Shaun Schofield's 2012 blogGAR Entries

MAY 29 2012
blogGAR: Shaun's May Review - RNAS Yeovilton and Op Wyvern Tor

Sunday 13th May saw me make the short trip down the road to Okehampton Camp for the final day of the Ten Tors event on Dartmoor. Operation Wyvern Tor is the name given to the exercise that sees the Royal Navy traditionally provide aircraft to support the Ten Tors Challenge event, clearing up the various checkpoints along the courses and offering SAR, if necessary. This year, as is customary, the aircraft provided incorporated a pair of Sea King HC.4s, including the photogenic ‘Arctic’ Commando schemed cab, and a solitary Lynx HMA.8.

Having perched myself up on the side of a hill overlooking the finish line and the helicopter landing area, there was a wait of a couple of hours before the first action of the day, giving me a chance to enjoy the stunning scenery and bask in the rare, but very welcome, sunshine. In fact, conditions were just about spot on, with only the occasional cloud obscuring the sun, and thankfully not too often.

The Lynx was the first to depart on a task, kick-starting an afternoon of pretty much non-stop action, as the three aircraft flew sortie after sortie, returning with a cabin full of passengers and / or underslung loads. It provided a rare opportunity to see the helicopters actually working, rather than performing at airshows or undertaking the more routine training at Yeovilton that I’m more accustomed to seeing. With a vantage point high above the helicopter’s landing area, combined with the beautiful scenery, the event offers some unique photographic opportunities, aided by some very sporty departures right over the heads of the gathered photographers, all of which made for a superb way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The following Saturday saw the Queen’s Jubilee Flypast take place over Windsor Castle, with RNAS Yeovilton hosting the multitude of Hawks that would form the E II R segment of the flypast. With more than 30 Hawks taking up temporary residence on the South Dispersal, it would have been rude not head down to the local and take advantage.

Despite indifferent forecasts, early signs were good, with a few breaks in the cloud providing a brief interval of sunshine, lightening up the lines of Hawks out on the pan superbly. That, as it turned out, would be our lot, with pretty dull, overcast conditions prevailing for the rest of the morning, making photography a little trickier than I’d have liked. Nevertheless, to see so many jets lined up on the pan was a sight in itself, and as the familiar deep note of the Hawks' APUs rang around the airfield as the aircraft started up, the excitement started to build before the aircraft taxied out and departed.

First out were the T.2s, many resplendent in their IV Squadron markings, which were to make up the ‘E’ in the formation. These were followed by FRADU and 100 Sqn T.1s, which would make up the ‘II’. These were led out by the new 100 Sqn special jet, wearing the colours of a Second World War RAF bomber; a classy scheme and a fitting acknowledgement of the Squadron’s history. Last to leave was a stream of 208 Sqn T.1s that would form the ‘R’, some of which were still wearing their old 19 Sqn markings.

An hour or so after the Hawks had departed, the formation whip returned, along with a pair of Lynx, Merlins and Sea Kings that had also taken part in the flypast, providing a welcome bonus ahead of the planned arrival of what we understood would be a dozen or so Hawks. As it transpired, most of the jets returned to Brize Norton, or went straight home to Valley, with only the pair of 19 Sqn marked jets returning to Yeovilton. By this time, I had planned to head around to Pyle Lane for some alternative angles, but had to jump out early at the 09 end of the runway, as we spotted them arriving. Shortly after their arrival, the three spare T.2s that had remained at Yeovilton also departed for Valley, bringing an end to the afternoon’s proceedings. Whilst conditions might not have been ideal for much of the day, it was great to see Yeovilton bristling with so many jets, evoking memories of the good old days at the base.

Although the airshow season can’t come around quickly enough, it’s always enjoyable to get out and about with the camera and take advantage of alternative opportunities.

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2012-05-29 - Lewis Gaylard
Nice report, i must have been stood next to you for most of those photos........was a good day.

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