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Hellenic Spitfire flies

Aviation Posted on Tue, January 21, 2020 23:37:03

Spitfire MJ755 of the Hellenic Air Force museum flew for the first time since 1953 a couple of days ago after a restoration at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. I did get to see it today from the office as it was on an air test near to Manston around lunchtime. So sadly rather distant but still the first Spit of 2020.

Sounds good!

Aviation Posted on Wed, January 15, 2020 00:14:06

I see that TV channel More 4 have commissioned a programme called ‘Inside the Spitfire Factory’. Don’t know when it is supposed to air but they have this to say:

A new six-part series delves deep into the world of classic military aircraft restoration at one of Britain’s most unusual factories. Located at the historic Biggin Hill Air base in Kent, the factory exists to bring back to life Britain’s most iconic aircraft – the Spitfire. Over the course of a year, the series will follow the journey of three different Spitfires as they are painstakingly restored from rusty remains in the hope of getting them back to full flying condition. A larger than life cast of characters – from mechanics and pilots to historians and WWII veterans – will also be on hand to explore the Spitfire’s rich history and tell stories full of surprises.

Shady Lady to tour?

Aviation Posted on Mon, January 06, 2020 00:10:27

I see that there is a suggestion that the Collings Foundation’s second B-17 ‘Shady Lady’ could join their historic flight tours. All Foundation aircraft were grounded after the crash last year of B-17 nine-O-nine but the renewal permit required from March may include Shady Lady as a replacement. The aircraft was acquired from Evergreen, where I visited with Marcus last September, back in 2015 having previously been grounded since 2001 with concerns about the main spar attachment points. Presumably these issues have been resolved if regular flights are being contemplated some time this year. Further news awaited and I wish them safe flying.

Zeke answer?

Aviation Posted on Thu, January 02, 2020 17:58:22

Gaz, is this the second Zeke you meant? Taken in April 2012 seemingly without powerplant.

In review

Aviation Posted on Tue, December 31, 2019 20:43:34

So, with a New Year imminent I though I would have a quick look back at 2019. A quiet year in terms of air shows as I only did Flying Legends which was a bit flat this time around. Although not an air show I also attended the Duxford Dakota event back in May which, unfortunately, was not helped by the weather. It was a great effort by those owners that got their aircraft to the show and impressive to see so many Daks together but ultimately it did not really live up to the hype.

A better event was the Duxford showcase day that I attended in August. Only a handful of aircraft putting on a short display but actually a good day out.

A trip to Lincolnshire early in the year enabled me to take in some old airfields and check the progress on the East Kirkby Lancaster restoration and also visit the impressive bomber command memorial in Lincoln itself. There was a little more airfield hunting in Scotland before Legends in July the high point of which was having Marcus over from Canada for a couple of days.

Marcus stayed on the agenda as we managed to bump in to each other in Oregon in September and our couple of weeks over there was a big plus this year. No air shows but some impressive museums and a few firsts in terms of aircraft spotting.

The year drew to a close with an enjoyable visit to Cosford and the workshop open day and finally a closing visit to Duxford.

Thanks especially to Gary for his ongoing support in contributing to the posts here and hopefully we will manage a few more for 2020. Not sure what these will be as yet since 2020 hols have been booked and do not include any air shows or museums. Dates for Legends are not yet confirmed but, unless content improves, I would class myself as doubtful for going. Still, it is the 80th anniversary of BoB in 2020 so there might be some shows marking that that will tempt me. Duxford in September is a possible and there are a couple of other shows not previously attended under consideration. 

So Happy New Year to all, keep checking for updates if you are interested and here are a few reminders from the last 12 months.

Deopham Green

Aviation Posted on Sat, December 28, 2019 23:42:53

Deopham Green in Norfolk opened in 1944 and was host to the USAAF 452nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) and their B-17s. Although the airfield was closed by 1948 there are still a handful of original buildings, one or two which have been given a new lease of life but others whose days look numbered. It is also quite easy to trace taxiways and runways with a public road running most of the length of the main runway although remaining concrete is clearly being lifted. The airfield is therefore gradually disappearing but there is a memorial on the remnants of one of the runways as I saw a couple of days ago.

No bag checks!

Aviation Posted on Fri, December 27, 2019 18:24:27

Heading home from Norfolk this morning I took a very small detour and popped in to Duxford for the last of what has turned out to be several visits this year. Seemingly the bag check gestapo were sleeping off the Christmas turkey as no one was being accosted on the way in today. All was fairly quiet really with the flying population tucked up for the winter and although the viewing area was open there weren’t even any lights on in the ARCO hangar. Probably run out of coins for the meter! Still down that end was the ‘Heinkel’ 111 that is off to Hawkinge so could be the last time I see that.

