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Scene around the UK

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30 March 2008 - Mildenhall

Bringing some welcome colour in the sunshine was Israeli C-130H 427 - the C-130H is operated by 103 and 131 Squadrons, who operate as a wing, much as the Lyneham units within the RAF, hence no squadron marks are carried. Picture courtesy Tony Lowther

27 March 2008 - Scampton

Reds 2008

After over four months of intensive training, the Red Arrows flew their first 2008 display practice today with all nine aircraft in formation. A stiff breeze and threatening showers tested the pilots to the full, a mixture of rolling and flat displays being performed amongst a maze of cloud formations.

New to the team is Squadron Leader Graham Duff, 'Red 4' for 2008. Readers may remember Graham from the BBC programme a couple of years ago during his first attempt at joining the team - it just shows 'never give up'!

Over the past few months the Red Arrows have been flying six sorties per day, working hard to get ready for the busy 2008 summer display season. They will perform over seventy-five displays in the UK, Europe and North America between May and October. Wing Commander Jas Hawker, the Red Arrows’ Team Leader, said: “The first time that we fly as a nine aircraft in formation is a big milestone for us. It means that we are a step closer to being ready to perform our display in public this summer." The team will fly a number of work-up displays around the country before leaving the UK on 17 April for their annual training detachment at Royal Force Akrotiri in Cyprus, where the guaranteed good weather will enable them to put the final polish on their display more efficiently than in the UK. Until the team receives its display authorisation at the end of 'Springhawk' in Cyprus, the team wear ordinary green flying suits, not the traditional red suits of the display season.

Prior to their departure from the UK, the Red Arrows will perform a special flypast over London on 1 April to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. In formation with four Typhoon aircraft from 3(F) Squadron at Coningsby, they will fly a route down the Thames through Central London before flying over a number of Royal Air Force stations on the return to Scampton.


23 March 2008 - Bruntingthorpe

Vulcan prepares to soar as supporters rise to challenge!

A major milestone has been reached as supporters continue rallying to the call to ensure that Vulcan XH558 is seen in the skies around the UK this summer. A campaign launched last month to bridge a funding gap created by the current economic conditions is proving successful. The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is announcing the start of the work to resume the remaining test flights to return the aircraft to air displays.

"The response we are receiving from our supporters to our appeal for funds to ensure we reach the air display season this year is very heartening, so much so that in the last few days, I have felt confident enough to authorise the commencement of preparations for the remaining test flights", says Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST). "Every week's delay in starting this work was costing us money, so despite our need to keep on raising funds, it is the right thing to do."

"Once again, our supporters are significantly exceeding our expectations", continues Robert Pleming. "Thanks to their ongoing hard work and generosity I am delighted to announce that we have also received, from two major supporters, dedicated donations of £150,000 to specifically fund the Test Flight Programme. But the decision to proceed could only be made by trusting in our supporters that the fund-raising momentum will continue. We still need to maintain a donation income of at least £50,000 per month to make it to the airshow season. Once we make it to our first few airshows, we are convinced that we will see fund-raising momentum continue and sponsorship interest increase substantially."

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust has the goal of 'Honouring the Past, Inspiring the Future', and in particular bringing a spectacular part of British heritage to a new generation of young people.

More than £6million has been spent on returning Vulcan XH558 to flight, of which £2.7million has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The rest - the majority - has come from public donations, making XH558 truly 'the people's aircraft'. The result of which was that in October 2007 the Vulcan flew triumphantly for the first time in over fourteen years.

Donations should be sent to VTST, Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 5QS, or by 'phone to 0116 247 8145, or online at www.vulcantothesky.com

Companies who want to take advantage of the valuable corporate sponsorship opportunities should contact Michael Trotter on 07803 141483.

More information on the project can be found at www.vulcantothesky.com or by ringing 0116 2478145


22 March 2008 - Mildenhall

Innocent-looking Gulfstream V N596GA taxis in at Mildenhall - this aircraft was originally intended for the USAF, and was allocated the serial 99-0405 as a C-37A. Apparently the order was cancelled, and the aircraft is operated by National Aircraft Leasing from Greenville in Delaware. However, it still seems attracted to military airfields. Picture courtesy Ben George

22 March 2008 - Brize Norton

The Royal Danish Air Force has now taken delivery of all four of its C-130J-30s since placing its first order in December 2000. The Danish aircraft, which are the long-fuselage version of the C-130J, feature a strengthened cargo ramp, improved airdrop system, and the Enhanced Cargo Handling System, as well as RDAF-specific items including a tailored electronic warfare suite. Denmark’s first C-130J was delivered in March 2004 and began operational service only one month after arriving at
the RDAF’s 721 Squadron in Aalborg, Denmark. The last aircraft, B-583, was delivered in July 2007. Picture courtesy Mark Rouse


18 March 2008 - Hendon

The RAF launched a programme of celebration events to mark the ninetieth anniversary of its formation. Outside the museum, famous Chinook ZA718/BN 'Bravo November' had flown in from its base at RAF Odiham. Bravo November, which recently served in Afghanistan, has fought in every conflict since the Falklands War and has three DFCs to her name.

