Aerodrome 100 at East Kirkby Airshow
Welcome to this latest edition of Aerodrome and our regular delve into the fascinating world of aeroplanes and the historic aviation scene in the UK. Friday 17th April 2015 proved to be a significant date in the history of our blog and saw both the Airfix and Corgi websites publishing the very first edition of an exciting new initiative, aimed at anyone with an interest in aviation. Entitled ‘Aerodrome’, this new blog aimed to bring our readers interesting features and exclusive images on the subject of aviation, using contemporary and archive material, reporting from events taking place around the country and anything else aviation related we felt would be of interest. From these humble beginnings, our readership began to increase steadily, as did our ambitions for the blog. With new subscribers joining in their hundreds following the posting of each new edition, it certainly seemed as if aeroplanes and aviation history was still of interest to a great many people and we were determined to serve this growing on-line community. This latest blog represents quite a significant achievement for the Aerodrome team and proves that it is not just the Royal Air Force who are celebrating a centenary this year – 100 editions of our Aerodrome blog have now been published.
In the very first edition of Aerodrome, we featured an icon of British aviation which has probably provoked more discussion and strong feeling than any other jet aircraft of the post war era, the hugely impressive British Aircraft Corporation TSR.2. On the auspicious occasion of our Centenary Edition, a famous British aeroplane takes centre stage once more, as we head for a former WWII Bomber Command airfield and the current home of one of Britain’s best loved historic aircraft, Avro Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’. Our destination is East Kirkby airfield and the annual Airshow of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which took advantage of our exceptional summer weather to produce a feast of flying entertainment, all performed under the watchful gaze of the airfield’s famous Avro veteran. We will also be announcing a spectacular 100th Edition competition for you all to enter, with a unique Lancaster related prize awaiting our very lucky winner. All this and more can be found in the Centenary Edition of Aerodrome.
Engaging with aviation history
With an iconic Avro Lancaster positioned right next to an East Kirkby Airshow crowd, it is no wonder that these events continue to sell out year after year
For anyone with even the slightest interest in aviation, attending one of the UK’s many Airshow events can be an extremely memorable occasion, with the opportunity not only to view a fascinating collection of aircraft displaying for your pleasure, but also being in the company of people who also share your passion for aeroplanes. These shows can vary significantly in both scale and content, with some enthusiasts preferring the size and unrivalled content of events like the Royal International Air Tattoo, whilst others prefer the much more relaxed aviation experience afforded by one of the smaller, arguably more engaging events, such as those arranged by the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden. With so many events available to the UK based enthusiast each year, we are not short of options when it comes to Airshows and if we wished to do so, we are in a position to be able to enjoy either, or both of these types of Airshows within the space of just a few weeks, should we wish to do so.
One of the country’s smaller Airshow events took place at East Kirkby Airfield, home of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre on Saturday 4th August and Aerodrome was privileged to attend the show, which is now Lincolnshire’s largest independent Airshow. Offering visitors something of a unique Airshow experience, the event has a restricted attendance limit of just 5000 places and as a consequence, allows those who are lucky enough to secure a ticket to feel more engaged with all the aviation activities going on around them. All profits from the show are allocated towards the on-going restoration of the Centre’s magnificent Avro Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ and their ambitious project to return this famous aircraft to airworthy status once more. Still very much a star attraction at any East Kirkby Airshow, the Lancaster stands majestically at the head of the crowd-line, watching over the day’s proceedings, with its wings reaching out to welcome the latest gathering of her supporters, who are all intent on helping to ensure her continued well-being.
‘Just Jane’ welcomes her latest gathering of supporters, who have now become accustomed to spending some quality time with her at the annual Airshow
The show is run by a small, enthusiastic and extremely energetic team from the Aviation Heritage Centre, who have earned an enviable reputation in ensuring that East Kirkby shows always serve up an enjoyable day’s entertainment for all those in attendance. Having said that, organising an Airshow event must be an extremely challenging and time consuming endeavour, which appears to throw up new issues and obligations with each passing year. Apart from the obvious need to ensure the safety of everyone on the airfield and to provide adequate facilities and ground based attractions for your visitors, there are now additional considerations to be factored in, such as altered flying display lines and road closures around the airfield for the duration of the flying display. All of these tasks undoubtedly mean more work and additional expense for the already hard working show organising team. Add to this the usual Airshow uncertainties of pilot availability, aircraft serviceability and the good old British weather and you have a series of challenges which can continue right up until the first aircraft takes off for its display slot. For a large team, these factors must induce regular headaches, however for the smaller show, this must be more like a living nightmare and would certainly not be a job which many people would want to take on – thankfully, some very talented (and resilient) people do and we should all raise a glass to them.
