Readers Pictures 2017
December is finally here and whilst we find ourselves firmly in the teeth of yet another long winter, we think we have something to warm the heart of every self-respecting aviation enthusiast in this latest edition of Aerodrome – the latest instalment of our popular annual Readers Pictures feature. Although I do try to get to as many aviation related events as I can during the course of the year, there are only so many weekends you can spend away from home and family duties, particularly as the major Airshow events take up so many summer weekends. As I am located in the Northwest of England, time, travel and expense are also significant considerations, particularly as many of the most appealing events take place many miles away from my home and like many fellow enthusiasts, I find myself having to be much more selective about the events I attend these days. Fortunately, Aerodrome readers from around the world are a caring, sharing bunch and are more than happy to send us their pictures from events they have attended, allowing us to share them with fellow readers. It has become clear, that there is nothing quite like seeing your name displayed on the Corgi and Airfix websites and having your work admired by many thousands of like-minded enthusiasts – from the readers perspective, as many of these events have not been previously covered by an Aerodrome review, it is no wonder that our Readers Pictures edition is always amongst the most popular blogs of the year.
We would like to thank everyone who has kindly sent in their pictures during 2017 and whilst it has not been possible to use them all in this latest edition, we may well publish a further Readers Pictures edition early in the New Year, to showcase another batch of images. We would also like to ask everyone to continue sending the pictures in to us at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com particularly in view of the significant anniversary being celebrated by the Royal Air Force next year – we are hoping to produce our own tribute to RAF 100 next year, featuring your pictures and your interpretations of the RAF Centenary. We will have more information regarding this initiative at the end of our blog, but for now, let’s unleash the images!
Roving aviation reporter (in a Bedfordshire field)
The Shuttleworth Gloster Gladiator Mk.I is an extremely rare aeroplane
It has to be said that sometimes, Aerodrome readers really do go beyond the call of duty in their efforts to bring us interesting and unusual pictures to include in our blog. That certainly proved to be the case when regular contributor Steve Kimpton sent in these fantastic pictures following his attendance at this year’s Shuttleworth Fly Navy show at the beginning of June, following an unfortunate incident involving the collections magnificent Gloster Gladiator. As one of the rarest airworthy aircraft in the world and an aviation jewel in the crown for the Old Warden based Shuttleworth Collection, Gladiator L8032 was the last production Mk.I variant to be constructed and has been with the Collection since it was presented to them for safe keeping in November 1960. Representing the transition between biplane and monoplane fighter designs, the Gladiator is a popular and enigmatic performer at Old Warden displays and her inclusion in the flying programme of the Fly Navy Airshow was most welcome, especially as the aircraft had apparently been experiencing some technical issues in the days leading up to the show. Making an early morning test flight and taking its place in the main display, the Gladiator got airborne for a third time during the finale of the show, flying in formation with a Westland Lysander and Hawker Demon. Whilst flying along the crowd line, the Gladiator’s engine was heard spluttering several times, with puffs of black smoke coming from the exhaust – clearly something was not right with the aircraft and everyone in the crowd started to get a little concerned.
Conscious of the priceless aircraft he was flying and calling on all his experience and professionalism, the pilot made the decision to get the aircraft on the ground as quickly as possible, as the engine was clearly not producing enough power to return safely to the airfield. Turning away from Old Warden, he placed the aircraft gently down in a farmer’s field adjacent to the airfield, but as the Gladiator sank out of view behind a heavily wooded area, the thousands of spectators watching the incident held their breath. Thankfully, it did not take long before the commentator reassured everyone that the aircraft and pilot were on the ground safely, which resulted in a spontaneous round of applause and a collective sigh of relief.
Coming at the end of the show, Steve was determined to obtain proof that the Gladiator had not sustained any damage and attempted to hunt down the aircraft before making his way home. The following selection of images are extremely unusual and illustrate the skill of display pilots who fly vintage aircraft for our enjoyment at Airshows the length and breadth of the country each year and how safety is their primary concern. The aircraft was later towed back to Old Warden and is now safely back under the protection of its hangar – a great catch Steve and some of the most unusual images of 2017.
