Archive for September, 2012

Nimrod R1 unveiling at Cosford RAF Museum

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

 I was fortunate enough to be invited to represent Airscene, at RAF Cosford, to see the Nimrod R1 XV249 officially handed over to the museum by Air Chief Marshall Sir Brian Burridge. I say fortunate; because the other invited guests, at the “by invitation only” ceremony, also included Air Marshall Sir Kevin Leeson and personnel, past and present, from 51 Squadron – the only squadron to have flown the Nimrod R1 during its 40 years service with the RAF.

I arrived at Cosford early, in an effort to shoot some images of XV249 before the area became too crowded and I managed to get some “people free” images of the Nimrod. The R1 is parked immediately beyond the main entrance doors to the static area and the aircraft provides a new and impressive welcome for visitors to the museum.

Getting the R1 to RAF Cosford has been a long and difficult journey. And, XV249 is not just any old Nimrod – having flown in both the Maritime Patrol and Electronic Intelligence Roles and clocked up over 18,000 hours during her service. She is one of only 4 R1 models from a total production of 46 aircraft delivered to the RAF.

Delivery of the fuselage was taken in early March 2012, after it was transported from Kemble. The wings and other parts duly followed and she was re-assembled at Cosford during the summer.

Having just about exhausted most of the camera angles I could, I joined with the other guests for refreshments and had the chance to chat to members of 51 Squadron – both past and present. They hold the Nimrod in fond esteem and like us all, they had showed concern when following a Strategic Review, the Nimrod program had been cancelled.

How ironic then, that the Sentinel R1, which is the RAF’s current electronic intelligence gathering aircraft, failed to perform the planned flypast to mark the Nimrod Ceremony. No official mention was made of the “no show” or, indeed, the aircraft’s display slot in the program, but, it could be that the Sentinel R1 had developed a technical fault which could not be rectified in time for the ceremony.

Built as a Nimrod MR. Mk 1, XV249 made its first flight in 1970 with delivery to the RAF in early 1971. In 1976 she was involved in the ‘Cod War’ and also participated in Operation Tapestry which involved Fishery Protection and Gas Platform Surveillance. In March 1985, XV249 was delivered to RAF Kinloss having been converted to MR Mk 2 standard, being fitted with a new avionics and equipment suite and having the Shackleton-era radar replaced with the EMI Searchwater System.

In October 1995, XV249 went to BAe Woodford and was stripped of all ASW equipment and converted to R1 standard with the installation of additional atenna fittings. From 1997 she was flown as a fully equipped R Mk1 aircraft and in May 2011, after operations in Libya, she was withdrawn from normal service. In 2012, dismantling began at Kemble.

Guests and Museum staff gathered around the aircraft and were addressed by Peter Dye, the RAF Museum Director General, who expressed his thanks to all those involved in getting the aircraft to Cosford and undertaking the complicated task of re-assembling this unique Nimrod.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge, an ex Nimrod Pilot himself, gave an interesting address about the aircraft and recounted some of his own Nimrod stories. His speech offered a great insight into operational flying of the type and was both informative and entertaining. Finally, Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson formally handed over the aircraft’s log book and, in return, was presented with a ‘mounted’ bolt taken from the Nimrod’s wing structure. I can only hope that the bolt does not play an important part in maintaining airframe integrity!

So now I know much more about what I thought was just a converted DH Comet – and I was impressed, both with the aircraft and the crews that flew her – the plane may be consigned to history now, but if you want to discover more, like I did, take a trip to Cosford and marvel at another fine example of British aviation design and technical innovation – the Nimrod R1.

(Report and photos by Dave Briers)

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Royal Air Force Museum Appeals to Airfix Fans

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The Royal Air Force Museum London will be launching in Summer 2013 a signature exhibition commemorating and celebrating the national institution that is Airfix. This exhibition will chart the history of this Great British Institution by displaying original Box Art as well as Airfix’s most popular models from the 50s, 60s and 70s in the Museum’s Art Gallery.

An important part of the exhibition will be the examination of how Airfix has permeated the social fabric of the United Kingdom and how it has influenced the leisure activities of generations of young men and women since the company’s foundation. Accordingly, the Royal Air Force Museum is today launching an appeal to ask members of the public who have any original paintings which were produced as artwork for packaging to contact the Museum. The Museum would also be interested in hearing about models from 1950s, 60s and 70s with their original packaging.

Andrew Cormack Keeper of Visual Arts, Medals and Uniforms at the Royal Air Force Museum and Curator of the Airfix Exhibition states:

‘Over the last 9 months I have had the pleasure of working closely with the team at Airfix, whilst curating this exhibition. Although the Museum does have a plethora of materials to draw upon, it was common practice when staff retired from Airfix for them to be awarded original artwork as a thank you from the team.