This year’s LAHC show appeared to present the small organising team with more aircraft availability problems than usual and required some very last minute programme adjustments and undoubtedly calling in one or two favours in the process, so much so that some of the aircraft taking part didn’t actually make it into the programme, which incidentally is the best values publication of any Airshow, priced at an unbelievably low £1.00. Despite these frustrations for the organisers, the sell out crowd simply turned up as usual, safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens, East Kirkby’s main Airshow of the year always has a varied and interesting display line up and an enjoyable day of flying entertainment will be had by all.
The magnificent sight which keeps people coming back to this quiet corner of Lincolnshire – A Lancaster bomber on the site of a former WWII Lancaster station
Although everyone attending an Airshow will undoubtedly be looking forward to an exciting day of flying activities, the show at East Kirkby airfield really does have something of an unfair advantage above other events. The ability to visit the home of Britain’s ‘second’ Avro Lancaster, on the site of a former WWII Bomber Command airfield which operated Lancasters from the summer of 1943 until the end of the war, is very special indeed and well worth the extremely reasonable £20.00 entrance fee alone – certainly as far as I was concerned, everything else on the day was a fortunate bonus. Thankfully though, as this was an East Kirkby show, we could all rely on the fact that there would be plenty of these 'fortunate bonuses' to look forward to.
‘Just Jane’ welcomes historic new resident to her home
An added bonus - many visitors to this year’s show would not have been expecting to see this magnificent Mosquito out on the airfield
If the prospect of seeing the four mighty Merlin engines of an Avro Lancaster firing into life were not reason enough to have enthusiasts rushing to Lincolnshire, the airfield at East Kirkby has relatively recently welcomed a rather famous new aviation resident to their facility, which can boast a pair of Merlin engines of its own. De Havilland Mosquito NF.ll Nightfighter HJ711 is owned by Tony Agar and its long running restoration to ground running and potential taxy demonstration condition has been his labour of love for a great many years. A long-time resident at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, the decision was taken early last year to re-locate the Mosquito to East Kirkby, where it would have access to facilities which were better suited to allowing Tony’s dream of finally seeing his aircraft moving under its own power becoming a reality. The fact that it would be joining one of Britain’s most famous historic aircraft at its new home made this development of huge interest to aviation enthusiasts, who have been following the project closely, ever since it was first rumoured. Disassembled at Elvington and transported by road to East Kirkby at the end of July 2017, this latest Airshow would be the first public appearance for the Mosquito since it has been fully re-assembled and also offered the tantalising prospect of potentially seeing these two WWII aviation stalwarts positioned together for the first time at a public Airshow. This would prove to be a significant if slightly unexpected benefit for those in attendance at this year’s show.
These smaller events have a real charm about them, as everyone feels much more engaged with the day’s proceedings. These period re-enactors add much to the enjoyment of any Airshow
What a stunning sight. ‘Just Jane’s’ new friend is going to prove equally popular with the East Kirkby crowds in the years to come
As the crowds were allowed access to the site and rushed to take their positions for the day, they all had to walk passed where the beautiful Mosquito had been placed for the show, the sight of which stopped many in their tracks. Positioned at the side and in front of the old control tower, the aircraft was fenced off in an attempt to prevent too much physical attention being paid to this aviation celebrity, which did make photography rather difficult, but the benefit of suitably attired re-enactors and the opportunity to speak to members of the Mosquito team more than made up for this. Surely what must have been on everyone’s mind was if we would have the opportunity to see the Mosquito displayed next to the Lancaster at some point during the day, with the resultant pictures being amongst the highlights of many people’s RAF Centenary year. Although we didn’t know it at the time, for those who didn’t rush off at the end of the show, the organisers had already planned to place the two icons of British aviation next to each other following the end of the flying display and as this occurred in the soft evening light of a fine summer’s evening, it even seemed as if the sun was keen to catch a glimpse of this magnificent aviation spectacle.
