Karl Drage's 2010 blogGAR Entries

SEP 12 2010
Old favourites and a new one too

The story starts the day after my last entry as the Drage clan made their way south to Dawlish Air Show 2010. With it being a 450 mile round trip it's become something of a ritual for us to stay down there overnight the day before and on the day of the show itself, and, after a nightmare journey to that point (something which would also apply to our return passage!) we spent a couple of hours on Salisbury Plain on the way down.

We only got one piece of trade, but it was a really nice one; the current Middle Wallop-resident Bell 212, ZK206.

After pressing on an excellent evening was had at the auction benefiting the air show and I somehow managed to part with £70 for a Team Merlin flying suit… Still, it was all for the cause!

The forecast for the show day itself was grim. In fact it was worse than grim. A significant band of rain was expected to push east during the day, arriving at Dawlish bang on cue for the start of the flying display. As it turned out we were quite lucky, but only in the sense that it was much drier than forecast. The sun never really put in an appearance at any stage, sadly, but all things considered the lineup was excellent. Seeing the Lancaster completely sea-locked for one pass, the Air Southwest Dash 8 display, the rotary movements and the Red Arrows still managed to make the journey well worthwhile.

The fantastic news emerging after the show was that more than £10K had been collected on the day - a massive improvement in the 2009 figure of £1600! That also fails to take into account the programme sales on the day and the money raised at the auction the night prior to the show. I'm sure everyone will agree that that is a brilliant start for the funding drive ahead of Air Show 2011 and I know organiser Kev Wills will use it wisely.

As an aside, for anybody that's not seen, Friends of Dawlish Air Show memberships can be purchased online this at www.dawlishairshow.co.uk/fodas/apply.html

Three days after Dawlish it was time for one of my favourite airshows on the circuit, partly because it's my closest airshow venue, but mainly because it's a bloody good show, run in aid of a damned fine cause. I of course refer to Sywell and hopefully many of you will have read the review that I put together on the 2010 event already.

As you may have seen referenced in Gareth's most recent blogGAR entry, we were invited along to Benson Families Day by our good friend MACR Gareth Attridge, and, while the weather was pretty horrible for the vast majority of the day, there were a few nice photographic opportunities early doors. It's such a shame that the weather in this country, which decimated the fly-in part of the day, has no respect for the amount of time and effort invested into putting on an event such as this….

The undoubted UK highlight of the season for me was attending Dunsfold's Wings & Wheels show with Team Merlin (the reason for doing so will become clear eventually, we promise!), and what a cracking show it was too. I'll be honest, prior to a few days beforehand I couldn't have even told you where Dunsfold was, let alone ever having been there before.

We were treated to some pretty special access over the course of the bank holiday weekend and it yielded some of my favourite imagery for a very long time - certainly domestic fare - though I'm afraid you are going to have to wait to see the bulk of it!

It was also a real eye-opener to see the impact that Team Merlin's efforts to engage with the general public had. I'll be honest, during an airshow I tend to spend the vast majority of my time on or close to the crowdline, but this whole weekend was all rather different. The steady stream of visitors over the course of the two days to a man loved the opportunity to see the Merlin up close and to talk to the crew (operations, engineering and aircrew were all represented) about their work and ongoing operational efforts; engagement in its purest form, and a real credit to all involved.

It was with a heavy heart that I reluctantly conceded that I simply couldn't afford the time to attend Duxford's Battle of Britain Show last weekend which on paper looked to be rather special and, by all accounts, even managed to exceed expectations of those who did get there. I suspect I'm going to be regretting that for a long time, but the harsh reality is that you can't do everything.

A visit to RAF Coningsby this week did go some way towards making up for that disappointment though as we spent some quality time with the BBMF and later 41(R) Sqn and their Battle of Britain Veterans' event. More on that in an upcoming microsite update though.

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