Shaun Schofield's 2012 blogGAR Entries

MAR 26 2012
blogGAR: Hawker Hunter Aviation (HHA) at RNAS Yeovilton

As luck would have it, I managed to book off the right day for a change, with a pair of the Hunters scheduled to fly two serials during the day, which just so happened to have a favourable forecast. Someone was smiling down on me, or so I thought, as upon our arrival to the 09 end at Yeovilton, the weather was gloomy and overcast. Things didn’t get better; the RHAG at our end went up, with the two Hunters and a local Hawk turning onto Runway 27 at the far end of the airfield for an unexpected downwind take off. Fortunately, the aircraft kept low enough to get shots at our end of the airfield, but it was a little frustrating.

With a degree of uncertainty as to which direction they would arrive from, we repositioned ourselves on Pyle Lane, to ensure a good shot at them regardless of which runway they would use. An hour and a half later, the three jets returned, this time on Runway 09 and in the glorious sunshine that had taken the place of the earlier cloud. Whilst the jets were out, several of the based Lynx, Sea Kings, Tutors and an additional Hawk kept us entertained; even the Royal Navy Historic Flight teased us by pulling the Swordfish out of the hangar to get some sun, only to tow her back in a short while later.

After the Hunters' arrival, and with a good couple of hours free until their next sortie, a quick visit to the Fleet Air Arm Museum was in order to shoot the collection's newest resident, Harrier GR.9A ZD433. The jet has been left untouched since its retirement, still covered in the filth from service life that has earned it the nickname ‘Dirty Harry.’ In keeping with the museum's policy of displaying authentic, operational schemes, the jet will remain in this condition permanently.

After shooting the Harrier, it was back to the lane, just in time to hear the Hunters start up, taxy past and depart for their afternoon sortie, accompanied a little later by the pair of Hawks that had been equally as busy during the morning. A lull in the proceedings, excluding the seemingly tireless Tutors, gave plenty of time to head down the 27 end ahead of the jets’ arrival in hope of gaining some additional angles of the jets taxying back to their dispersal. One of the Hawks returned first, followed shortly after by the two Hunters. Whilst the T.8 decided to land on, the F.58 went for a bit of a jolly, performing two overshoots before landing on the third and final approach. The arrival of the second Hawk brought an end to the fast operations for the day, which in turn signalled the end of our day too.

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2012-03-26 - Shaun Schofield
Thanks Mark. I couldn't be 100% sure on your question, but I would assume so. XX281 departed with them for the morning sortie, whilst XX330 departed later and stayed nearby to VL. Both Hawks departed after the Hunters in the afternoon, but they all arrived around the same time, so I'd say it was likely. Hope that helps!

2012-03-26 - Mark Russell
Great report Shaun - as I have said elsewhere superb angles on the Hunters at the 27 end. Did you pick up any snippets whether the Hawks actually operated with the Hunters?

2012-03-26 - Shaun Schofield
Thanks for the comment. All shots were taken using a Canon EF 100-400L IS USM lens on an EOS 7D body. Hope that helps.

2012-03-26 - Francois A. 'Navman'
Curious about the 'glass' you are using? Awesome photos, thank you !

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