A highlight of the day for many was the early evening opportunity to photograph these two icons of the British historic aviation scene positioned next to each other at East Kirkby
If I thought that the opportunity to see a beautifully restored Avro Lancaster on a former WWII Bomber Command station was worth the show entrance fee alone, the sight of one standing guard over its new Mosquito hangar mate as it made its spectacular East Kirkby Airshow debut was surely worth paying double, but as it was, this was just one of the added benefits this enjoyable show produced for its latest group of guests. Hardly able to believe our good fortune, this aviation treat took place during the best spell of weather of the entire day and ensured that many of the photographers still on site significantly delayed the start of their journey home – after all, it is not every day you get to see a Lancaster and Mosquito posing for photographs in the early evening sunshine. In fact, this proved to be such a captivating sight that the only way to finally disperse the crowd was to break up this enigmatic duo and tow the Mosquito back to the protection of its hangar. Hopefully, this is now the start of an exciting new chapter in the history of this famous aircraft and indeed the history of these popular Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre annual Airshows. Something tells me that once the Mosquito is able to perform taxy runs at the airfield, the 5000 event tickets will be disappearing faster than ever. We will be producing a full article based around Mosquito HJ711 in a forthcoming edition of Aerodrome, looking at its amazing restoration, the team behind the aircraft and their plans for its future, so please keep an eye out for this.
Lancaster NX611 up close and personal
Star of the show. The crowds return to the East Kirkby Airshow year after year for the opportunity to spend some time in the company of Avro Lancaster ‘Just Jane’
Undoubtedly, the main reason why thousands of visitors flock to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is to have the opportunity to get close to a famous aircraft which has been resident at this former RAF Bomber Command airfield since 1987 and has become one of the best loved historic aircraft on the British aviation scene, Avro Lancaster B Mk.Vll NX611. The aircraft serves not only as a surviving example of one of Britain’s most famous wartime aircraft, but also as a poignant living memorial to the men of Bomber Command and more specifically the Lancaster crews and ground support personnel who served at RAF East Kirkby during the Second World War. Her popularity has dictated that she is now usually referred to by the attractive nose artwork which adorns the port front fuselage of the bomber and if you were to mention the name ‘Just Jane’, most enthusiasts would know exactly which aircraft you were talking about. The Lancaster is now a significant tourist attraction for the entire county of Lincolnshire and the relatively recent announcement that her owners have embarked on the ambitious undertaking to return this impressive aircraft to airworthy condition once more has only served to increase her already significant profile. With the future prospect of having two airworthy examples of the Avro Lancaster based in Lincolnshire and only a few miles apart, East Kirkby is surely destined to become an even more popular tourist and enthusiast destination in the years to come, as this part of the world can once more proudly proclaim itself to be 'Bomber County'.
In editions 63 and 64 of Aerodrome, we visited East Kirkby and were allowed access to Lancaster NX611 whilst she was undergoing her winter maintenance programme and the first steps on her journey to once again achieving airworthy status. With all her paint removed down to bare metal, these blogs offer a fascinating insight into both how a Lancaster was constructed during WWII and the enormity of the task facing the restoration team over the next few years. If you have not already seen these two features, they are both still available and can be accessed by clicking on the relevant edition number links above. If you would like to help support the team in ensuring the Lancaster takes to the skies once more, they would be extremely grateful if you would consider joining their Rivet Club and making a regular contribution, however small that may be, in helping to fund the significant costs associated with this undertaking. Full details of how you can get involved are displayed on the LAHC website.
When you can come away with pictures like these, it is no wonder that East Kirkby has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Lincolnshire
Although not currently an airworthy aircraft, Lancaster NX611 is still very much the star act at any East Kirkby show and as well as making herself available as an impressive static display item, she also performs a number of taxy runs along the length of the crowd-line during the afternoon’s proceedings. With all four of the aircraft’s mighty Rolls-Royce Merlin engines roaring into life and this Avro classic trundling towards the end of the runway, this allows everyone in attendance to get some idea of what it must have been like to have an entire squadron of Lancasters preparing to take off from East Kirkby during WWII, just before embarking on their latest operation. From the relatively confined surroundings of this former RAF station, there is no doubting that this is a powerful aviation experience and one which certainly keeps the crowds coming back year after year to this always sold out event.
'Target for today'
A fiery start for the Lancaster’s outer port Merlin as she prepares for her second taxy run demonstration of the day
If the opportunity to see and hear a mighty Lancaster bomber accelerating down the predominantly grass strip at East Kirkby were not experience enough, the owners of the aircraft also offer the opportunity for visitors to completely immerse themselves in Lancaster indulgence and take advantage of one of their Taxy Ride packages. Indeed, on the two taxy runs the aircraft made during this year’s show, several lucky passengers were taking advantage of just such an opportunity and would get to experience an unusual view of the Airshow crowds watching them being part of the show’s entertainment. Without doubt, the Heritage Centre’s most appealing offering is to book your place on one of their VIP Day Lancaster Taxy experience days, which are so popular that they only take place on a limited number of occasions each year and allow 20 people (10 on each trip) to enjoy a full day of sheer Lancaster indulgence. Usually taking place mid-week on a normal Heritage Centre day, your day will begin at 9.30am with a briefing from either a Lancaster pilot or member of the ground crew, followed by the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the Lancaster from every angle, both inside and out.
