Last month the Cold War Jets Collection at Bruntingthorpe held its first open day of 2013. Gordon Jones attended the event for GAR.
Whilst most of my warbird loving GAR colleagues had headed over to Duxford for the Spring Air Show at the end of May, I headed over to Bruntingthorpe for a fix of loud and smoky aircraft that for the most part no longer grace our skies.
It had been three years since I last visited an open day at the Cold War Jets collection and I decided to go at the last minute. Setting off early to miss the traditional queues to get in, I was greeted by an increasingly sunny day as I arrived a little after 09.00.
These events always deliver a different experience to an airshow, and I’m not referring to the aircraft staying (or hopefully staying!) on the ground when I say that. It has always been a relaxed affair with a real ‘club event’ feeling to it. At previous events it hasn’t been unusual for timings and even the running order to change as the day went along. The age and complexity of the aircraft being run, along with the mix of individually owned, lodger, team-owned and the aircraft from the Cold War Jets collection plays a part in this I’m sure.
My first port of call was the VC10 packed up on the hard-standing closes to the entrance. The aircraft was one of many that had been flown into Bruntingthorpe after being withdrawn from service by the RAF. Unlike the others, this particular example won’t be stripped for parts. Dave Walton, the eldest brother of the Walton family who own Bruntingthorpe and the Cold War Jets collection, is in the process of acquiring it for inclusion in the Cold War Jets collection, but like the Nimrod MR2 that was being transferred from the RAF to Dave Walton the last time I was here, the paperwork hadn’t been completed in time for it to fast taxi at this event. Some of you may have noticed it is also missing an engine as well. When the ‘missing’ engine is replaced and paperwork complete, the VC10 will join the rest of the collection and take part in future events.
As I walked down to the crowdline, located close to the side of the runway, I noticed things had changed since my last visit. The crowdline, rather than stopping at the first taxiway, had been extended beyond the taxiway and into the next section of grass. At previous events people had been gravitating down there anyway, so it was good to see it all marked out as an official area. This much-extended crowdline also served to spread everyone out and it felt considerably less packed, despite the large attendance. Finding a space was easy and I even moved to two other places along the crowdline with relative ease as the day went on, something I wouldn’t have even attempted previously.
The event started on time with a pair of Jet Provosts. Like previous events, the aircraft slowly taxied down the far side of the runway and then performed a 180 degree turn to taxi back to the ‘start line’, giving the crowd plenty of chances to get a good look, and photos, of the aircraft from both sides. Once they have completed their parade they line up again and then perform the fast taxi run down the one mile runway before slowly taxing back again.
Running this time were the Jet Provosts, Buccaneer, Lightning (the second Lightning had only recently finished an overhaul, but without enough time to complete testing to make it), Canberra, Comet, Nimrod, Hunter, Victor, Iskra and Delphin. The Iskra made its first run on my last visit so it was good to see that, but this time it teamed up with the Delphin which was making its first run. For this reason, the pair appeared twice in the day. All the aircraft ran in order and I was further impressed to see them all run to time, with minimal delays. The entire operation looked very slick and the amount of thought that had gone into the day was apparent when it was announced that the Nimrod MR2 had been given an earlier running slot to allow it to be repositioned back on the public side of the airfield so that visitors would have a chance to have a look inside.
Thankfully the winds were within limits to allow a BBMF Spitfire to put in a couple passes on its way back to RAF Coningsby and this wasn’t the only flying aircraft for the event. A surprise visit by a Jet Provost Mk 52 in the form of G-PROV (XS228) from Swords Aviation, which is based at North Weald, landed after a quick flypast and departed after the event. This particular Jet Provost is an interesting aircraft as it was one of only a few JPs that were armed, but not classed as a Strikemaster! The aircraft spent much of its life serving in the South Yemen Air Force, coded 104, and since 2006 has been back in those colours. A great looking scheme and I’m not sure how I have managed to miss seeing it before.
I honestly hadn’t expected this event to have changed much from my previous visits but the changes have all worked well, whilst retaining the atmosphere of the event.
A big well done to all involved!
The next CWJ open day will be held on Sunday 25 August 2013 and should feature both Lightnings and the VC10 taking part.