Karl Drage's 2010 blogGAR Entries

FEB 17 2010
What 2010 has in store

Well it's been a while since I've had anything to share with you all. As anybody living in the Midlands will testify, the weather in the main has been pretty uninspiring of late, with just brief periods of sunshine and grey skies and various forms of precipitation dominating proceedings. Consequently the desire to get out with the camera has been particularly low.

In fact, the only time the camera's been out of the bag in the last four weeks was when Gareth and I visited Air Atlantique's Classic Flight at Coventry. Sadly it seems that the airport's future once again hangs in the balance following the news this week that Airport Development Partners, who had been conducting due diligence on a proposed takeover, have concluded that the risk/reward ratio's not sufficiently in their favour. Quite what the next step is remains to be seen, but it goes without saying that we hope the outcome's a positive one for the airport and its operators.

Phil Dawe and RAF Northolt are well into the planning stages for Nightshoot VI, scheduled to take place on Thursday, 25th March, between approximately 1830 and 2030. As things stand, subject to the usual caveats regarding serviceability, weather and operational commitments, the line-up includes a Mirage 2000D from EC3.003 "Ardennes", a Chinook HC.3, CL415/S-2T from Securite Civil, what's planned to be the first public outing for the 2010 RAF Hawk Display scheme and no less than three Tornado GR.4s from 41 Sqn, who will hopefully all be carrying commemorative three letter codes to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

As always, proceeds from this event will go towards the renovation efforts on Building 27, the Battle of Britain Ops Room. If anyone requires more details on how to attend, please use the 'Contact Us' link at the top and we'll ensure that it gets passed on to Phil.

Just six days later, the RAF will wave goodbye to the Nimrod MR.2, No IV(AC) Sqn will be stood down at RAF Cottesmore and the number plate will be transferred to the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at Wittering, currently badged as 20 Sqn. Additionally a further two VC-10s will be retired from service. If you've not got those shots in the bag, now's the time to do so, before it's too late.

While the weather's been so grim we've been taking advantage of the situation and cracking on with planning for the year ahead. As was mentioned above, 2010 is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and marking the occasion is at the forefront of our plans. The intention is to launch a microsite dedicated solely to our coverage of the campaign, and the goal is to be the leading online resource for features about the Battle and commemorations in this significant year; this will be above and beyond our regular Tuesday updates.

During the first week of February we visited the new OC BBMF, Sqn Ldr Ian Smith, to discuss exactly what it is that we'd like to do with them, and, with his blessing received, were sent away to seek approval from the MoD's Media and Communications department - without which we'd be unable to follow through our plans. I'm delighted to report that, after a series of telephone conversations and email chains, approval was received late last week.

On to more pressing matters, later this week Gareth and I are off to visit 29 Sqn at RAF Coningsby and a couple of weeks after that we're due to head to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to find out about 1 FTS and to get the latest news on the 2010 RAF Tucano Display. There's plenty of other good stuff in the pipeline too that we're awaiting confirmed dates for, and covering a variety of different angles too. Planning's also underway for a GAR staff raid to France, focussed around La Ferte Alais in May.

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