Archive for May, 2008

Bidding now open for VIP Experience Day at Royal Air Force Museum

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

(24th May – 2nd June 2008)As part of May’s Museums and Galleries Month the Royal Air Force Museum has teamed up with online auction house Top Lots to offer an exclusive experience behind the scenes at the Museum’s Cosford site.

A must for any aviation enthusiast this exclusive day will allow the successful bidder and a guest to witness the ground-breaking conservation and preservation work undertaken by the staff of the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford.

Two lucky guests will be able to see the work that goes in to conserving and maintaining historic aircraft in an area not normally open to the public; talk to a conservator about the work that they are undertaking; and take private photography of the workshop.

After a 2 course lunch the successful bidder and their guest will then enjoy a personal tour of the rest of the Museum including the award-winning and visually stunning National Cold War Exhibition before obtaining a souvenir.

Bidding on this lot has commenced, with 80% of the proceeds going directly to the Royal Air Force Museum and 20% to the Association of Independent Museums. The Association of Independent Museums was founded to encourage new standards in the provision of services to users. To place your bid just go to and select “Steam and Transport”. So why not treat yourself and help raise some money for a world class aviation museum.

Entry to the National Cold War Exhibition at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is free from 10am daily. For further details visit

Dambusters Anniversary Publication Uncovers Hidden History

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

A new book produced to coincide with the 65th Anniversary of the legendary Dams Raid uncovers elements of hidden history crucial to the success of 617 Squadron’s attack on the German Dams in May 1943.The book produced for the Royal Air Force Museum by Newsdesk Media Group is titled ‘BREACHING THE GERMAN DAMS – FLYING INTO HISTORY’ and has been written by Robert Owen, the Official Historian of the No. 617 Squadron Aircrew Association, and Richard Morris, author of acclaimed biographies of Wing Commanders Guy Gibson VC and Leonard Cheshire VC. The foreword is by New Zealander, Les Munro, the sole remaining pilot to have taken part in the epic operation.

Seemingly well-documented aspects of the raid come under new scrutiny. Among them are the origins of the spotlight altimeter used to determine the height of 60ft that was critical for the release of the weapon. There is also new evidence about the development of the range-finding bomb-sight and the loading of the weapon on to the aircraft.

Vivid insights into Barnes Wallis, who invented and designed the famous ‘bouncing bomb’ that breached the dam walls, are offered by his daughter, Mary Stopes-Roe, who recalls wartime family life. Appearing for the first time in print, extracts from letters written by Wallis to his wife during the taxing period of the weapon’s development, illustrate his warmth and sense of humour.

Original research also reveals that there were plans to use the bouncing bomb for other purposes – attacking canals and viaducts – and that in 1944, another series of dam-busting operations was planned to assist the Allied offensive in Italy. Despite these aspirations, the weapon was never used again, and as this work describes, surviving stocks were dumped in the Atlantic shortly after the war.

The Dams Raid captured the public’s imagination in 1943 and has endured ever since. It has inspired books, documentaries and a classic film. However, a number of inaccurate assumptions about the operation exist to this day. ‘BREACHING THE GERMAN DAMS – FLYING INTO HISTORY’ takes a detailed look at one of history’s most legendary military operations and uncovers some secrets along the way.

The publication will be launched today, Friday 16 May, at Derwent Reservoir, Derbyshire at the event to mark the 65th Anniversary of the Dams Raid. The event will include a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster with Tornadoes from 617 Squadron.

The book is now available for purchase exclusively at

Australian War Veteran Makes Special Visit to Air Museum

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Over the past weekend, a number of veteran airmen from 578 Squadron attended the Squadron Association’s annual re-union, during which a Service was held at Selby Abbey. Amongst these was 87 year old Don McDonald, an Australian pilot who attended the event for the first time, having never before had the opportunity to make the long trip to do so.Following a request from fellow Association members David McSherry, of Hemingbrough, and Norman Davidson, 578 Squadron Association Chairman, from North Sheilds, arrangements were made for Don McDonald to make a special visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum on Monday (19th May) to see the Museum’s unique restored Halifax bomber. This was the first time that Don had stepped inside a Halifax since the end of the war and was without doubt a fitting end to an emotional weekend.

Don, accompanied by his wife of 30 years, Ailsa, both sprightly for their age, were shown around the Halifax by Museum volunteer Phil Kemp, of Wilberfoss, who has been involved with the restoration of this aircraft for over 15 years. Both were excited at the prospect and although Ailsa had not been expecting to go inside, she was amazed by the experience of seeing where here husband had sat to carry out his duty.