This means that in terms of the proposed exhibition there are a couple of minor gaps in the artwork we would like to hang. These include artwork from the Historical Personalities series, the Sailing Ships series and Airfix’s military vehicles series during the 1950s and 60s including the work of Roy Cross and Michael Turner. And although we will doubtless show some superb models, it would be interesting, if possible, to find any models that still survive that were made by young children also from this period. After all, the pleasure of making a kit experienced by an eight year old – the majority of purchasers in the 1960s – was more about imagination and inspiration, perhaps even emulation, than it was accuracy.

If any members of the public have in their possession any original Airfix paintings or models from the 1950s, 60s and 70s and would like to offer to lend their items to be displayed in this exhibition please contact me by calling 020 8205 2266 or by emailing me at

This Airfix exhibition is scheduled to commence June 2013 after the exhibition that is currently on show in the Museum’s Art Gallery ‘Fresh Air: a new perspective in aviation art’ finishes. This exhibition is a retrospective on the work of Artist in Residence to the Red Arrows, David Bent.

Entry to Fresh Air is free of charge to visitors; as is entry to the Museum. The exhibition will be shown daily from 10am to 6pm. For further details please visit or dial 020 8205 2266.

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Autumn Air Show celebrates the 70th anniversary of the mighty Mustang

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The Autumn Air Show on Sunday 14 October closes the air show season in relaxed style.

One of the highlights of the Autumn Air Show will be a display by P-51Mustang Ferocious Frankie alongside Spitfire IX from the Old Flying Machine Company, presenting the might of the Merlin engine in these legendary American and British fighter aircraft.

Also flying will be North American TF-51 Mustang Miss Velma from The Fighter Collection.

These thrilling displays commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Merlin-engine Mustang, a pivotal moment in aviation history which was initiated by events at RAF Duxford.

During the Second World War, the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) was based at RAF Duxford. The AFDU provided technical intelligence to the RAF, developing operational tactics and testing captured enemy aircraft.

It was a phone call from Wing Commander Ian Campbell-Orde, Commanding Officer of the AFDU at RAF Duxford, to Ronnie Harker, Rolls-Royce service-liaison pilot, which started the sequence of events which would result in the matchless combination of the Mustang aircraft and the Rolls-Royce engine.

Harker was offered the opportunity to fly one of the new Allison-engine Mustangs that had recently arrived at RAF Duxford. He flew the aircraft on 30 April 1942 and was clearly impressed with its manoeuvrability, speed and agility. In his report, he commented “The point that strikes me is that with a powerful and good engine like the Merlin 61, its performance should be outstanding, as it is 35mph faster than a Spitfire V at roughly the same power.”

A subsequent visit to RAF Duxford by Willoughby Lappin, Personal Assistant to E W Hives, Director and General Works Manager at Rolls-Royce, ensured that the proposal was taken seriously and soon thereafter a meeting about the Mustang took place between Rolls-Royce and the Air Ministry.

After much backroom research, performance investigation testing and correspondence between Rolls- Royce, the American Embassy, North American Aviation (the aircraft manufacturer responsible for the Mustang) and the Air Ministry, the first aircraft was assigned for conversion. This, together with subsequent developments in the aircraft’s propeller and fuel injection, resulted in the definitive American long-range single-seat fighter and an enduringly iconic aircraft that continues to amaze spectators with its aerial dexterity.

IWM Duxford air show favourites displaying at the Autumn Air Show include the Black Cats Lynx Pair from 702 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton; the Apache helicopter from the Army Air Corps at RAF Wattisham; BAE Systems Hawk from 208 Squadron at RAF Valley; Shorts Tucano from the Central Flying School Flight at RAF Linton-on-Ouse; Beechcraft King Air from 45 Squadron at RAF Cranwell and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Douglas DC-3 Dakota.

Showcasing historic aircraft based at IWM Duxford, there will be displays by B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B; North American F-86 Sabre; two Spitfires; two Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and a Goodyear Corsair.

Join us for the Autumn Air Show as we commemorate the innovation that led to the formidable Mustang fighter aircraft and celebrate another fantastic air show season at IWM Duxford.

There is still time to purchase your tickets in advance to save 10% and get a free child ticket, which is available with every adult or senior ticket purchased.

This offer is on advance ticket purchases only; it cannot be used on the day of the event.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Box Office on 01223 499 353. The Box Office is open from Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

There is no booking fee but a postage and packing fee applies per transaction.

Advance tickets will be available until:

5pm on Friday 28 September for overseas postal delivery

5pm on Wednesday 3 October for UK postal delivery

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What are you doing on sunday 7th July 2013?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Wrong! Well at least one of you is… One of you (namely the winner of this years calendar competition) will be going to RAF Waddington International Airshow (Waddo as it is affectionately know by its tens of thousands of fans) with a vehicle pass (for vehicle and up to 5 persons) courtesy of the team at Waddington.

Waddo is one of the UK’s biggest and favourite airshows, with typical crowds averaging 140,000.  This year saw the arrival of the Black Eagles in the UK, now there will be some who stop me to credit RIAT with this, but hey… Waddo showcased them first – all credit for having an earlier date in the calendar.