The chance to ride in a Lancaster bomber on a former RAF airfield were Lancaster’s operated during the Second World War is an experience very few people can boast
Although this would be fascinating enough for many, the undoubted highlight of your day will be the chance to be on board the Lancaster with all four Merlin engines turning as it taxy’s along the length of the runway, the same runway which was once used by the operational Lancasters of Nos. 57 and 630 Squadrons, as they headed out on their latest bombing raids. With the VIP groups split into two, if your group is not actually inside the Lancaster, you will be stood on the airfield with a spectacular unobstructed view of the aircraft as it delights the other group, ensuring that you have the most complete Lancaster experience possible. It will come as no surprise to learn that places on these days are extremely popular and are by advanced booking only, with the next available places already being in the summer of 2019, but if this sounds like something you would like to treat yourself to, simply head for the Lancaster Taxy Rides section of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre website for full details.
The lucky 5000
Although the sight of a Lancaster and Mosquito together on the same former RAF airfield is ample subject enough for an entire Aerodrome blog, there were plenty of other attractions at the latest LAHC Airshow, from a performance by Britain’s Got Talent finalists the 'D-Day Darlings', to a full flying display, featuring some of the UK’s top aerobatic and display pilots, not to mention some of the world’s most famous historic aircraft. Indeed, there was far too much going on to condense into a single blog review, so we will re-visit the show a little later in the year – for now though, here is a final photographic record of some of the other highlights of this excellent show, which we hope you enjoy.
Bringing some aviation culture to the proceedings, this delightful little Bucker Bestmann was ideally suited to the more intimate surroundings of the East Kirkby show
The crowds at an East Kirkby show definitely feel more connected to the flying action which is taking place before them
Regulars at the East Kirkby Airshow are used to seeing North American Mustang fighters at close quarters, but this is the first time I had ever seen ‘Miss Helen’ at the show
Wearing the distinctive markings of the 352nd Fighter Group, this blue nosed beastie gave us a demonstration of WWII piston power
This agile T-28 Fennec really beat up the airfield and made full use of the pyrotechnics not used by the cancelled Great Warbirds Display Team
Britain’s Got Talent finalists the ‘D-Day Darlings’ had the perfect backdrop for their nostalgic performance at East Kirkby
How low can you go? Captain Neville’s Flying Circus is always a popular display item at East Kirkby, with the team thrilling the crowd with their flying talents
The Hawker Sea Fury is the epitome of speed and power, representing the pinnacle of piston engined fighter design
Next year marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Douglas C-47 Skytrain will have a big part to play in forthcoming commemorations
A last minute addition to the flying programme, the world’s only airworthy Bristol Blenheim put on a magnificent display and was a fitting finale for the 2018 show
Aerodrome Centenary Competition
This latest edition of Aerodrome marks the significant achievement of posting 100 editions of our aviation blog, something of which the entire Hornby Hobbies team are rightly proud. This is, of course, a shared achievement and would not have been possible without the continued support of our loyal readership and we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for helping us to make it to this significant Aerodrome milestone. In celebration, we could not let this occasion pass without having a little aviation related competition for our readers to enter and we have a quite spectacular prize awaiting our lucky winner. Bearing in mind the subject of this latest blog, I am certain that many of you have already guessed that our lucky winner will be taking their place on a future Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre ‘Just Jane’ Lancaster VIP Day Taxy ride, without doubt the most spectacular Lancaster experience available in Britain. Spending a full day at East Kirkby, this package includes early morning briefing, quality time with the Lancaster and the all important taxy ride itself, but also includes lunch and refreshments and the chance to have your photograph taken inside the Lancaster. This is a prize that anyone would love to win, not just an aircraft enthusiast and is by some margin, the most spectacular competition prize we have ever offered.
