As many of you will have already seen in Issue 18 of Global Aviation Magazine, I visited IV(R) Squadron at RAF Valley in February and spent a fair chunk of time outside the wire too. While the vast majority of the better Hawk T2 images were published there, some of the leftovers feature here, together with shots of other types that were active.
It’s fair to describe Anglesey’s weather as a microclimate at the best of times, but, from talking to the locals as well as serving personnel, it was clear that this winter had hit them hard. In fact, it sounded like some kind of miracle that there was any flying taking place over that two-day period at all. Just a day earlier, the wind had put paid to any fixed wing flying, while snow and ice had caused havoc in the preceding weeks.
So, when the weather did start to break, it seemed logical that there would be plenty of flying going on; there is, after all, only so much you can achieve in the sim!
Runway 01 was in use initially, which I’m told is something of a rarity. That meant that aircraft were taking off and landing towards the viewing area close to the Main Gate. Proceedings were dominated by the Hawk T2s of IV(R) Squadron and with a smattering of Hawk T1s of the recently revived 208(R) Squadron and the odd SAR Sea King thrown in for good measure.
After a fairly significant number of arrivals they switched to Runway 32, with landings at Rhosneigr. Aside from a few rotary movements, it was a fairly lengthy wait before anything taxied out…
It looked really promising for some multiple aircraft taxi shots, and one of the IV(R) Sqn specials led out a pair, but they never arrived! They had changed back to Runway 01, which meant a really long walk around the dunes to the approach, but the location and pictures on offer meant it was well worth it!
The sun was really in and out – more ‘in’ when anything actually happened, sadly! – and the sunset that seemed to have potential for a while eventually petered out into a bit of a damp squib.
All told though, the day was probably not far off being as good as you could have hoped for at Valley in February!
Day 2 started with the visit to IV(R) Squadron, which you can read all about in the aforementioned Issue 18 of GAM.
Suffice it to say, the light in the hangar of the new Moran Building is superb, while the light outside got progressively worse! At the end of the visit, the aircrew at IV(R) Squadron were fully expecting a halt to be called to flying for the day but that never came.
Runway 32 was once again in use, so a return trip to the dunes at Rhosneigr was the first port of call.
A Chinook lobbed in for fuel and Cyril Williams, one of the locals, advised that they often taxi out to the 19 threshold to depart, so that’s where we headed. The heavens opened just in time for its departure and we absolutely froze but I think it was worth it.
A further runway change occurred later in the afternoon, this time with Runway 19 becoming active. A dash to the location known as ‘Fraggle Rock’ took place, but the light was decidedly ropey and there wasn’t masses going on, so an early finish was called for.