Duxford Autumn Airshow 2012

As an early morning mist clears from the skies above Duxford it looked likely to be a sunny clear day for all at the Autumn Air show 2012. If the event organisers were breathing a sigh of relief, there was certainly no sign of it but one cannot deny there was likely much holding of breath and watching of local weather reports. As a low sun glinted cheekily upon the colourful array of exhibitors it seemed that once again flocking visitors were in for a treat.

A rather quiet programme by some standards, the thinner crowds also lead one to question whether a current recession is beginning to feel its pinch in the world of aviation. Nevertheless it promised to be a most glorious display of speed and superiority as each fought to be the star of the show. Some more flamboyant like the highly colourful Hawk T-1 jet drew gasps of awe at her sheer dramatic speed and obvious skill from her pilot whilst others less aesthetic yet no less impressive relied on prowess alone. A sad day for aviation indeed since for this Hawk in particular this was to be her swansong, never again will she be seen to delight the public at an air-show. A final bow out of memorable proportions, this was one lady who did herself proud.

Joined by the no less colourful Tucano T1 ZF269 ‘ER’  , the public were in for a real treat as the RAF amply displayed its technical skill  and well deserved reputation as a forerunner in the world of aviation. Fearless daring from both pilots as the equally impressive Hawk and Tucano demonstrated exactly what they are capable of. To a backdrop of excellent commentary, the public kept its gaze firmly skyward drinking in the drama unfolding above. One could not fail to miss the gasps of appreciation resulting from a perfect accelerated stall. Regrettably also the last performance from the dashing Tucano pilot as he waved his farewells to an appreciative crowd, leaving to begin training as a Typhoon jet pilot, he clearly will be missed at Duxford.

Quietly serene amongst its more junior counterparts stood the matriarchal figure of the B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ and perhaps one will forgive this writer for a certain amount of bias when it comes to the charms of this rather glorious old girl. A quieter, slower paced display from the lady herself but nonetheless impressive as her smoke plumed finale put the icing very firmly upon a steady but stunning performance. No less formidable was the imposing bulk of the Dakota FZ692 ‘Kwicherbichen’ ,  a commanding presence that needs none of the vivacity of the more colourful planes to draw the eye. Sheer air domination kept all eyes upon her as she paraded her arena with ease, giving awaiting photographers ample opportunity to capture her dramatic form.

Not to be outdone a most spectacular pairing from the distinctively throaty P-51D Mustang, aptly named ‘Ferocious Frankie’ and the aesthetic delights of  the Hawker Hunter F-58A ‘Miss Demeanour’ . An aerial dance of breathtaking proportions saw them sail the skies in a dramatic battle for supremacy set effectively against a rapidly darkening sky. Yet if the conditions were now not so much to the liking of waiting photographers this did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the awestruck public watching avidly below. Disappointed they were definitely not as the pair played a most lavish game of aerial cat and mouse that left onlookers wanting more.

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Merlin engined Mustang, ‘Ferocious Frankie’ paired with effective ease with the legendary Spitfire IX from The Old Flying Machine Company. With a distinctive sound they proved why the Mustang engine was such an important development in aviation history. One could think of no better place to commemorate this momentous event than at Duxford itself, where it all began. A moment to remember and one not likely to be forgotten by those who had flocked from near and far to see them. If the clicks of nearby camera’s were anything to go by this is one event definitely captured for posterity. 

Certainly a treat for the eyes, Duxford Autumn Air show delivered on every front despite a day of slowly plunging temperatures and the advent of an angry looking sky. Onlookers by no means willing to tear themselves away, staying steadfast to the last to pay tribute to all who took to the air. Still they came, the Pitts Special pair, Hispano Buchon (Messerschmitt Bf 109),the bright blue and yellow Boeing Stearman and the dramatically feline Black Cats Lynx Pair. To the delight of their audience they held court over the skies of Duxford bringing to a close another year in the aviation calendar.Definitely in for the long haul the fans paid a well deserved homage, ensuring the success of yet another show.

As the day drew to a close reluctant to leave enthusiasts lingered for one last look as a re-emerging sun cast a late afternoon glow over the stars of the day.  A show it promised to be and a show it most certainly was.

All photographs reproduced with kind permission from Sanjay Rampal http://falkencommunications.wordpress.com/

There’s nothing like a dame

Across the horizon the clouds roll in obliterating the sun and turning an already frigid day distinctly chilly. She does not care about the cold, her low throaty purr never falters as she turns and makes ready her escape. All eyes are upon her yet she is in no hurry for this grand old dame knows that she commands the glance of every eye with little effort at all.

Against a moody sky she surges aloft, soaring ever higher in a smooth steady arc towards the clouds. Flying free and with an elegance belying her age she takes to the sky like a caged bird suddenly given its freedom and i have to shield my eyes as she disappears almost from sight. She will not leave for she loves an audience but the need to tantalise is not one she will give up easily and she revels in the anticipation of the crowd below. One timely tip of a well shaped wing and she banks steadily towards her waiting audience, swooping lower to display her charms to her awestruck fans below. 

