.

Well, those four aircraft got airborne, followed closely by a single 41(R) Sqn Tornado GR.4 and nothing else happened for the next hour until a further pair of Typhoons taxied out.

Another thirty minute wait ensued before the first four Typhoons arrived back into the circuit at essentially the same time. Rather annoyingly the first pair, 17(R) Sqn jets, were able to exit at the runway intersection, way before they got close to us, but the next two did come our way. The sun - which was now spending as much time obscured as it was out - even played ball.

We'd decided we wanted to be at the approach end by 1500 and so set a deadline of being in our cars for 1445. Rather worryingly though, the time was ticking round and, aside from the remaining pair of Typhoons and the GR.4, nothing else was out. There's no point having a sunset if there are no aircraft to photograph in it!

At 1430 we were given hope as a three-ship of 29(R) Sqn jets took to the skies. A 60-75 minute sortie would potentially give us a chance.

Somewhat predictably, having made 50 metres or so of the journey back towards our cars, the brace that were still out appeared on the approach. Naturally we stopped to shoot them; the movements having been in such short supply...

When we arrived at the 27 end we were the only ones there; a far cry from how it was when Typhoon was new and Jaguars and F.3s still played a part in the daily proceedings.

The clouds in the area began to look more threatening and it wasn't long before the sun was completely obscured, never to be seen again that day. We even had a little rain, though neither of us would've been surprised if it had have fallen as snow, such was the air temperature.

The absence of a sunset was counteracted by the presence of a full moon and, while it was a little high in the sky, it was possible to use it as a backdrop when the three remaining Typhoons finally recovered. The GR.4 never did return while we were there…

All in all a disappointing day and, to add insult to injury, it would seem that Cottesmore switched runways after we'd headed to Coningsby!

Suffice it to say, Monday, November 30th has been filed under "One of those days"…

The same could not be said of the following Thursday which saw RAF Northolt host the fifth edition of their Nightshoot series, designed to raise funds for the restoration of Building 27, the Battle of Britain Ops Room. A full report will follow in Tuesday's main site update.

GAR wants to interact with its readers so if you have a question for the author or a comment to make on this feature, please click on the button below. The best comments will appear right here on GAR.

Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /var/sites/g/globalaviationresource.com/public_html/comments/displaycomments.php on line 8

Global Aviation Resource's photographic and written work is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without express written permission.

If you would like to discuss using any of our imagery or feature content please contact us.