The main purpose of the event is to increase public awareness and understanding of the RAF and its role today. All proceeds from the Air Show are donated to RAF and local charities each year.

The spectacular 7-hour flying display normally features the fabulous Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF Falcons freefall parachute team and many more military and civilian aircraft from the UK; it is also heavily supported by military forces from around the world. Ground displays include 2 exhibition hangars, funfair, classic cars display, pleasure flying and much more!

To find out more about Waddo Airshow visit

To enter the Airscene 2013 Calendar Competition visit

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You Wont be Disappointed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

At least thats how Neil Darby closed his review for the Dunsfold Wings & Wheels 2012 with a recommendation to attend in 2013.

Well  – good news – the winner of this years calendar competition and their family (2 adults and up to 3 children) will be going there for FREE courtesy of the Wings and Wheels team and Dunsfold Park (

For those not in the know… Dunsfold Park is the Home of Top Gear’s famous “reaonable priced car” race track. Wings & Wheels itself is a multi-faceted weekend of aviation and motoring entertainment staged over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

If you havent been to Wings and Wheels yet, do check out Neil’s recently posted review at and see what you have been missing.

To quote Neil directly… “This was the third Dunsfold show I have attended , and it just gets better and better each year. Separated out into different ‘Zones’, there is something for everyone. Whether it be 2 wheels or 4, Helicopters or Planes, Military or civil, the show has it covered.”

To enter and to have a chance of winning this and other great prizes, check out the competition page at and get your entry in asap!

Good Luck.

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2013 Calendar Competition

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Less than 4 weeks to go folks, so if you havent got any entries in yet – best pull your fingers out.

Still in discussions and hoping to make at least one more prize announcement later this week.

And finally, all entries submitted now MUST be taken during 2012.

I look forward to receiving your entries,

Good Luck ,


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Airbourne Marks 20 Year Anniversary With a New High

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Airbourne celebrated its 20 year anniversary in style with its busiest day ever on Saturday 11 August.

With record crowds flocking to the seafront to see the first ever Vulcan bomber display in Eastbourne, by 2pm car parks at Beachy Head and Five Acre Field became completely full for the first time in the show’s 20 year history.

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley said “I have never seen so many people on the seafront, we certainly had our best turn out ever for the Vulcan. It was wonderful to see this huge gleaming hulk of a jet appear from around the corner at Beachy Head – simply amazing!

Thank you to everyone who supported the event this year, whether by volunteering, donating or purchasing the programmes and radio headsets – its all helping us to keep Airbourne soaring high.”

Thousands continued the celebration on Sunday evening heading to Princes Park for coverage of the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, along with a parachute jump from The Tigers and fireworks from the beaches.

Donation buckets counted so far already amount to the most donations ever collected at Airbourne. Organised by the Eastbourne Hospitality Association, funds are being split with 30% to the RNLI Eastbourne charity and 70% towards the cost of Airbourne. Programme sales have also topped those from last year with just a limited number left to purchase and proceeds supporting the future of Airbourne.

Eastbourne Hospitality Association Vice President, Marco Giorgi said “There was a real feel good factor about the show this year, people really want Airbourne and were more than happy to donate towards the show and the RNLI. The message seemed to get across for the first time this year that if people donate just £1 each then the future of Airbourne is assured. The show costs a huge amount to put on and can never be taken for granted. However well it’s supported financially, that £1 in the bucket gives the organisers a clear message that the people of Eastbourne want the show to continue”.

The Vulcan display proved a real hit bringing in extra crowds, with Southern Railway seeing record numbers of visitors into Eastbourne station.

Eastbourne Station Manager, Graham Thrower said: “Over 36 per cent more people used Eastbourne station to get to and from the airshow compared to Saturday last year. To be fair to everyone, we once again instigated a queuing system which worked extremely well. Everyone was in good spirits, and everyone got home with the minimum amount of delay to their journey.”

EHA Vice President, Marco Giorgi also added “Hotels restaurants and pubs were all packed over the weekend, especially for Saturday’s Vulcan display – superb! Well done to all of the organisers for taking a risk on the Vulcan.”

A low bank of cloud and mist directly over Eastbourne seafront on Thursday did however lead to the cancellation of flying displays that day. The low cloud base of only 300 feet in Eastbourne and 1-200 feet at Shoreham Airport, meant that some aircraft could not get airborne and others could not display safely.

However crowds still enjoyed the ground displays, including the new tri-service exhibition with new exhibits of an inflatable assault course, Army paint balling and an Apache helicopter simulator all proving very popular. Blue skies early on Friday meant visitors enjoyed bonus practice flying displays from many teams in the morning followed by a full display in the afternoon.

For fans who missed the show, exclusive photos and cockpit footage are available to view online, including the Jet Provost display and the Royal Navy Raiders Parachute jump. Fans can also share their own photos and video on the Airbourne Facebook page.

There is still time to donate or buy a special edition 20th anniversary souvenir programme. To buy or donate online visit the Airbourne website or donate at the Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre or Seafront Office.

Airbourne returns in 2013 from Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 August.

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