An evening of Vintage Aviation
Welcome to this latest edition of Aerodrome and our regular look at the fascinating world of aeroplanes and the historic aviation scene in the UK. With the first Duxford Airshow of 2019 now behind us, the UK is only weeks away from some of the largest and most significant aviation related events to be staged anywhere in the world, with enthusiasts very much looking forward to shows such as Daks over Duxford (for the 75th anniversary of D-Day), the Flying Legends Warbird extravaganza and the annual phenomenon which is the Royal International Air Tattoo, during what will be the busiest Airshow period of the year. With such fantastic events as this to look forward to, there can be no doubting that the UK based enthusiast must count themselves extremely fortunate, as far as the variety of aviation related events available to them is concerned, even though the past few years has witnessed quite a number of established shows disappearing from the schedule due to ever increasing costs and changing event regulations. Although we still have an impressive number of Airshows available to us, this general reduction in numbers over the past few years has certainly been a cause of concern amongst enthusiasts and the general public alike and for that reason, news of a new and exciting aviation event is something which many will want to hear about. In the latest edition of Aerodrome, we join our friends at the Historic Aircraft Collection to discuss their plans to bring a unique Vintage Aviation Evening to the Airshow calendar, offering those in attendance a much more personal aviation experience than that offered by larger shows.
As we are now entering the main period of Airshow events around Europe, could we please ask Aerodrome readers to share a selection of their pictures with us, if they are heading out to a show, so we can post them on the blog and let readers who were unable to attend certain shows enjoy a photographic flavour of these events. We would be particularly keen to hear from people attending shows outside the UK, as many of us rarely have the opportunity to indulge our aviation passion overseas. For anyone kind enough to help us, please could I ask if you would be good enough to send your pictures and/or reviews to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org contact e-mail address. Right then, who wants to get a little closer to a unique collection of classic British aeroplanes?
Historic Aircraft Collection ‘At Home’ expanded
HAC’s ‘At Home Day’ events have proved to be incredibly popular over the years and offer attendees a much more immersive aviation experience
For a great many people around the world, aeroplanes and anything aviation related is a particular fascination which has captivated them for most of their lives and no matter how stressful their days may be, immersing themselves in this subject for just a few precious moments can be a rather effective escape mechanism from all the madness of modern life. Spending a few moments flicking through the pages of your favourite aviation magazine, or dare I say, catching up with the latest edition of Aerodrome, provides a brief respite from normality and helps us to shut out the world for just a short while. As enjoyable as this might be, there is no substitute for actually getting close to aircraft and for most of us, that will involve our attendance at one of the many Airshow events which take place across the globe, with both flying and static aircraft displays arranged for the viewing pleasure of appreciative audiences. These events usually attract large crowds and whilst there is always plenty to see and do, the scale of modern Airshows can sometimes leave people feeling that the day’s activities are going on around them, rather than involving them. Thankfully, for those looking for a slightly more intimate aviation experience, a number of forward thinking operators spotted an opportunity around these established aviation events and offered much smaller groups of people the chance to get closer to the aeroplanes which thrill them at Airshows up and down the country and to introduce them to the pilots and engineers who look after these precious aircraft and make these displays possible.
With their unique aircraft collection based at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford site, the Historic Aircraft Collection are quite ‘high profile’ when it comes to the affections of the UK aviation enthusiast, with their aeroplanes regularly taking part in the Airshow events staged at this famous airfield, with most usually visible in one of the hangars during any Duxford museum visit. For that reason, their decision to launch a series of HAC ‘At Home’ days, where small groups of people were invited to enjoy a more immersive aviation experience, proved to be an instant success and offered attendees the opportunity to gain unprecedented access to this magnificent collection of historic aircraft. With places strictly limited to around thirty people, as the enthusiast word began to circulate following the completion of the first events, subsequent At Home Days saw their ticket allocations snapped up almost as soon as they became available, with these special events now becoming an important part of Historic Aircraft Collection operations. The question was, with this being such a successful event formula, how could they roll a similar format out to slightly larger audiences? Clearly, this question will have been the subject of much deliberation and discussion over recent months and we are pleased to inform our readers that all this effort has resulted in the recent announcement of an exciting new event on the UK display circuit, a Vintage Aviation Evening. We were fortunate enough to be allowed on the other side the ropes inside the hangar housing most of the HAC collection at the recent Duxford Air Festival, to discuss the forthcoming event with a member of the team and to grab a couple of unusual pictures of their aircraft, as they prepared to take centre stage at the forthcoming evening event.