Speaking to a large audience at the RAF museum at Hendon in west London, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy spoke of the strength, pride and ethos of the RAF. "Ninety years is a significant milestone," he said. "What we have seen over those years is the essential role the RAF has played. Indeed, we have seen the changing nature of warfare, from those very flimsy aircraft over the trenches of France, to events of the last twenty-five years: the Falklands, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s easy to forget that the RAF has now been flying continuously in the Middle East for seventeen years."

Sir Glenn announced several events to mark the RAF’s ninetieth anniversary over the coming months. There will be a major flypast over London, including Typhoons, the Red Arrows, and aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the anniversary day, 1 April. The flypast will start just south of London City Airport, pass over the O2 and past Canary Wharf, Wapping, Tower Bridge before flying over the London Eye at 13:00. The formation will then continue over MoD Whitehall, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The midday flypast will be followed by a VIP dinner at the RAF Museum that evening, and a nine-ship formation of Typhoons will overfly the museum at 19:00.

RAF airshows at Cosford, Waddington and Leuchars will all have the ninetieth anniversary as the key theme, as will the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in July.

Occasional Air-Scene UK contributor and aviation professional Jamie Hunter presented Sir Glenn Torpy with a framed Typhoon print. Jamie also launched his new RAF book, 'Fighting Force' - we'll hopefully review a copy soon

Both past and present were represented at today’s launch. Remarkably, 111-year-old Henry Allingham, a veteran of the Royal Naval Air Service, one of the elements that formed the RAF in 1918, was a centre of attention.

Sir Glenn was asked how it felt to be ninety. "It feels very good," he said. "Because the service has achieved an incredible amount over the years. One only has to look back at some of the iconic events, such as the First World War, the Battle of Britain, the Berlin Airlift, the Cold War, the First Gulf War, the Falklands, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan."

But what about the future – how did Sir Glenn see the RAF developing? "I think what we’ll see is continued improvement in equipment, the way we train our people, our capabilities being networked together, and more synthetic training. The spirit, the ethos, the values and the pride people have in delivering air power is exactly the same today as ninety years ago. My grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps, and I don’t think he was much different from the University Air Squadron cadet I met last Friday." Pictures courtesy Guy Harvey & Bob Franklin

Look out for a feature on ZA718/BN soon


11 March 2008 - Dorchester

G-CGIJ, one of the newly-delivered AW-139s due to take over rescue duties from the trusty old S-61 for HM Coastguard later this spring was trying out the helipad at County Hospital, Dorchester. G-CGIJ is the new 'India Juliet' (same suffix as one of the S-61s made famous in the TV series 'Seaside Rescue', along with 'Whiskey Bravo'). The AW-139 will take over duties at Osprey Quays (formerly HMS Osprey, aka RNAS Portland) and other bases around the UK. Courtesy Andrew Ford


9 March 2008 - Newark

On Thursday 13 March a short ceremony will take place at the Newark Air Museum in Nottinghamshire to unveil a new set of temporary Anniversary markings on Blackburn Buccaneer S1 XN964 maritime strike aircraft.

The markings have been carefully designed by Mick Coombes (leader of the team currently restoring XN964) to celebrate the Buccaneers 50th Anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of XN964 being delivered to the museum. The markings will remain in place on the airframe for approximately three months, until the original 801 Royal Naval Air Squadron markings are reapplied to XN964 later in the summer.

This is the first time that the museum has decided to apply such temporary markings to one of its airframes but the team wanted to mark both anniversaries in an unusual way. Originally acquired by the Loughborough & Leicestershire Air Museum, XN964 was purchased by Newark Air Museum in early 1988 and it was transferred from Bruntingthorpe to Newark as a Police escorted wide load early in the morning of Sunday 13 March 1988.

The museum is also seeking information that relates to a famous mission its Buccaneer aircraft XN964 took part in forty-one years ago in March 1967. On 18 March 1967 the Torrey Canyon super tanker, which was destined for the Milford Haven oil terminal in South Wales, struck Pollards Rock in the Seven Stone reef in the dangerous waters between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles. As the super tanker broke up aircraft from the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm were called in to drop various munitions on the stricken tanker.

