Karl Drage's 2011 blogGAR Entries

MAY 16 2011
blogGAR: GAR's Second Birthday

As hard as it is for me to believe, tomorrow will be GAR's second birthday. In that time, somewhat subconsciously, it's crafted mine and Gareth's weekly, and to an extent, daily routines. It's hard work arranging visits, sorting out the pictures and writing the text, planning what content's going to run when, getting the pages put together and proofed and so on. None of it just happens. But it was, until last week at least, hugely satisfying to be able to sit down at lunchtime on a Tuesday and be ready to push the button and make all of what we'd been working on, sometimes for weeks on end, available to you all.

The one negative aspect of updating religiously on a Tuesday was that it didn't give us enough time to get content together for events happening the previous weekend. There were just too many things to pull together in a very short space of time. So, slightly reluctantly, as you've hopefully already picked up on, we've made the decision to spread our updates out over the course of the week. You'll still be getting just as much as you were before, but what it'll mean is that we're able to deliver news and airshow content to you in a more timely manner and, crucially, while it's still newsworthy.

Tomorrow is a massive day for us. Not only is it our birthday, it's also the day where we will launch two significant new additions to the GAR package - and I'm not talking team members! I'd be lying if I said that we weren't hugely excited about one of them in particular! With your support it has the potential to become something rather special. Tune in tomorrow lunchtime when all will be revealed!

So, what else has been going on? As you've now seen, Gareth and I have been off to RAF Linton-on-Ouse and RAF Valley, meeting up with Flt Lt Dan Hayes, 2011 Royal Air Force Tucano Display Pilot, and Flt Lt Jules Fleming, 2011 Royal Air Force Hawk Display Pilot, respectively. Here are a few of the images that didn't quite make the final cut from those visits:

I also managed a couple of days at RAF Mildenhall, unsuccessfully chasing the Ospreys that were deployed. Hopefully the talk of them taking up residence will prove to be correct! Even without them flying, there was still quite a bit going on, helped no end by the 100th ARW's support of operations in Libya.

Other GAR visits have taken us to RAF Benson (Merlin Force update to follow) and AAC Middle Wallop (Apache Display article to follow), as well as attending XIII Squadron's final flying day as a Tornado operator - though the Squadron's future has been assured in the last few days with the news that it'll return rather sooner than expected as a Reaper squadron based at RAF Waddington.

Finally, Abingdon Air & Country Show was my 2011 airshow season opener. Given the forecast earlier in the week, I really felt for organiser, Neil Porter, but, as it turned out, he could have hardly asked for better conditions - and that, and the presence of the Vulcan, helped to ensure that a bumper crowd was in attendance, meaning that the Show will be able to give a healthy donation to the charities it supports.

Looking ahead, what else is on my radar right now? Well, I had hoped to get an air-to-air sortie in during the past couple of weeks but a combination of weather and unserviceability has delayed that. All being well that will be righted in the not-too-distant-future, and additionally we're hoping to catch up with Team Viper during the Team's pre-season work-up - it is the Hunter's 60th birthday this year, after all!

All that leaves me to do is to thank you all for your support in our first two years of existence. I sincerely hope there'll be many more birthdays to come!

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