One of the highest profile aircraft in the HAC fleet, Supermarine Spitfire Vb BM597 regularly performs at Airshows both in the UK and across Europe. She is presented as an aircraft to mark the significant contribution of Polish airmen during WWII
With a collection of airworthy aircraft which spans arguably the most fascinating period in British aviation, from the early days of aerial warfare, to the famous fighter aircraft of the Second World War, the Historic Aircraft Collection own and operate a unique assemblage of aeroplanes, the like of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Perhaps most famous for their Spitfire and Hurricane, which both display at numerous events both here in the UK and in Europe, the collection can also boast airworthy examples of a Hawker Fury Mk.I, Hawker Nimrod II and only relatively recently, a magnificent De Havilland DH-9 Great War bomber. Representing something of a home grown Airshow in their own right, this collection of historic aeroplanes have never been displayed together at a UK aviation event, however, this situation is about to change very soon, with their first Vintage Aviation Evening taking place on 22nd June this year. A collaboration with IWM Duxford, this event will offer the opportunity for people to attend one of the few ‘after hours’ events to be held at Duxford airfield and the first dedicated evening flying event of its kind. Significantly, this inaugural event will allow those in attendance to have close access to the aircraft assembled for the evening, including the opportunity to take some unique close access photographs of these historic aeroplanes, before the commencement of the evening’s flying displays. With the emphasis very much on providing a much more ‘intimate’ aviation experience, this will be something like an expanded HAC Open Day and will include an additional collection of guest aircraft, invited to take part in both the flying and static displays. My understanding is that the emphasis on the evening will be for attendees to experience the thrill of classic aviation at close hand, meeting some of the personalities involved in the restoration and operation of these classic aeroplanes and to fill their senses with the intoxicating sights, sounds and smells associated with these magnificent machines.
Rhapsody in natural metal. Hawker Fury Mk.I K5674 is the only remaining airworthy example of this beautiful aircraft and something of a ‘jewel in the crown’ of the HAC collection. She has been polished to perfection, ahead of her starring role at the Vintage Aviation Evening
The Vintage Aviation Evening represents something of a new direction for Duxford and I am sure that I speak for all Aerodrome readers when I say that I hope the event will be a resounding success for everyone involved and a successful new formula for British aviation events in the future. The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday 22nd June and is by advance ticket purchase only – full details can be obtained from the IWM website. As well as offering close access photographic opportunities to the HAC fleet, it is intended that a number of guest aircraft are also expected to be in attendance, with a Fokker Triplane, De Havilland DH 51, de Havilland Rapide and SE5a amongst those currently scheduled to attend. Weather and aircraft serviceability will clearly be an issue, as they are with all Airshow events, so for the latest news and confirmation of guest aircraft attendance, please keep checking the HAC Facebook page. This event will be taking place after the museum has closed and access will only be permitted on the production of your ticket, which must be obtained in advance. With attendees encouraged to wear vintage attire and many other on-site activities and events taking place, such as a book launch and exclusive print availability, this is already shaping up to be a memorable occasion, even though we have saved arguably the greatest attraction until last.
De Havilland DH9 to grace the skies
For many, the main reason they will be attending the inaugural Duxford Vintage Flying Evening is to be present at the first public display of the recently restored De Havilland DH9 WWI bomber
With the recent centenary commemorations of the end of the Great War still fresh in many people’s minds, the undoubted highlight of the Vintage Aviation Evening will be the first public display flight of the recently restored De Havilland DH9, the only airworthy example of this aircraft in the world. One of the first British aircraft designed specifically as a strategic bomber, the DH9 was a development of the highly regarded Airco DH4 already in RFC service and was intended to wreak havoc on the German lines on the Western Front. Able to carry either two 230lb or four 112lb bombs carried under the aircraft’s wings, the DH9 also boasted significant defensive armament, with a forward firing Vickers machine gun operated by the pilot and either one, or two Lewis guns mounted on a scarf ring and fired by the observer. Although the aircraft was promoted as a significant improvement over its predecessor, the DH9 was plagued by persistent engine reliability issues and even though numerous different engine combinations were tried during its service career, the aircraft is still remembered as something of a disappointment. Despite this, as the DH9 occupies such a significant position in the history of the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force and is a really handsome aeroplane when viewed from any angle, the opportunity to see the world’s only flying example in the air above one of the world’s most historic aerodromes is one which aviation enthusiasts will find hard to resist and should ensure the popularity of this inaugural evening flying event.