Gladiator hunting. Steve went looking for the Gladiator at the end of the show
These unusual images show how well the pilot did in managing an extremely difficult situation
Earlier in the day, this Seafire LF III suffered a heavy landing due to the gusty conditions at Old Warden
Attending at least two of the same shows as I did this year, reader Mark Maguire sent us a trio of pictures that clearly illustrate both the aviation diversity we possibly take for granted whilst attending UK Airshows and how we all have our particular favourite display acts. Duxford airfield is without doubt one of the most popular destinations for anyone with even the slightest interest in aviation history, or hoping to experience the thrill of seeing historic aircraft taking to the air in all their glory, also ensuring that their annual Airshow programme are amongst the best supported events of their kind in the country. Mark attended the Duxford Air Festival in May and managed to capture two acts that could hardly be more diverse – the awesome power of the classic De Havilland sea Vixen and the aerobatic thrill of the Breitling Wing Walkers. Unfortunately, for many enthusiasts, this would be their only glimpse of the Sea Vixen in 2017, as this magnificent aircraft suffered a landing incident on its return to Yeovilton and is currently undergoing a lengthy period of renovation – in fact, there is the distressing possibility that the magnificent Sea Vixen may never be returned to airworthy status.
The following day, Mark headed to Bruntingthorpe Airfield and one of their increasingly popular Cold War Jets fast taxiing events, but despite the impressive array of classic jet aviation on display, the only aircraft to display in the air was Supermarine Spitfire PR XIX PS915 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Mark managed to capture an image of the Spitfire as it performed a short, but, spirited display for the gathered masses, before the main events of the afternoon got underway – we may have been stood quite close to each other Mark.
The De Havilland Sea Vixen made a spectacular appearance at the May Duxford show
Mark Maguire captured one of the ever-popular Breitling wing walkers at Duxford
Another day, another show – Mark headed for Bruntingthorpe after his day at Duxford
Gazelle Down Under
Bearing in mind the current competition for the Ashes taking place in Australia, we simply had to include this image sent in by one of our Antipodean readers, which represents aviation that most UK residents would never usually have the opportunity to see. Following our Gazelle Squadron features which were published earlier this year, Australian reader Greg Henderson was compelled to send us this picture of former Royal Navy Westland Gazelle VH-OIW, which he saw at this year’s Barossa Airshow, in South Australia. The Barossa Airshow is unique in that it is the only Airshow in the world to be run by a local school and with a vibrant historic aviation scene in Australia, there is always the chance that crowds will see something truly memorable at the show. With the first show only taking place in 1998, next year will mark its 10th Anniversary and hopefully Greg, or one of our other Australian readers might like to send Aerodrome a review of this interesting event – watch this space.
Gazelle heaven. Greg Henderson proves that the ‘Whistling Chicken Leg’ can be seen at Airshow events all over the world
Whilst trying to decide which images to feature in our Readers Pictures editions of Aerodrome, it is clearly evident that we have some extremely talented photographers amongst our readership and it can be a difficult task. Another regular contributor to our blog, Michael Collins is an aviation photographer of some repute and having recently passed his driving test and secured his first car, has had something of a prolific season photographing aeroplanes. Supplying us with a selection of images from Abingdon Airshow, Duxford Air Festival and Biggin Hill Festival of Flight, Michael had made my job extremely difficult, as every one of his pictures are worthy of inclusion. Here is a small selection from each of the shows:
Abingdon Air and Country Show
A beautiful study of Martin Baker’s Meteor T.7 WL419
This Yak 3 represents the best of WWII Soviet air power
New to the Great Warbirds Display Team for 2017, this replica Avro 504 is owned by the great-grandson of A.V Roe
P-51D Mustang ‘Miss Helen’ is one of the most popular Warbirds on the UK display circuit
Duxford Air Festival
Centre of attention – a USAF CV-22 Osprey from Mildenhall
The Percival Mew Gull is a classic British racing aircraft from the 1930s
One of the most attractive historic aircraft in Britain today, the handsome De Havilland D.H 88 Comet
Enthusiasts at the May Duxford show were lucky enough to see the only 2017 display of the awesome De Havilland Sea Vixen
Biggin Hill Festival of Flight
A Duo of magnificent Czech Air Force Mil helicopters above Biggin Hill
The ‘Kent Spitfire’ TA805 is based at this former Battle of Britain station
The number of airworthy Hawker Hurricanes has increased during 2017
Star of the Biggin Hill show, Mil Mi-24V Hind D wearing a distinctive paint scheme
Headcorn Messerschmitt trainer surprise
Without doubt, one of the most unusual aircraft spotted at a UK Airshow event during 2017 was the attendance of Messerschmitt Bf 109G-12 fighter trainer ‘Yellow 27’ at the Battle of Britain Airshow at Headcorn Aerodrome in early July. Representing one of the few Messerschmitt two seat trainers built at the end of the war to help reduce the significant number of accidents taking place amongst inexperienced pilots converting to the 109 after having their training programmes significantly reduced, this magnificent aircraft will help to provide similar training support to current pilots hoping to fly this notoriously challenging aircraft. It will also allow a fortunate few to experience a flight in one of the world’s great fighting aircraft from WWII.
