Karl Drage's 2010 blogGAR Entries

MAY 10 2010
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something (partly) blue

It's been another busy few weeks for the GAR team and, predictably, the weather's taken a turn for the worse. I can't help but wonder whether it might be time that somebody took a bit of a flyer and arranged an airshow for earlier on in April. For the last few years it's seemed as if the best of our weather has come in the period that currently precedes the start of the UK airshow season. Of course, the moment anybody does dare to do so we'll undoubtedly see a return to the weather more commonly associated with that month - sunshine and showers!

I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever been as cold at an airshow as I was at Abingdon on the first Sunday in May! Of course, the show's organisers had a few extra things to worry about other than the weather, with Defence Estates having issued a license that prohibited fixed wing operations from the airfield just a matter of days before the event itself….

On the Tuesday of the week before the show, I headed to Bruntingthorpe to catch the arrival of XV226, the Nimrod MR.2 destined to join the Cold War Jets Collection there. I elected to stay outside the wire in the hope that there might be a few more approaches flown than there ultimately were. It was still great to see an MR.2 in the air, and it'll almost certainly be my last….

The very next day Gareth and I were due to meet up with the XV(R) Squadron Tornado GR.4 Role Demo crews at RAF Coningsby, ahead of their PDA (Public Display Authorisation) the next day. Sadly we were already on the road before word reached us that they'd had to delay their arrival until PDA day itself.

Despite the flat, thoroughly uninspiring skies we vowed to carry on and decided we'd spend a couple of hours at RAF Cranwell before heading over to Coningsby, where we hoped to catch Flt Lt Tim Clement practicing his 2010 RAF Typhoon Display routine.

On arrival at Cranwell it soon became apparent that they were using the cross-runway - something I'd not shot them doing before. Having found the perfect spot to park and taken a walk further down towards the approach, a steady stream of traffic ensued before, some 90 minutes after we'd arrived, security paid us a visit and moved us on! It was time for us to leave anyway, so we collected up our things and walked back to our respective vehicles.

During the drive to Coningsby the light actually, somehow, managed to get worse! There was one place that I really wanted to watch TC's display rehearsal from and that was the lane that runs down towards the XI(F) Squadron HAS site.

The departure that had looked so confusing on the wall of the Display Team office suddenly started to make sense! While all the rules are in place to keep the crowd as safe as possible in the event that anything should go wrong, nothing quite beats the experience of being stood directly underneath a fast jet display, and TC's is no different in that regard. There's lots of high-energy turning and burning and a spectacular negative-G turn where vapour actual formed on the underside of the aircraft! The only thing that was missing was any semblance of decent light! It's impossible to escape from the fact that, as sharp as the images may be, they're still pretty horrible!!

On Thursday of last week, Gareth and I headed out to Oxfordshire to visit first Peter Vacher and his immaculate Battle of Britain veteran Hurricane Mk1, R4118/G-HUPW, and secondly the workshops of Pete Wells of Swift Aerobatic Team and Twister Duo fame.

It doesn't take the brains of Einstein to work out why we were so keen to visit Peter Vacher, particularly in this year, and a full feature will appear on our Battle of Britain microsite in due course

We had planned to catch up with Pete Wells and the rest of the Swift Team at Abingdon, but those plans were obviously scuppered by the ban on fixed wing movements. While with him we got the full lowdown on the Twister Duo's incredible airshow debut in Turkmenistan, as well as discovering more about Zulu Glasstek - the glider repair company that Pete runs. Again, look out for the two pieces coming out of the visit in the coming weeks.

Over the weekend I received another request from a GAR reader enquiring into the possibility of us running a practical photography day. Until recently I'd never really believed there'd be any demand for it, but some of the feedback we've heard recently suggests otherwise. As a direct consequence we plan to contact some of the operators we now call friends to see what scope there might be for setting up a special 'GAR Photographic Day' or two.

Assuming we are able to set something up and the cost's not prohibitively expensive, how many of you would be interested in taking part? You can use the 'Contact Us' form to send us a message or just use the 'Comment' facility on this page.

Before I sign off I'd like to take this opportunity to wish fellow team-member, Paul Dunn, all the very best for Saturday when he's set to marry his fiancée, Rachel. I hope they'll be very happy together!

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2010-05-11 - Philip Padley
Firstly best wishes to Paul for Saturday

I would also be interested in this Karl

2010-05-11 - Andrew Stevens
Good Afternoon,
I would certainly be more than interested in attending a photographic workshop day, can you include me in any more info concerning this.
Many Thanks,
Bournemouth Hurn
( as seen on TV )

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