View from the cockpit. Restored to exacting standards, the floor of the DH9’s cockpit includes a rudimentary bombsight, attended to assist with the accurate delivery of its relatively significant bomb load.
Period protection. During our ‘over the ropes’ opportunity at the recent Duxford Air Festival, we were fortunate enough to meet re-enactors Dave and Helen, who looked resplendent by the side of the DH9
Discovered lying abandoned in India along with two other DH9 airframes, the deal to secure the three aircraft involved negotiations with the Indian Government and an agreement with the Imperial War Museum, but still took three years of effort to conclude. With all three airframes safely back in the UK, a concerted period of restoration was started on the completion of two aircraft, with the work carried out by Retrotec Ltd, the restoration arm of the Historic Aircraft Collection. One of the aircraft was intended to be completed to static display standard for the Imperial War Museum, with the other earmarked for possible restoration to flying condition – interestingly, both now reside at Duxford, which can claim to be the world’s most significant venue for complete examples of the De Havilland DH9. The first project to be unveiled was D5649, which is now on display in the huge AirSpace facility near the entrance to the IWM Duxford and is displayed in close proximity to such other classic British bombers as the Avro Lancaster and the Avro Vulcan, in a unique display representing the development of Britain’s bomber aircraft. The second aircraft, E-8894 (G-CDLI), continued with its restoration into 2018 and throughout a year which marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, news began to circulate that the triumphant first flight of this unique aircraft may not be too far away. In the end, even though the aircraft was seen out on the airfield at Duxford, only engine tests were conducted during 2018 and it would be 2019 before this first post restoration flight could take place. If we manage to see the DH9 fly during the Vintage Aviation Evening, it will be the first public display of the aircraft and significantly, the sight of the only original airworthy Great War bomber flying anywhere in the world – something certainly worth travelling to Duxford for.
Soft light and classic aeroplanes
Photographers will be keen to catch the classic aeroplanes of the Historic Aircraft Collection in the favourable evening sunlight at Duxford. Not a HAC aircraft, but another Hawker classic, TFC’s Hawker Sea Fury T.20 was captured at the end of a recent Duxford Airshow
As one of the most popular Airshow venues in the country, Duxford has become familiar to millions of people in the post war years and is synonymous with the display of historic piston engined aircraft. With their annual series of events regularly attracting large crowds, one thing any Duxford regular will tell you is that photography can often be something of a challenge at this airfield, with the position of the sun affecting picture taking for most of the day. On numerous occasions, the most appealing light falls at the end of the show, when aircraft are either being taken back to the protection of their hangars, or taking off to return to their home airfields and usually just before museum officials are politely reminding people that the site is about to close and inviting everyone to return to their vehicles. For this reason, the opportunity to stay a little later at Duxford is something which will be of interest to many aviation photographers and will undoubtedly be one of the major attractions at the forthcoming Vintage Aviation Evening. The prospect of seeing a collection of unique historic aeroplanes under the soft glow of Cambridgeshire’s evening sunlight may well produce some of our most appealing images of the year, that is if the event organisers have also managed to arrange for a beautiful clear, summers evening on the 22nd June. Whatever happens, Aerodrome are pleased to announce that we will be in attendance at this first Duxford Vintage Aviation Evening and look forward to bringing you full details of what is promising to be a really enjoyable new event in a forthcoming edition of our blog.
Stars of the show. This unique collection of historic aircraft will be available for close inspection during this fantastic new event concept on the evening of 22nd June 2019
Thanks to our good friends at the Historic Aircraft Collection, we are pleased to be in a position to offer one lucky Aerodrome reader the chance to join us at Duxford’s Vintage Aviation Evening by winning a pair of VIP tickets to the event on 22nd June. As well as allowing you access to the event itself, you will also have the opportunity to meet some of the personalities behind the event and be given a walk-around tour of at least one of the magnificent HAC aircraft on display. In order to take advantage of this prize, our winner will have to make their own way to Duxford in time for the 6.30pm opening and I am afraid there is no alternative prize should they subsequently find they are unable to attend. With those important caveats out of the way, let’s tell you how you can be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize – simply head to our Aerodrome competitions page on the Airfix website where you will find all the relevant competition details you may need, along with a simple De Havilland DH9 related question for you to answer. The competition will close on Wednesday 12th June, allowing us plenty of time to get the tickets delivered in time for the event – our lucky winner will be selected at random from the list of correct entries and their success will be confirmed in the next edition of Aerodrome, which is due to be published on Friday 14th June. Good luck to everyone who enters.