Don was born in Melbourne, Australia, on 7th October 1920. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in his hometown in December 1941, and was transferred to Europe in March 1943, where he joined 578 (Burn) Squadron as a pilot at the height of the Allied bombing campaign. After a full tour, during which he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, which he modestly puts down to ‘simply having the good fortune for not being in the wrong place at the wrong time’, he moved to Norton in Marsh in the hazardous role as an instructor, before taking on a second tour of duty with 466 Squadron, Driffield. Instructing was indeed a dangerous, but vital role, as the aircraft used were often those that had been repaired after mission damage but not deemed fit for operational use.

Don recalled the raids over Germany’s industrial heartland which would see over 600 aircraft attack their target, in waves of 200 or more over a short time period of just 9 minutes, saying that it was all down to luck that your aircraft was not involved in a mid-air collision or shot out of the sky, as so many were. However, we suspect that there is more to his earning the DFC, but he is not telling.

Ian Richardson, museum spokesman, said: “It was wonderful to meet Don and Ailsa and hear Don’s story. Those of us born many years after the end of WWII can only imagine what these young men went through at the time and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. We must also never forget that our Commonwealth stood firm behind Britain in our hour of need and all of us at the Museum were delighted to assist in the arrangements to make this visit to see the Halifax possible. We hope that this will not be the ‘one and only’ time we see Don and Aisla at Elvington.”

Further information at:

POTY2008- Theme 4 – Digital

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The final set of results are now in for theme 4 “Digital”. Congratulations this month go to Dean Feltimo from Maidenhead who netted 30 points, and wins himself any flight sim product up to £30 in value courtesy of Just Flight.

This theme was perhaps the most challenging of the 10 themes, and I feel this was reflected in the low number of entries.

The next theme is “Civil Aviation”, and is perhaps the least challenging, inlight of the fact that most of us live pretty close to an airfield or airport of some kind.

To find out more and enter this month, visit our competition page. The prize up for grabs this month is a ThinkTANK Photo Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket courtesy of Snapperstuff Ltd.

Good Luck,


Extreme Heights at World’s Biggest Seafront Airshow

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Base jumping off one of the biggest mobile cranes in the UK will be the star attraction at Airbourne this year as the world’s biggest seafront airshow welcomes a brand new daredevil act for 2008.UK Pro BASE will work alongside airshow organisers, Eastbourne Borough Council, for the first time this year to demonstrate the very technical, cutting edge modern sport. Base jumping involves highly trained individuals parachuting off fixed objects, and Airbourne visitors will be in for a real adrenaline rush this summer as a bold team of base jumpers sponsored by Go Fast Sports UK take off from one of the country’s tallest cranes standing at 101 metres on Eastbourne’s Western Lawns.

A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said: “We are extremely pleased and excited to be working alongside UK Pro BASE in 2008 to put on our most impressive airshow yet. Not only are we welcoming a brand new attraction in the form of base jumping, but the sportsmen will be jumping from an extremely tall crane! Alongside the dynamic aerobatics of the Red Arrows, and the impressive flying displays from the RAF Typhoon, Hawk, Tucano and Tutor, visitors are in for a spectacular four days watching adventurous pursuits in Eastbourne skies.”

Base jumping was only first demonstrated in the UK two years ago and is a relatively new sport. Athletes jump from their chosen object, open the parachute canopy to stop the fall and glide to a landing.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors to Airbourne will see this brand new extreme sport up close as base jumpers take off 101 metres in the air from a 200 tonne all terrain mobile crane.

Go Fast Sports UK will be sponsoring this new attraction and Director, Kris Yule, said: “BASE jumping is a great spectacle and normally only seen by those who are prepared to venture into the mountains of Europe (or get up really early in the morning in the UK and head down to your local tall building). The UK Pro BASE team are a professional outfit who will put on a great show. This is a core sport for the Go Fast brand so we are delighted to be involved in the 1st ever BASE jumping demonstration at Airbourne.”

Max Hurd and Dave Moores will be leading the team of base jumpers who completed the first ever UK base jump off a rollercoaster at Thorpe Park in April this year. Keen to promote the sport to a wider audience, the professional jumpers will be able to demonstrate their skill to a crowd of 500,000.

Airbourne returns to Eastbourne seafront from 14-17 August and with news of this latest addition to the 2008 line up, the international airshow promises a bumper filled four days of flying fun.

Watch in wonder at the Guinnot Wingwalkers, enjoy a tribute concert at Eastbourne Bandstand to the sounds of Grease and Summer Nights, and completely new for 2008, visitors will look to the skies as base jumpers leap off a crane standing over a hundred metres high.

UK Pro Base will be telling Chris Evans all about their latest partnership with Eastbourne Borough Council tomorrow evening on his Radio 2 show. For the latest Airbourne news visit or telephone 0871 663 0031.