At the time of the incident our Buccaneer XN964 was serving with 736 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Lossiemouth, Morayshire. The museum has references that show it took part in the missions to bomb the Torrey Canyon on 28 March 1967, when flying directly from RNAS Lossiemouth and also whilst temporarily based at RNAS Brawdy, Pembrokeshire. The museum is keen to locate any pictures of XN964 flying on these sorties against the Torrey Canyon for incorporation into the growing historical record it is building up about the aircraft and its operations. Details can also be sent to Mick Coombes the restoration team leader at Newark Air Museum, Winthorpe Showground, Newark, Notts, NG24 2NY, telephone 01636 707170.


6 March 2008 - Innsworth

The end of a significant chapter in the history of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the closure of the former Personnel and Training Command (PTC) Headquarters at RAF Innsworth, near Gloucester, was marked by a simple ceremony there on Thursday 6 March 2008. The Station is due to be handed over to the Army at the end of March after sixty-eight years in RAF hands.

A flypast by four Hawk jet trainer aircraft from 19(R) Squadron based at RAF Valley, Anglesey, coincided with the lowering of the RAF Ensign, supported by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, watched by senior RAF and Army officers, including eight former commanding officers, present and former military and civilian personnel and members of the resident Air Training Corps squadron.

Innsworth ceases to be an RAF station on 31 March with the departure of the final RAF personnel, although its aviation links will be maintained by the continuing presence of the Gloster Meteor T7 gate guardian, built at nearby Brockworth in the 1950s, which will be looked after by Innsworth's new incumbents.

In a staged move the functions of PTC transferred to RAF High Wycombe from 2005 being completed earlier this year, to collocate with RAF Strike Command (STC), forming a new over-arching organisation known as Headquarters Air Command, which was formally established on 1 April 2007.

HQ Air Command Badge

Attached is the new badge for Headquarters Air Command, the organisation resulting from the amalgamation of HQ PTC and HQ STC as described above.

The Badge Definition states: "The Air Command Badge displays in front of a terrestrial globe a winged lion, rampant, grasping a spear. The adopted motto FORTIS UBIQUE VOLANTIS may be freely translated to 'Flying Bravely Everywhere'.

"The winged lion, representing air power, standing in front of the terrestrial globe symbolises the global reach of modern air power. The head of the spear alludes to a deliberately small, yet precisely honed cutting edge; a lethal weapon when applied with precision whether at long or short range. The stout shaft represents those who support, guide and propel the cutting edge to deliver the reach, stability and lethality needed." Courtesy RAF Air Command


1 March 2008 - Fairford


Organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo staged a special Question Time at their headquarters in Fairford, Gloucestershire, where guests were invited to grill them on all aspects of the event - from aircraft participation to the price of hamburgers.

Aircraft enthusiasts, the media and the public were invited to the Stakeholders' Forum, which was last held in 2005, to have their say about the world's biggest military airshow. Around eighty guests from all over the country attended the event. Air Tattoo Director Tim Prince introduced the meeting with an overview of RIAT 2007 and a look ahead to this year's event on 12-13 July.

The mood was buoyant, with more than ninety minutes of questioning providing open discussion, with several attendees thanking the RIAT team for their efforts in organising the airshow. They also welcomed the announcement of the first aircraft to be confirmed for this summer's airshow, from countries including Brazil, Pakistan, Canada, Hungary, Norway and Chile.

Among the subjects discussed was the timing of the flying display, the introduction of day-specific tickets, the 'congested' UK airshow calendar and the layout of aircraft around the showground. Members of the forum also praised the quality of the Air Tattoo's official DVD.

The meeting closed with a special offer, bids being invited for a complete set of Aircraft Illustrated from Vol 1 No 1 to the present, offered by FRIAT member Richard Andrews, a member of the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo with the money raised going to the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.

Mr Prince said: "The Air Tattoo has many stakeholders including the Royal Air Force, our sponsors, the local community and our parent charity and we are in regular dialogue with them to make sure we are meeting their needs. The Stakeholders' Forum is a wonderful opportunity to bring together aircraft enthusiasts and the public and give them a platform to air their views about an event that is close to their hearts. "We continually look for ways to improve what is already a wonderful event and listening to the views of our stakeholders is an important part of this process."


1 March 2008 - Mildenhall

A B-1B diverted into Mildenhall today, the second of the week after a first had slid in and out under the cover of darkness. The Bones are transiting back to the States and tanker troubles forced the two diverts - not that we mind, of course! Picture courtesy Gary Stedman

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