Latest developments at Newark Air Museum
One of the largest aircraft exhibits at the superb Newark Air Museum, Avro Vulcan XM594 is about to undergo something of a presentation facelift
Our friends at the Newark Air Museum have asked us to inform readers about some of the latest developments taking place at the museum, which we are only too happy to do. Earlier this month, they embarked on a hugely ambitious restoration and repainting project, this time with their mighty Avro Vulcan XM594 as the focus of their attentions. The work will be carried out with significant support of the aircraft’s owners, Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association and as was the case with a similar repainting project which took place recently on the Avro Shackleton, it will commence with the erection of a scaffolding platform, initially installed around the tail of the Vulcan. This will allow the de-corroding, rubbing down and repainting of the fin and rudder to be carried out in a safe and efficient manner. It is also anticipated that some panel fabrication work may also need to be completed, with this important work being carried out by a team of museum volunteers. Whilst the scaffolding is in place, investigation work will also take place into the condition of the spine panels on the centre section of the upper fuselage, with the aim of this investigation being to assess the scope of any future restoration work which may be required on this area of the airframe.
The museum anticipates that the scaffolding structure will be in place throughout the rest of the summer and whilst not being particularly photogenic, it will mark an important period in the preservation of this aircraft will help with her long-term restoration. Avro Vulcan XM594 was flown into the former RAF Winthorpe airfield from RAF Waddington on Monday 7th February 1983 and at that time she was the only Vulcan disposed of by the RAF to be flown into a non-licensed airfield.
As an additional benefit for Cockpit-Fest visitors, several of the museum’s exhibits will be available for closer inspection throughout the weekend
In a further development, preparations for this year’s Cockpit-Fest event are well underway at Newark Air Museum’s site in eastern Nottinghamshire, close to the border with Lincolnshire. Newark Air Museum is a registered charity located on part of the former site of RAF Winthorpe and the annual two day Cockpit-Fest event attracts exhibitors from across the UK and Europe to sample what one former aviation magazine editor described as the “grass roots aircraft preservation”. This will be the twentieth time that like-minded enthusiasts have displayed their aircraft cockpit sections at the museum, with Cockpit-Fest now having become a popular fixture on the aviation events calendar. Every year, the event attracts many visiting cockpits and associated displays and allows their owners the chance to display their prized exhibits for the benefit of fellow enthusiasts and the general public. At this year’s event, a diverse range of aircraft types will be represented, including a range of military jet cockpits featuring examples of the English Electric Lightning, BAe Harrier, Hawker Hunter, Blackburn Buccaneer and Hunting Percival Jet Provost. For this year’s event, the museum’s own volunteers are also gearing up to provide the visitors with the opportunity to look inside some of our aircraft, which will include the rare opportunity to view normally inaccessible aircraft, such as the ex-Russian MiG fighters and the American T-33 trainer. With additional training sessions having been held at the museum, we have trained more volunteers to be qualified to support these open cockpit opportunities, which we know will prove incredibly popular over the weekend of the show.
Cockpit-Fest 2019 takes place on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June and will be sited in a single large area on the museum’s Southfield site, alongside an Aeroboot/Aerojumble aviation and avionics sale. Here, enthusiasts and the general public can search out those aviation artefacts, books and models which they find so fascinating. The event is supported by a range of organisations and individuals and visitors are encouraged to have a say in deciding which is the best cockpit on display, by voting on their favourite, with prizes awarded once the results have been collated. Cockpit-Fest also attracts other visiting displays like local history / military vehicle groups, re-enactors and even more aviation related displays, such as clothing and historical artefacts. As an added bonus for those attending this year’s event, aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be performing a flypast on both days of the show. Full details about the events can be found on the museum events page of their website.
I am afraid that is all we have for you in this latest edition of Aerodrome, but we will be back as usual in two weeks’ time with more aviation related content for your enjoyment. As always, if you have any ideas for a future edition of Aerodrome, or if you would like to supply a feature of your own which will be of interest to our worldwide aviation readership, please send your suggestions to our regular contact e-mail address at email@example.com, where we will be delighted to hear from you.
For those who enjoy time spent contributing to social media, all the latest Aerodrome and aviation related discussions are taking place right now on the Airfix Aerodrome Forum, where your contributions will be most welcome. Again, 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 your thoughts. We also have our popular Airfix Facebook and Corgi Facebook pages, along with Airfix Twitter or Corgi Twitter accounts available for viewing – please could we ask that you use #aerodrome when posting about an aerodrome topic.
The next edition of Aerodrome is due to be published on Friday 14th June, where we look forward to bringing you even more interesting aviation related features.
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