Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets Day, 2 May
Mike Kerr reviews the action
After a week of heavy rain the weather cleared just in time for Bruntingthorpe's first event of 2004. The day's programme consisted of taxi-runs by many of the resident 'live' jets in a relaxing informal atmosphere.
The Lightning Association's two Lightning F6s were understandably star performers, with Lightning Legend Brian Carroll at the controls, the two sixties fighters producing very loud runs with both reheats successfully lit. Brian had recently returned from Mike Beachyhead's Thunder City complex in South Africa where he flew one of the T5 two-seaters - with over 3,000 hours on the Lightning Brian last flew previously over twenty years ago but took to the T5 like a duck to water, flying the complete sortie!
'Victor Meldrew' XM715 looked in good condition as she (he?) taxied out and produced a noisy run down Bruntingthorpe's two-mile runway. In a similar vein Comet XS235 'Canopus' followed, looking rather weathered but obviously still perfectly healthy in the airframe and engine departments.
An unusual sight was Hunter F58 J-4091 completing its run minus the cockpit canopy, a result of the inquisitive fingers of some plonker releasing the emergency release catch while it was on static display. Apparently the ejector seat has to be removed in order to re-fit the canopy, something obviously not to be done at a busy event, so the Hunter 'cabriolet' made an obvious choice for a head-to-head race-off with a BMW M3!
Technical difficulties prevented the Canberra from running, but a cartridge start of the engines was made for the benefit of photographers. Other jets to take their turn on the asphalt included Jet Provosts, the Iskra, and Buccaneer S2B XX900, which looked in particularly fine fettle. In between the taxi runs ex-Royal Navy Sea Vixen XJ494 ran her engines in anticipation of joining in at future events.
Although Vulcan B2 XH558 was laying in a million pieces in the hangar, quite a few people rubbed their eyes in disbelief as she took to the air mid-afternoon - expertly flown, this scale model looks very convincing and performs a routine very similar to that flown in '558's latter display years. A trip into the Walton hangar revealed the real XH558 awaiting re-assembly once the second stage of the Lottery funding is approved - let's hope that 2005 brings a giant leap forward for the project.
With various static aircraft, stalls and displays, Bruntingthorpe's day was very enjoyable, providing the opportunity to see many sixties Cold-war jets very much in working order. Maybe one day a Lightning will take to the air…