As Gaz mentioned recently, no change on the CR42 front and most of the long term TFC stuff looked much as it has for a while although there was something looking suspiciously like an engine next to the Beau. The Staggerwing was also in a more promising position. Sally B was in for the winter sporting the new engine that recently replaced ‘smokey joe’ although I understand that it has not been air tested as one of the other engines failed to fire up on the day and they ran out of time before placing the old girl under cover. Anyway, some pictures from today’s meander around.

Jaguar XZ394

Aviation Posted on Thu, December 26, 2019 23:33:22

This Jaguar GR3, lately to be found at Shoreham, is destined for the new Sculthorpe Heritage Centre. However it has been acquired by a Norfolk farmer and, pending a move, is currently to be found in a field in the small village of Tattersett as I saw earlier today.

Bodney Airfield

Aviation Posted on Thu, December 26, 2019 18:56:18

Bodney airfield in Norfolk was initially a RAF field but later handed over to the USAAF and was best known as home to the 352nd Fighter Group and the ‘Blue nosed bastards of Bodney’. The airfield has returned largely to agriculture and as there were only ever grass runways there are few visible remains. The control tower still exits but access is behind a gated lane on MoD property so I didn’t investigate. However, there is a memorial outside of Bodney Camp which still has occasional military training use.

Seasons Greetings all!

Aviation Posted on Tue, December 17, 2019 18:45:40

One to watch

Aviation Posted on Sun, December 08, 2019 23:38:46

I’ve been reading about the fledgling South Wales Aviation Museum which opened in Barry back in April. The collection is fairly small at present but includes a Jet Provost, Harrier, F-4 ‘Black Mike’, Vampire, Gnat and Hunter along with a Gannet that is being restored to flight. On the cards to join are A Canberra, Hawk, Buccaneer, Lightning and Jaguar with ambitions to move a DC-6 from Coventry and perhaps, longer term,  a VC10 from Bruntingthorpe. Refreshingly there is a stated policy not to put notice boards in front of museum aircraft so that photographers can get some decent shots of the exhibits. Sounds like somebody understands.

and safely home

Aviation Posted on Thu, December 05, 2019 14:35:08

After an epic round the globe flight the Silver Spitfire landed safely back at Goodwood earlier after not attracting am awful lot of publicity, it seems to me, during its 4 month trip. Anyway congratulations to all involved and its grand to see the merlin engine can still perform so well.

I did toy with going to Dover to see it fly over but don’t really have the time at present and it could have been a wasted trip as the Spit was fog bound at Lelystad for a while. I kept tabs on flight tracker and as it was at over 5,000′ heading for the channel it seemed unlikely a decent snap was in the offing so I stayed in Ramsgate. I did pop up to the cliff as it was approaching my lunch break when it was arriving over the UK but didn’t get a sight of it.

Cannock Chase War Cemeteries

Aviation Posted on Tue, November 19, 2019 23:54:36

I’ve visited the odd war cemetery in the past, particularly a couple in Germany dedicated to downed RAF crews. At the weekend I found myself near Cannock so went to visit, primarily, the German cemetery there which commemorates German ‘soldaten’ that lost their lives on British soil in WWI and WWII. In the main this means German aircrew. It seemed a little strange seeing lines of headstones in this country with what were clearly Germanic names. Its a sombre place, made more so by the grey stones and gloomy weather and brings home a little the futility of the conflicts.

Wheaton Aston airfield

Aviation Posted on Mon, November 18, 2019 23:42:28

Also known as RAF Little Onn, Wheaton Aston airfield in Staffordshire was built in 1940 and became one of the biggest training areas for RAF air crew in WWII. The base was abandoned by the RAF in 1947 and was then used as a Polish resettlement camp for many years. There is a very short video here and the dilapidated buildings at 2.21 are now the smart cream buildings in the shot below.

Since the camp closed the base has returned to agriculture and runways and tracks were pretty muddy farm land when I visited. However, some buildings remain including the control tower which is protected.

RAF Cosford Museum

Aviation Posted on Sun, November 17, 2019 22:46:52

Although I went to the Cosford centenary airshow I didn’t have the chance to look around the museum as well so my visit yesterday was the first time I’ve been since 2005. This means it was also the first time that I had seen the Steel clad Cold War Hangar. To be honest I was not impressed. There are some great aircraft within its confines but trying to take pictures of them is almost a pointless exercise. The three ‘V’ bombers are present but the Vulcan is the only one that you can get anywhere near framing. From the walkway you can look down on the Avro York but the nose is partly under the walkway. If you go downstairs the lighting is dreadful and a tank is parked in front of the starboard wing. The HP Hastings has a DC-3 almost on its roof (see pic below) and smaller aircraft are strung from the rafters amidst a load of girders. Pretty much one of the worst museum display areas I have come across, especially for a major museum.

The other hangars are better. The placement of information boards is always frustrating but I accept that they have to be there and it is possible to get the odd reasonable picture but now that some of the former Hendon exhibits are also on site there is an element of squashing things in. I think less could be more in fact but as the museum, apart from parking, is free its hard to really complain.

Overall though it is an interesting place and great company made for an enjoyable day out.

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