This two seat Messerschmitt Bf 109G-12 was an unexpected bonus for Simon at Headcorn
With the canopy modified significantly to allow the instructor sitting in the rear of the aircraft to have even the slightest forward view in support of his student pilot, this unique aircraft also has the ability to be flown with either a Rolls Royce Merlin or a Daimler Benz DB 605 engine as its main powerplant, greatly increasing its operating effectiveness and serviceability. Clearly, the availability of Merlin spares and engineering support is much greater than that of the rare Daimler Benz alternative, but the ability to change between the two engines is a fascinating feature of this aircraft and can be achieved in just a couple of days, thanks to the work carried out by the Messerschmitt’s owners. Only flying with the Merlin engine installed during June this year, the aircraft was later transported by road to Headcorn Aerodrome, home of the Aero Legends flight experience business, where it was the unexpected star of their Battle of Britain Airshow. Unable to take part in the flying display, the aircraft did perform several power-up and taxiing demonstrations to the delight of the appreciative audience.
These fantastic images were sent in by Simon Watkins, who was fortunate to be invited to the show as a guest of Aero Legends. A Kent native, Simon describes how he remembers visiting the aerodrome as a youngster and this latest visit brought back many happy memories for him. Knowing that the airfield now operates experience flights involving the iconic Spitfire, he was surprised to see this unusual Messerschmitt stealing something of the Spitfire’s limelight, but grabbed a couple of pictures nonetheless – we are very pleased that he did.
The Messerschmitt is currently powered by a British Merlin engine
We would like to thank Simon, Greg, Michael and Steve for sending in their images and allowing us to share them with fellow Aerodrome readers. If we have not included your pictures this time, please do not despair, as we will be producing another edition of Readers Pictures in the very near future and you may well find yourself the centre of attention.
As mentioned earlier, next year’s Centenary of the Royal Air Force will see the subject of aviation receiving plenty of media attention and it is already looking like 2018 will also be a significant year for Airshows and aviation related opportunities. As Aerodrome readers are clearly both knowledgeable on matters aviation and talented when it comes to photographing them, we intent to produce our own commemoration of RAF 100, centred around the pictures and experiences of Aerodrome readers everywhere. If you have an RAF story to tell, some unique pictures from your time in the Air Force (or those of a family member), or will simply be attending one of the many commemorative events planned for 2018, please let us know and send details to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It is fascinating to think that we might unearth some interesting RAF related stories that may never have been previously shared outside the family environment, but as the Aerodrome family continues to expand with each new edition posted, these stories will certainly be appreciated by our group of like-minded enthusiasts. If you have any ideas for potential features, or would like to tell us your RAF story, please do get in touch, as 2018 is already looking like being a significant year in the history of aviation.
