It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the iconic shape of the Blackburn Buccaneer left the RAF inventory, but that’s what the celebrations were all about on Saturday 29th March at Bruntinghtorpe airfield, near Leicestershire. With unseasonably mild temperatures, blue skies and sunshine, both models belonging to the Buccaneer Aviation Group, S2Bs XW544 and XW894, both looked superb in their shiny new coats of paint, XW964’s being her first outing for 12 months following an in depth service and a full re-paint. Glenn Beasley was there for GAR.
Any day out at Bruntingthorpe is always pretty good value, given the diversity of airframes that reside there, although it is starting to look a bit like the RAF’s retirement home, given the arrival of the remainder of the TriStar fleet earlier in the week. But the fact that many of the types find their home here, not least the Buccaneers, can only be a good thing, given there are a band of highly dedicated men and women there to look after them in their retirement and allow them to stretch their legs once in a while.
One comment I heard more than once during the afternoon went along the lines of, ‘What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon’ and it really was just that. As the crescendo of the airshow season beckons, this was a great reminder of what it’s like to get up close and personal to a small number of aircraft and being a photographer myself, getting some fantastic opportunities to record these warriors of the Cold War in action.
The day had a very informal feel about it with the taxi runs kicking off at around 1330, with XX894 in her Royal Navy markings first to take centre stage with a slow speed taxi. Conditions really couldn’t have been much better for the first run of the day, and the access afforded to the spectators present was really first class, right alongside the runway with some tremendous angles available to the photographers present.
A nice additional bonus to the event had been the arrival during the morning of black Hunter T7B WV318, Jet Provost T52 G-PROV and Jet Provost T.3 XN637. Certainly the departure of the Hunter will live long in the memory of those present, a superb low take-off right to the end of the runway and lovely topside departure back down south. The Jet Provost T52 also followed suit in similar fashion and already it felt like the £20 entrance fee on the day had been an absolute bargain.
Back to the taxiing and Bruntingthorpe’s resident Hunter T7 XL565 took centre stage before the other star of the day, XW544, demonstrated a fast taxi down Bruntingthorpe’s long runway. With the taxiing now over it was time for the aircraft to be positioned together and an elevated platform was provided to afford a unique perspective of the two machines side by side. And it didn’t end there (although it did for the author!) as the event continued into the evening for a night photoshoot involving a third example, XX900.
It has to be hoped that the event raised a tidy sum towards the upkeep of these two very significant aircraft from the RAF’s recent history. The next event on the horizon at Bruntingthorpe will be the first Cold War Jets Open Day of the year on 25 May and it’s fair to say, given my enjoyment of this event, I may well see quite a few of you there come May!