Karl Drage's 2011 blogGAR Entries

MAR 11 2011
Long time no see!

I've just realised that it's nearly four months since my last blogGAR entry! For that I apologise, but aside from collating content for GAR articles, I've not been up to much.

The big event from the back end of last year was obviously the retirement of the Harrier, and I was genuinely gutted for everyone at Cottesmore that the weather didn't co-operate for those final drawdown events. That said, I do consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to get on to both Cottesmore and Wittering in the last few days of operation.

The camera's next outing didn't come until the 12th of January, when Gareth and I had a meeting with Cotswold Airport's Operations Manager, Glen Moreman. The weather was horrible. Rainy, windy and cold, but as I pulled up behind the tower I looked across the airfield and spotted a Griffin flashing into life. Braving the conditions I plucked the camera from the bag and threw on my coat. I'm not sure it was worth the effort, but at least it provided some action for one of my camera bodies!

A couple of trips to RAF Cranwell ensued the following week, determined as I was to see the Dominie out of service. Fortunately, the first visit coincided with a truly stunning January day and a six-ship formation sortie. The weather for the final day of operations was nowhere near as good, so I was genuinely delighted to have come away with what I did two days earlier.

Then, as you may have read, I was invited out to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates to cover the show for the display organisers as their official photographer. I flew out on Monday, January 31st and returned a week later. With the weather and red tape, things didn't go quite as smoothly as they might have done, but it was still a very worthwhile experience all the same - and saw me undertake my first fast jet ride!

I came back from the UAE feeling rather worse for wear. After two trips to see my doctor I was told I'd got 'some sort of respiratory tract infection', which wasn't very pleasant at all… Fortunately, some three weeks or so after the symptoms appeared, they began to retreat, and I'm feeling much better now.

With the 2011 airshow season approaching at a rate of knots, Gareth and I began our tour of RAF bases, geared to meeting up with the people set to be wowing the crowds throughout the summer months. The first of such visits took place last week when we returned to 1 EFTS at RAF Cranwell, this time to catch up with Flt Lt Shaun Kimberley, this year's designated Tutor Display Pilot. More on that in an upcoming update.

The tour rolls on to RAF Linton-On-Ouse in a couple of weeks' time, where we're set to meet Flt Lt Dan Hayes, 1 FTS' intended Tucano Display Pilot.

So that's the trips out dealt with, but there's been lots of other stuff happening behind the scenes at GAR.

As some of you may have seen, Steve Bridgewater has been installed as the editor on relaunched magazine, "Jets Monthly", which is now being published by Kelsey Publishing. Issue 2 hit the shelves a couple of weeks ago and, all being well, it looks like the GAR team is set to provide content on a fairly regular basis, which is nice!

The association with Jets is one of the reasons that we've decided to take the GAR brand onto the next level, and it's our intention to launch a commercial arm in the coming weeks, offering professional services to the airshow industry and beyond.

Another planned development will see, wherever appropriate, the ability for GAR visitors to purchase prints and other collectables of imagery contained within our articles.

In more general 'GAR News', we look forward to formally welcoming on-board three new members of the team too, all of whom have contributed to the site in some way, shape or form in the past.

I'm sure you won't have to wait quite so long for my next offering, but for now, so long!

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