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What's up, cock!

Nicholas Heeley reports from the 2005 Cockpit-Fest, held over 18/19 June at Newark Air Museum. Pictures by Howard Heeley/Down to Earth Promotions

The 6th annual Cockpit-Fest and Aeroboot Event, sponsored by Flypast Magazine, was again a major success for the Newark Air Museum, with the visitor figures rising for yet another year.

The event was attended by twenty-four 'cockpiters', with a wide range of cockpits and interior displays from across the years, which included modern day fighters such as the Tornado and Jaguar, and much older fighters such as the Hornet and Spitfire. It was great to see such well-preserved cockpits and shows the huge expense and dedication that some people put into their cockpits. The weather was excellent and it made the cockpits look superb, which also reflected the feelings of everyone who exhibited or visited.

Nosing around

There were many opportunities to sit in the cockpits, which are as good on the inside as they are on the outside. People came from all over the country to exhibit at the Museum, and there were many really special cockpits, which showed peoples commitments to their projects.

My personal favourite was a Hunter Cockpit XE612, which had a built in simulator, so that you could pretend to fly it. There was a screen that showed you where you were going, with excellent graphics. There was also a Jaguar GR1 there from Boscombe Down (XX761) that had moving sections to it, which could be operated manually from the inside as well as being able to tilt form side to side, which simulated flight.

Over the two days, many other exciting events went on around the Museum, which added to the great weekend. Firstly Peter Grieve and Robin Byers had brought in two refurbished Merlin engines, which were ground-run in unison at regular times on both days. The sound of them echoed around the site and brought a true buzz to the Museum. For many people, it brought back memories of past times but for younger generations, like myself, it made us think how lucky we were, as well as reminding us of a familiar sound over the skies of Lincolnshire.

This was repeated in the form of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. No event would be complete without the skies being graced by one of those wonderful aircraft, which we all know and love. And so, at 14:44 on Saturday, the Mk IX Spitfire - MK356 - flew over the museum and performed three passes, flown by well-known Squadron Leader Clive Rowley MBE. The passes were made at a low height and wowed everyone who had gathered to watch - some looked on in sheer amazement while others took photos to remember the moment. The markings on the side could be seen clearly, as the 21-V stood out above all of the D-Day stripes. As she departed she performed the familiar wing shake to say goodbye for another day.

Many people regularly gathered to watch the Vulcan do a start-up of the Rover APU, which always thrills the crowds. XM594 is a very well kept aircraft and it is always great to see her buzzing, like the crowd do!

Some museum aircraft were also open for viewing, in the form of the Shackleton, Hastings, Vulcan, Canberra and Varsity, which is now kept undercover in the New Hangar on the South Field Site. People always enjoy getteing inside the planes, although they can sometimes be cramped. There is now a newly formed aircraft opening team, organised by Alan Ingleston, who will also be arranging some Enthusiast Days in the autumn - details will be on the museum website soon.

So overall, it was a superb weekend. Special thanks must go to all the Museum volunteers who helped at the weekend. The list is endless!! We must also thank Ken Ellis and the team from Flypast magazine for supporting and publicising the event for yet another year and the International Cockpit Club. The event would not be the same without them.

There is a list below the cockpits that were awarded prizes at the event, and all that I can say now is bring on Cockpit-Fest 2006!!

Cockpit-Fest 2005 Prize Awards

Special Award in honour of former Key Publishing Archivist Mike Doyle for the cockpit that "Engaged and reached out to the public" - Hunter XE612, 74 Squadron markings, 1986 Squadron ATC.

Spirit of Cockpit-Fest '1' - The Merlin Display Team of Peter Grieve and Robin Byers.

Spirit of Cockpit-Fest '2' - Pam Collins. To quote Ken Ellis, "Behind every successful man is a totally knackered woman!" [N.B. Pam's husband Tony Collins has participated in every Cockpit-Fest event]

Flypast Readers Award for the Best Cockpit - Hunter XE612, 74 Squadron markings, 1986 Squadron ATC.

Cockpiters' Cockpit - Spitfire IX reproduction, Stuart Gowing.

Best Cockpit, First place - Jaguar GR1 XX761, from Boscombe Down.

Best Cockpit, Runner-up - De Havilland Hornet F Mk.1, David Collins.


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