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Scene around the UK

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28 February 2007 - Marham

ZA469 was out again, this time captured in much more favourable weather conditions. Picture courtesy Duncan Chase

27 February 2007 - Marham

Spotted on approach to Marham's runway 24 was Tornado GR4 ZA469 from 9 Squadron, sporting a 25th anniversary marking on the fin. The GR entered service in January 1982 with 9 Squadron at RAF Honington, and is expected to serve for at least another fifteen years. Hopefully ZA469 will be a regular on the airshow circuit this year. Picture courtesy Mark Potter

27 February 2007 - Mildenhall

...And here's that other EP-3E mentioned below, 156507. Picture courtesy Matthew Clements

25 February 2007 - Mildenhall

Another Aries! EP-3E 157318 taxies for departure at a dull and dreary Mildenhall - this particular aircraft is on strength with VQ-1 'World Watchers', based at Whidbey Island, Washington. Certainly Mildenhall is the place for EP-3s at the moment; in fact, even as I type this report on 27 February, another VQ-1 machine, 156507, has just landed! Courtesy Ken Withers

22 February 2007 - Mildenhall

Providing some colour at an otherwise grey Mildenhall was EP-3E Aries II 157326 from VQ-2. Picture courtesy Matthew Clements

20 February 2007 - Mildenhall

A grey but interesting day at the 'Hall - a U-28A from the 319th SOS based at Hurlburt Field made its first ever visit to the UK and was seen departing back home to the USA after its deployment, escorted by an HC-130P. The role of the U-28A, known to have the advantage of landing on dust strips in remote areas, is to provide intra-theater support for special operation forces. Two F-16s from the 31st FW based at Aviano also departed after a nightstop. Pictures courtesy Jason French and Chris Churchard


20 February 2007 - Sywell - 'Blades' head for the Middle East

The Blades are deploying to the Middle East for their first tour ever outside Europe. The only globally accredited aerobatic airline, comprising four former Red Arrows, will be based in the Kingdom of Bahrain for two months from the middle of March to the middle of May.

Two of the high-performance Extra 300 LPs have already left their base in Sywell to begin their 3,000 mile trip to Bahrain. They have flown to Wycombe Air Park to be dismantled and packed in purpose built containers. This involves taking the wings off the fuselage and tightly strapping the components to a crate. It will take a total of three weeks to build the crates, dismantle the aircraft, fly them to Bahrain and rebuild them again.

"We're obviously taking a lot of care moving the aircraft" said Blade 1 Andy Offer. "We'll pack them so there'll be no chance of them moving, we'll escort them on the cargo plane and Myles, Blade 4, will be in Bahrain to supervise the off-loading and take them through customs. Three engineers are going to join him a day later to start putting them back together for flying in early March."

"We took off the turtledeck in order to remove the wings and tailplanes. We then put the turtledeck back on and put the aircraft on crates. They are tightly strapped down to their chocks, which in turn are nail-gunned to the crates. The aircraft are full of other gear we need to take too. The tailplanes are then packed in to boxes and strapped under the aircraft on the crates. The aircraft are wrapped in cling film to stop animals crawling in on the journey. The wings are taken in four separate boxes. We also needed to take off the spinner in order to make the crate eighteen inches smaller so they can fit on the Jumbo 747. We used Universal Packing to make and pack the boxes and crates but the pilots and engineers obviously helped along the way. We are using DHL to transport the aircraft. They have thirty-six hours on the ground for security processing and they fly to Bahrain on Friday where Myles Garland will be there to meet them."

The Blades' parent company 2 Excel Aviation has created a strategic alliance with Magnum Events and Exhibitions Management (MEEM) to provide the same services they provide in the UK to the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Capitalizing on the exceptional skills and heritage of the Team, the Blades will provide breathtaking public and private displays, opportunities to fly in the front seat of their Extra 300s, and the chance to use the display team's exceptional capabilities as a marketing and communications tool. They will display at a number of high profile events including the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix - the third FIA Formula One race of 2007.