For the chance to win your VIP Lancaster day with ‘Just Jane’, simply head over to our Competitions Page, where you will find a Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre related question to answer, one which is linked to their famous Lancaster and as usual, there will be three possible answers for you to select from. Simply select your answer from the options available and send it off to us, then sit back and cross your fingers – one of the people reading this now will be taking their place on a future VIP Day at East Kirkby, for an aviation experience they will never forget. Our lucky winner will be selected at random and their name published in a future edition of Aerodrome - the competition itself will remain open until midnight on Thursday 23rd August, so you all have just under two weeks to get your entries to us. Good luck to all who enter and we look forward to documenting our winners VIP Day in a future edition of Aerodrome.
Important competition terms and conditions
A spectacular prize awaits our competition winner, but there are some important conditions which must be considered before placing your entry. The VIP Day package has already been purchased and there is no cash alternative available to our winner under any circumstances. Also, the prize is for a single winner and any additional requests for their day would have to be made at their own expense and by prior arrangement with the good people at the LAHC.
The date of the VIP Day has not been fixed yet and will be done so once our winner has been notified, but only after checking available dates with the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Finally, our winner will have to make their own way to East Kirkby, in order to enjoy this spectacular Lancaster experience day.
Our friends at the LAHC have also asked that we include a list of their Lancaster Taxy ride Terms and Conditions, to ensure that our winner has a thoroughly enjoyable experience on claiming their prize and is fully prepared for their day.
- Taxy riders must be able to board the Lancaster without any assistance and be able to exit the aircraft quickly should there be an emergency, without any assistance.
- Access to the Lancaster is by five steps with a hand rail. Riders have to be able to climb over the main spar which is 30inches high and 14 inches deep. There is a step up to this of 12 inches. The head space to climb over the spar in is 30 inches high and 32 inches wide. This area is an arc and the measurements are to the widest and highest points.
- Without being able to cross the main spar the rider would not be able to access the W/OP, Navigator, cockpit or nose areas of the aircraft. One of our 2 emergency exits is in the front of the aircraft and so it is important that the riders can cross the main spar in case the other exit cannot be used. The emergency escape route from the front and rear of the aircraft is by ladder and so riders must be able to use a ladder without assistance.
-Anyone undertaking the Lancaster taxy ride experience must be able to hear and follow verbal and visual instructions in noisy surroundings. This experience may not be suitable for anyone who has disabilities affecting mobility, concentration, dexterity and co-ordination.
- If we deem the rider unable to move around the aircraft with enough ease and sufficient speed to such an extent that they may put themselves and others at risk during an emergency then sadly it would not be possible for them to take part in the taxy ride. If this decision is made by the Centre upon the customers arrival then no refund will be given. We will permit you to transfer the place to someone else, under the same booking conditions but you must advise us of the details immediately they are known.
- In the case of a "date to be arranged" voucher the voucher must be redeemed before it expires. Expired vouchers will no longer be redeemable.
1. The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre reserve the right to change or cancel taxi run dates and times to undertake maintenance or major overhaul of the aircraft. In the event of a cancellation under these circumstances a full refund can be given or the date rearranged.
2. In the event of the customer cancelling the taxi ride within three weeks of the event a refund will only be given if the taxi ride place can be re-sold. The refund will be subject to 10% administration charges.
3. In the event of a cancellation by the customer before the three week deadline a refund can be given, subject to 10% administration charges or the date can be rearranged for a charge of £10.
4. If the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre cancels a taxi run due to weather conditions the taxi run date will be rearranged. A cancellation due to the weather can usually be made no earlier than the day of the taxi run. Under normal circumstances rain does not affect the ability to taxi the Lancaster.
5. If the participant has not arrived and booked in for the taxi ride at least an hour and a half before the run and no contact has been made with the Centre to inform them of a delay the place will go to re-sale in the hour and a half leading up to the taxy ride. If the rider then arrives within that time and the place has been re-sold because of their late arrival a new date will be arranged for the original rider and they will not be able to take the taxy ride on the date originally booked.
Well, that ended up being quite a long section, but it is important that everyone who enters the competition understands what the day entails and if they would be able to take advantage of this opportunity should they be lucky enough to win. Now it’s time to get cracking, so head straight for that Competitions Page and place your entry.
I am afraid that is it for this centenary edition of Aerodrome – thank you to everyone who has supported the blog in reaching this milestone and here’s to another 100 editions. Please send any suggestions you may have for future editions of Aerodrome to our regular contact e-mail addresses at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org where we will be only too pleased to hear from you.
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The next edition of Aerodrome is due to be published on Friday 24th August and we look forward to seeing you all back here then.
Once again, thank you for your continued support.
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