Aviation news from around the UK
Our friends at Newark Air Museum have kindly sent us details of an exciting project taking place during their winter maintenance programme, which features one of their most popular aircraft exhibits. Saab Viggen AJSH 37 (373 918) is currently being prepared for a ‘Viggen Valet’, which will see the aircraft benefit from a smart new paint scheme in time for the 2018 season – as this is one of the most popular exhibits, the museum are keen to alert visitors to the fact that viewing opportunities may be restricted for the duration of this work, in an attempt to avoid potential disappointment during your next visit. The following words and supporting picture were supplied by Howard Heeley of Down To Earth Promotions, a regular contributor to Aerodrome.
Saab Viggen Survey & Repaint
Newark’s famous Saab Viggen preparing for some aviation TLC. Image courtesy of Howard Heeley, Down To Earth Promotions
An airframe assessment has recently been undertaken by staff and volunteers at the Newark Air Museum to establish a programme of conservation work on the Saab Viggen maritime reconnaissance / strike fighter that is displayed in Hangar 2 at the museum. Recent appeals via social media and the museum’s own website has enabled the museum to expand its Royal Swedish Air Force reference material for the Viggen aircraft. This has included the supply of appropriate paint references/ specifications for the iconic ‘splinter pattern’ camouflage markings worn by this AJSH 37 variant of the aircraft which is currently on display at the Newark Air Museum.
Exhaustive research will allow the team to finish the Viggen in an authentic Swedish Air Force splinter scheme. Picture courtesy of Howard Heeley
Preliminary cleaning and detailed survey work is now well underway on the Viggen, which is displayed in Hangar 2 at the museum. This work now forms part of the museum’s wider winter 2017/18 programme of work that also includes the Harvard rebuild that is ongoing in the onsite workshop. The Saab Viggen was famously flown into RAF Cranwell on 7th February 2006, where it was dismantled by the museum volunteers before being transported by road down the A17 to the museum site on part of the former World War II base, RAF Winthorpe. The End-User certificate for the Viggen aircraft stipulates that it must retain its ex- Royal Swedish Air Force colour scheme and markings. This aircraft is the only example of the type displayed in a UK museum, and has always been a popular exhibit. As a consequence of its popularity, the museum trustees are trying to make potential visitors aware that views and access to the Viggen may be restricted during the winter months.
Anglesey Hunter Fan Club
We are extremely pleased to report that our recent feature concerning the new home for former RAF gate guardian Hawker Hunter WV396 proved to be one of the most popular editions of Aerodrome yet produced and resulted in many people contacting us to express their delight at the project. It appears that many aviation enthusiasts in Wales feel they are often overlooked when it comes to aviation news and they were really pleased to see the entire blog devoted to this exciting project. We will certainly try and do something about that in 2018, as Anglesey Transport Museum’s Chris Davies has promised to keep us regularly updated with his Hunter renovation progress and we intend to be present when the repainted aircraft is unveiled to its new audience, which will hopefully be in time for the 2018 season. We may even be able to squeeze in a quick visit to RAF Valley whilst on Anglesey, which is always something to look forward to.
Thank you for all the kind and supportive e-mails and social media posts, which clearly show that Chris and his team have plenty of Hunter supporters keen to visit their high profile new aviation acquisition.
I am afraid that is all we have for you in this latest edition of Aerodrome and the latest incarnation of our Readers Pictures feature. We have included a selection of interesting and unusual shots from 2017 this time and we thank everyone who took the time to send in their pictures. If you would like the opportunity to feature in the next Readers Pictures edition of Aerodrome, please send your images to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com e-mail addresses, with details of when and where they were taken.
All the latest social media discussions regarding Aerodrome and aviation related matters in general are taking place on both the Airfix Aerodrome Forum and Corgi Aerodrome Forum, so why not consider contributing – as always, if you have any specific comments, questions or suggestions for future editions of Aerodrome, please do feel free to drop us a line and let us know. We also have our vibrant Airfix Facebook and Corgi Facebook pages, along with Airfix Twitter or Corgi Twitter accounts – please use #aerodrome when posting about an aerodrome topic.
We look forward to bringing you the next edition of Aerodrome, which is due to be published on Friday 15th December, where we will be looking at a very special ‘behind the scenes’ event held recently at RAF Cosford.
Thank you for your continued support of our Aerodrome blog, which is very much appreciated.
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