Well, where did the winter go?
Already it is spring, the clocks have shifted forward an hour and we are into April. The flying season is coming up fast and no doubt we will be once again working with Team Vulcan to help raise funds to keep our lovely aircraft flying. The bustle and noise of air shows means we need to get fit once again after our long winter lay off and so we have driven north to Lincolnshire and are sitting in the viewing area of RAF Coningsby. Compared to many athletes and sportsmen our fitness regime is not very onerous as it doesn’t involve any physical jerks or running or cycling. No, what we need to train are our ears to accept the frequent and loud jet noise that they are subject too all summer and what better way than to spend some time watching Tornado’s (aka Tonka’s) and Eurofighter Typhoons (aka Tiffies) taking off and landing.
We drove up to Lincolnshire on Sunday to one of our favourite sites at Oaklea, just outside Woodhall Spa and a short drive from the airfield at Coningsby. At this time of year Oaklea is looking lovely. The Magnolias are just coming into flower as are many of the other shrubs and trees and the most prominent sound is bird song. It is a real haven of peace and quiet.
Monday morning is misty and murky and the weather forecasters are warning of high levels of pollution and sand from the Sahara in the atmosphere. At least it is warm and as the day progresses the mist clears a bit and allows the sun to break through. We spend the day aircraft spotting and have an extra treat as the BBMF Dakota comes out to play. At 16:00 the Typhoon display aircraft was due to carry out a practice display and sure enough he took off just before his time slot and disappeared off into the light mist for a warm up. When he returned he gave us a superb display with lots of after burner showing the speed and agility of the aircraft.
Tuesday morning we drive west to RAF Waddington and the WAVE (Waddington Aircraft Viewing Enclosure). Not much going on at Waddo but I wanted to speak to the owner of the Sentry Post Cafe that is in the parking area as we are going to be using WAVE as a starting point for a sponsored cycle ride in a few weeks time. More on Cycle To The Sky later. After sitting for a good hour and not seeing a single aircraft movement we drove back to Coningsby where there was much more going on.
Like many people I use Facebook to keep in touch with like minded folk, many of them Vulcan followers and many whom I have never met other than ‘on-line’. It was rather nice when Shari came over to introduce herself and chat about Vulcans and all things aviation as well as introducing husband Brian. We met up again briefly over the next couple of days and made two good friends rather than just ‘cyber’ friends.
Wednesday and Thursday are spent at Coningsby chilling out and watching the comings and goings including the occasional practice display by a Spitfire or Dakota. We even had a Hurricane come out for a taxi round the airfield but he didn’t get off the ground.
Friday and it was time to return home but first a couple of hours back at the viewing area. The weather was even murkier than previous days and there was not much flying. After some lunch and with everything starting to shut down for the weekend on the airfield we drove out and headed for home via the BBMF hangar. To our delight the Lancaster was sitting outside with two engines running, we just had to stop and get an ear full of that lovely sound. While we watched and listened to the Lanc a Spitfire taxied out and took off for a practice display followed soon after by a second Spit.
Just as we were leaving a small group of people came out of the BBMF hangar accompanied by Dave Thomas. Dave was the BBMF Lancaster pilot during his time in the RAF and after retiring from the service became Chief Pilot for our Vulcan, XH558, for her first couple of seasons back in the air.
So, our week ended on a high with a Lancaster engine run and two Spitfire displays plus it was good to see DT again.
I titled this section of the blog Tonka’s, Tiffies and Toffees and I have covered the first two but you might well ask, what about the toffees?
The motorhome relies on a constant feed of diesel fuel to keep going and the driver, me, relies on a ready supply of toffees from the co-driver to keep going and stay in good humour. Without this supply the driver is liable to stroppyness and bad temper and the tendency to take immediate strike action. If fact I have become the founder of a new trade union, the MTT, or the Millitant Toffee Tendency. In traditional union fashion I have appointed myself Secretary General and Shop Steward. Strike action will be taken without resort to ballots or bargaining and will only be avoided by a constant supply of toffees from the left hand seat. This holiday business can be hard work so us drivers need to stick up for our rights.