Angles in Anglesey
Andrew Bates visited RAF Valley's 'Celebration of Flight' Photocall, 15 August
Also dubbed as 'The Century of Flight Photoshoot', the photocall at RAF Valley held on Friday 15 August, again organised by the Valley Aviation Society, proved to be more than just a static line up of aircraft. The event had been specifically tailored to enable enthusiasts to savour, at close quarters, a typical day on a busy RAF station. Throughout the day it was business as usual for the two resident Hawk squadrons from 4 FTS, so there was always some form of aerial activity to be observed in-between the arrivals and departures of the visiting aircraft.
Thanks to the efforts of the VAS, everyone in attendance was quickly and efficiently parked on the airfield, adjacent to the main entrance, once the gates had opened. This ensured just a brief walk over to the designated viewing area, which was positioned in a prime location right alongside the visiting aircraft ramp. As the day progressed, it was soon apparent that all five senses were likely to be assailed as aircraft taxied by. No only could you smell and feel the jet efflux, you could almost taste it as some crews got 'intimate' with the crowd...
Apart from a rather cool breeze off the Anglesey coast, the weather was remarkably co-operative for the entire event, with plenty of sunshine throughout the day. With the combination of fine weather and a superb viewing location, all the hallmarks of a classic event were in the offing. However, if the truth were known, there was mild disappointment amongst some of the enthusiasts, which prevented such an accolade. Not wishing to detract from all the hard work put into organising the event by the VAS, but the number of visiting aircraft was a bit on the sparse side. Eventually, there was a grand total of nine military visitors in attendance on the visitors' pan - of these, it was the solitary F-15E from Lakenheath that was able to add an 'international' flavour. There was further participation from a handful of 'civvie' machines, including a Spitfire and a Jet Provost. In addition to the arrivals and departures of visiting aircraft, along with the ever attendant Hawks in the circuit, there were a few additional fly-bys from such heavyweights as a TriStar and Nimrod, as well as Jaguar and Tornado (F3 and GR4 variants).
On a positive note, the event was still a success for two very good reasons. Firstly, it helped raise money for some very worthy charities, and secondly, it was still a very enjoyable day out. The alternative for your scribe would have been a normal Friday stuck in work - no contest! The location for enthusiasts, so close to the visitors' ramp, was second to none, so hopefully, if another event is considered, fingers crossed for a little more participation.