Saturday, 12 June 2010

A private air display before the Queen got to see it

photo cheekily used without permission

Today I went to lunch at Lizzie's, principally because her garden is on the flightpath from the North Sea to London for the Queen's Birthday Flypast. I had hoped to see the BBMF Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, but the Lanc is out of action having its undercarriage repaired and the other two were holding over Cambridge, ready to shoot straight south, to beat the faster aircraft there. But it was still very exciting to see the various formations of Tornados, VC10 in-flight refuellers, a Nimrod (hurrah!), a Tristar, Typhoons and the Red Arrows - shooting over at low level.

I took my VHF radio with me just in case I could catch something of them talking to Wattisham or wherever - it was a long shot, but it then meant that I texted Steve Wilson to ask his ex-RAF advice about frequencies etc - whether they would be on VHF instead of UHF at all, etc. And when the flypast was over I gave him a call.

It turns out that Steve was in the lead aircraft, a Tornado, on the 11th of June 1983! Now that is something impressive to have in your logbook! But he told me the best bit was doing the recce of the route, which he was partly responsible for planning. He described the exhileration of flying the route in a helicopter, then, because they were not allowed to fly up the mall before the big day, they peeled off and flew, at very low level and great speed along the Thames.

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