Shaun Schofield's 2012 blogGAR Entries

DEC 18 2012
blogGAR: RNAS Yeovilton

I attended last year’s autumn open day at Cobham Hall, which was covered in depth in issue four of Global Aviation Magazine. However, when the chance presents itself, it’s always nice to have a good nosy around what are, largely, rarely seen aircraft in the Reserve Collection, especially as there have been plenty of aircraft moved between it and the main museum, offering a chance to shoot some of the Collection’s aircraft in different surroundings.

My day at Yeovilton actually began on the fence in hope of catching some of the based helicopters in action before Cobham Hall opened. As it happened, the day started relatively quietly. Only a local Hawk and Lynx came and went respectively before a visiting Army Defender landed, turning off the runway early and staying well out of camera range, frustratingly living up to the type’s elusive reputation. After only a short stay at the fence, the lack of activity and worsening weather provided our cue to head over to Cobham Hall.

Many of the aircraft in the main museum have been moved over to Cobham Hall following the opening of the 30th anniversary Falklands exhibition in the summer. The star of these, in my eyes at least, and taking pride of place at the end of the hall was ‘Dirty Harry.’ It still feels a little surreal seeing a Harrier in the museum, but he’s looking far healthier than those that have ended up in America. I was hoping the Wyvern that the Harrier had originally displaced would be just as well positioned, but sadly that was not the case, with a gaggle of Lynx and Wasps preventing any sort of shot of it.

After a good bimble around the hall, it was time to head over to the main museum, primarily to view the Falklands exhibits. After allowing a biblical shower to pass, I took the opportunity to photograph the trio of Sea Harriers that were conveniently parked outside the museum.

Inside, the exhibition consists of seven aircraft, all of which are veterans of the conflict. Supplementing the familiar pair of Sea Harriers and Sea King, which have been resident in the museum for a number of years now, are two Wessex, a Lynx and an immaculate A109, resplendent in Argentine markings. This particular airframe was captured and subsequently used by the British during the war. One of the more famous airframes on display is Wessex HAS3 ‘Humphrey’ which still carries its war wounds, being completely peppered with bullet holes on its starboard side. Humphrey is complemented by a Wessex HU5, a relatively recent restoration that looks fantastic in its Commando colour scheme. Replacing the Lynx HAS2 is an HAS3, a recent addition to the museum, and a veteran of the first Gulf War, as well as the Falklands.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent back on the fence as we moved back over to the south side of the airfield. By now the weather had improved vastly, with the showers long gone, replaced by autumnal sunshine. The light was pretty much spot on, which made it all the more frustrating to have missed the departing Defender by no more than 30 seconds. Nevertheless, the locals kept my trigger finger going as several of the Lynx and Sea Kings departing for Merryfield whilst others returned to the airfield.

After a good hour or so, things quietened down and it was nearing the point where we’d call it a day. Hanging on for a further ten minutes proved a wise choice, as the Defender called up once more, entering the circuit and performing a touch and go before a full stop landing, a much welcome bonus to bag what is a rare visitor to Yeovilton.

Soon to be a much more common sight is the Wildcat, with several now based at VL working up to their service entry. One of these airframes flew through between the Defender's approaches before settling down on the south dispersal. Soon after, the light began to fade, and with more aircraft now arriving than departing, it was finally time to call it a day.

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