Monday, 26 July 2010

RIAT Fairford

Last weekend saw the annual Royal Interational Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. Although still the worlds largest display of military airpower, attending aircraft numbers were noticeably down due in part to commitments of the various air arms that attend, as well as budgetary constraints.

Nevertheless, there were still were still some 200 aircraft in attendance with participants from the UK, USA, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. Amongst those, 4 countries, (UK, France, Jordan and Switzerland) had their display teams present.

Its difficult to say what the "best" aircraft was...personally for me it was the Sukhoi Su-22M (photo above) from Poland, largely as its (a) Russian manufactured and (b) its rarity. Whereas I have seen Su-22's before, a Polish one is definitely a first. And these aircraft won't be around for much longer...Poland plans to retire its remaining fleet within the next 2 years, which will leave few, if any Su-22's operational in Europe.

Other "stars of the show" include the F-22 Raptor from the US (above) plus 2 aircraft which go right back to the days of the Cold War; the B-52 Stratofortress, still in front line service with the USAF after more than 50 years (and they plan to keep them flying for at least another 20 years), and the recently restored, but civilian owned, Avro Vulcan delta-wing bomber which dates back to the 1950's (below)

Most numerous aircraft present was the F-16 Fighting Falcon (above). This highly acclaimed fighter has been in constant production since the late 70's, with various upgrades over the years and is in service with many NATO and several non-NATO air forces. A Royal Netherlands Air Force example is pictured above.

To appreciate the real power of such aircraft, a good place to be is, as I was, at the point that they start their take off run close to the end of the runway. The noise of the afterburners can be quite deafening though, as this departing RAF Tornado adequately demonstrated!

But its not all fast jets, there were several transport aircraft, trainers and helicopters present. Above a German Navy Sea King helicopter is seen hovering just prior to its departure. Below a French Army Gazelle is hover taxiing to the departure point.

More pictures from Fairford to follow soon.

Hawker Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane is a regular at most UK airshows. Aside from those in museums there are actually 14 such aircraft currently in the UK either airworthy or in the process of being restored to flying condition. This one however is unique, being the only airworthy Sea Hurricane, one of about 250 standard Hurricane's that were converted to for use off ships during the 2nd World War. Both photo's were taken at Old Warden earlier this month.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Old Warden - Part Two

One of themes of this particular event was to host a selection of types from the famous Miles Aircraft company. They did not disappoint! These opening photo's show the graceful lines of a privately owned Miles Gemini. This particular example, G-AKKH, was built in 1948 and is one of 7 surviving examples in the UK today.

Several other Miles aircraft attended, including the only airworthy Miles Falcon, 2 Miles Magister's, 2 Miles Messengers and the sleek racer, the Miles Hawk Speed Six. The lattter, capable of speeds of up to 200 mph has an incredible record of longevity in air races over the years....its first in 1935, and its last competitive event was (I believe) the 1973 Kings Cup air race.

Above, the Miles Falcon in formation with one of the Magisters.
Below, the racing pedigree of the 1935 Hawk Speed Six is self evident.

And as a fitting tribute to the display of Miles aircraft, Mr J J Miles, the son of Mr F G Miles, the founder of Miles Aircraft, was also present, displaying in his own Russian Yak-52.

These pictures from my last two posts are only a selection of the 50 or so unique and historic aircraft that were on display!

Old Warden

The UK airshow season is well upon us. Despite being in an "age of austerity" the selection of events taking place is impressive and no weekend goes by between May and October without an airshow or fly-in somewhere in the country. The sheer number of such events far exceeds those in any of our European neighbours, and to the best of my knowledge only the USA has more.

Above, a Tiger Moth leads the worlds last surviving Southern Martlet , one of only 6 ever built in 1930.

For the aviation enthusiast and photographer Old Warden offers a unique chance to see increasingly rare British aircraft types take to the air. This privately owned airfield is home to the Shuttleworth Trust which owns a truly impressive collection of rare vintage aircraft, many of which continue to fly regularly. They also have flying replica's of aircraft where the originals have either been long lost or are not capable of flight.

Above, quite possibly unique and maybe never to be repeated...the worlds only airworthy Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hind in close formation.
Below, designed for competition purposes in 1924, the only ANEC II ever built, and one of the oldest airworthy civil aircraft in the world today.

The collection of aircraft is open to the public every day, however to see them fly, visit on one of the several flying days they hold throughout the year. For details go to:

Friday, 23 July 2010


Smaller, noisy, inquisitive and bolder than other members of the crow family, the Jackdaw is a common sight throughout the country, having adapted to both urban and rural life. For those that are used to humans in close proximity they can be fun to watch, strutting around (they have a very upright stance), cackling, looking for pickings and seemingly daring each other to get closer to a food source. And when you get up close they don't always fly away; some jump out of the way, others stand their ground...particularly if there is food nearby (those pictured were closely watching an occupied table outside a cafe). Like the Magpie, they do have a reputation (not undeserved) for taking bright objects, such as rings and the like, and have been known to take such items when left by an open window.

I'm back!

Having been gently reminded by various persons who shall remain nameless, I'll try to spend some more time on my blog!

So first up we have a Goldfinch, or I should say the return of the Goldfinch (see one of my older postings). By far the most colourful of the finch family, these are still comparitively elusive when compared to the more common Chaffinch and Greenfinch. However this year, for the first time, we have had a pair nesting nearby and they have been regular visitors to our garden since March. They are however far more timid than the above named and the slightest movement seems to scare them off. Thats my excuse for the picture quality!