14 February 2007 - St Mawgan

Chinook HC2 ZD982, wearing 78 Squadron markings, was seen at RAF St Mawgan exercising with troops over local moorland. 78 Squadron markings are a rare sight in the UK as the Squadron only has one Chinook on task and is based in the Falkland Islands.

The transfer date of airfield facilities at St Mawgan to Civilian owners has been extended to the end of July 2008. No 1 Squadron (RAF Regiment) has moved to RAF Honington and 2625 Squadron (R Aux AF) disbanded last autumn. HMF departed last summer, leaving the large ex-Nimrod servicing hangar empty for the first time in many years. JMF and SERE will remain at RAF St Mawgan after the airfield has been handed over, discussions regarding the location of boundary fences are currently taking place. Courtesy Peter Mitrovich


14 February 2007 - On the move at Newark

Since Christmas the volunteers and staff at Newark Air Museum have exerted a lot of effort and resources into rearranging the aircraft layout in Display Hangar 2. This work has resulted from the successful reassembly of the Saab Viggen fighter bomber in Autumn 2006.

In a series of co-ordinated moves the Hunter F1 and Swift FR5 have been re-positioned to allow the Viggen to be moved onto display in the eastern end of the hangar. This move was only made possible following the external re-positioning of the MiG-23 and MiG-27, which created sufficient space for the Viggen to be towed through the site.

As part of the move both the Canberra B[I]8 and the Gannet AEW3 have now been returned to their under cover display positions in the southern end of Hangar 2.

These latest aircraft moves have created several small but useable display pockets in Hangar 2. These spaces are now being taken up by several airframes from the museumís extensive collection of micro-lights and hang gliders. So far the Aviasud Sirocco G-MNRT has been assembled and put on display, but others are due to follow during the coming weeks.

The aircraft moves in Hangar 2 will be followed by the repositioning of several aircraft in Hangar 1. In the coming weeks the Auster Autocrat is due to leave site, which will create space to accommodate the General Aircraft Monospar that is now expected to return to Winthorpe in Autumn 2007.

Alongside these assorted aircraft movements restoration work still continues on the, Buccaneer, Varsity, Chipmunk, Vulcan, Meteor 7, Shackleton and Gnat airframes. Most notable amongst these is the Gnat, which now stand on its own undercarriage for the first time in more than six years. Courtesy Howard Heeley/Down to Earth Promotions


13 February 2007 - Leuchars

The mystery of the missing 'black jet' at Leuchars's last airshow has been resolved - ZG757 has re-appeared wearing 'toned-down' anniversary markings, confined to the fin and spine. Seems that rumours that the all-over black scheme was unauthorised were true! Picture courtesy Bill Cardno

11 February 2007 - London

A church service was held at St Clement Danes Church in the Strand, London for The Royal Air Force's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Badge Dedication. Gutted by fire in 1941, this fine Wren building was rebuilt by the Royal Air Force to become its central church, commemorating RAF personnel killed on active service.

Conducted by The Reverend J Ellis RAF, the seventy-minute service was attended by Group Capt Stuart Atha, RAF Coningsby's new Station Commander, and Air Marshal Cliff Spink, former OC of the BBMF, both of whom read lessons. St Clement Danes was full of ex-BBMF crews and families and RAF personnel. The Airmen`s hymn was sung, with the anthem of 'Give Us The Wings Of Faith', followed by prayers, and finally the congregation was asked to stand and face towards the dedication of the Memorial Badge. Sqdn Ldr Al Pinner, OC for the BBMF, read a lesson for the Memorial. A very moving service to those airmen we must never forget lost their lives. Courtesy Bob Franklin


6 February 2007 - Cottesmore

Fresh from service in Afghanistan is Harrier GR7A ZD404/33A, seen here still sporting her 'nose art' and mission markings - let's hope that they survive long enough until the airshow season. The GR7As have been replaced in theatre by the GR9, making its operational debut. Pictures courtesy Tony Lowther

2 February 2007 - Mildenhall

On delivery to the Polish Air Force were three more F-16s - this time F-16Cs 4047 & 4048 plus F-16D 4080. Pictures courtesy Matthew Clements

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