Celebrity indeed as the cameras click frantically and she preens for them all taking her time passing them by before leaping coyly out of reach and heading for the heavens once more. A diva of the very best kind and how her public adores her, she knows it and tips a jaunty roll before banking steadily to journey her catwalk once more. One cannot deny her beauty, the last of her kind she is petted and adored as only the unique can be. From the far flung regions of the world they come to revere her and as usual she does not disappoint, posing happily for picture after picture without complaint.

Her name is Sally B, but if you are lucky you can call her Belle.

A beautiful old matriarch, not content to retire and end her days with a well earned rest, she continues to delight the crowds wherever she goes and they love her for it. Like her screen goddess contemporaries before her she ages with a glamour of a bygone era, timeless and unforgettable. Performing for the crowd her poise never wavers, turning again to display a sultry pose clad in elegant red, one well shaped ankle swinging jauntily beneath her. A girl of two faces indeed she will turn again and leave little to the imagination. 

A plane without equal she is indeed the darling of the aviation world and as she descends towards ground and her awaiting public she is happy to greet them, gliding to a slow meander at close proximity. A swift turn and she is done, her starring role over for another day and content to step out of the limelight for a time at least. 

Her name is Sally B but if you are lucky you can call her Belle.

Photos with kind permission courtesy of Sanjay Rampal   http://falkencommunications.wordpress.com/

Wishing for the moon

Come on lets face it when was the last time you sat down, looked around and smiled because you were happy with what you have? How many times have you been guilty of saying i want? Most of us are so guilty of perpetual ‘i want’ ing that we forget to look at what we actually do have we merely spend our times thinking of all the things we do not. For many that long road from where we have been and where we are now is so long that we forget how to look back along it and remember the journey and the achievements along the way and ultimately celebrate them. A recent quote i read was perhaps most apt and fitting at this point merely stating

‘Appreciate what you have, for if you do not then you can be sure somebody else will’

I have been told i am an unusual woman and perhaps this is so since i will never ask anything of anyone that they do not freely give and whilst i have dreams and aspirations like anyone else i am also mindful to be happy with what i have. If it comes down to a choice between pushing for more when it is not freely offered, risking losing everything, or being grateful that i actually have it in the first place then i will always take the latter option. Perhaps the trick is to remember, especially in respect of relationships, how things were before you had that person who means so much to you and ask yourself do i really want to go back to how i was before? Anyone who loves someone would always answer with a resounding no, of course not and why would you.

Yet despite all this so many are so willing to do exactly that and throw away everything that makes them happy just upon that quest to demand more than is already given. I guess for the most part you do not know what you have until it is gone and often once lost it cannot be retrieved. Perhaps then we would all do as well to sometimes remind ourselves of what life would be like without all the things we have. It never hurts to count your blessings every once in a while, even if you forget they are blessings, for one thing you can be sure of is someone else would value and want what you do not.

Yes an unusual woman i may be but also one who has spent a lot of time waiting for things to appreciate to come along. I can see clearly along my road no matter how long it gets and never will i take for granted those happy things  that make me smile. Offer me things freely and i am often wise enough to take them but never will i ask for them for myself. When you have what you’ve always wanted you do not throw it away trying to get something better for the grass is never greener on the other side it is merely a trick of the light. Never be guilty of crying for the moon to the point that you forget to live in the here and now for you might find one day that here and now is exactly where you wish you were.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but all the better when you do not need it. 

On an English country hike

I live in a small town in the South West of England, pretty much like any other town i would say except we are famous for two reasons. The first a beautiful chalk horse carved into the hillside and the second we lay claim to the oldest swimming baths in Britain, opened in 1887 and still having much of its original Victorian architecture. Interestingly these swimming baths are reputed to be haunted by a ghost named George. Some say he was a swimmer who jumped to his death from the pool balcony while the more likely claim is that he is the ghost of an old stoker. Since most sightings of him have been seen by the poolside wearing overalls most people tend to believe the latter. 


Living where i do i tend to walk a lot and my favourite walk is up into the hills to sit on the white horse so i am going to take you on a trip with me on an English country hike. Usually i start from my house and walk up into the market place, typically English although the days of there actually being a market there have long since gone. Still it remains with much of its original buildings being an original part of the town.Once upon a time the building on the left was the town hall, now it is merely used to house a solicitors.    



From here we turn left and head up the hill, i love this street for it has one of the loveliest houses along the way and if i were to dream of owning any house then this one would certainly be up there with the front runners. Not my usual type of house since i mostly prefer Victorian houses but this one is definitely of the rose covered variety.



Right next to this are houses i really do love, originally cloth mills until 1969 these are listed buildings and have been converted into houses. I’ve never had the chance to see inside but externally they have a most appealing character which i am drawn to. 



Getting to the top of the hill you see straight infront of you the White Horse Pottery, producing the most beautiful hand made pottery in a traditional old style. You can go along and watch the pottery being made and browse the collection of unique pieces for sale. The building itself was once an old school which i believe was the Church Of England Day School dating to around 1847 and is today still called The old School.





Now this is where the real hiking begins, as you leave the houses behind the path widens with a riding school on one side and beautiful views across the fields on the left, horse sitting proudly on the hill dominating the landscape. It looks closer than it is from here, like you could almost reach out and touch it and you would be forgiven for thinking you need only run through the field and you will be there.




Rounding a corner and turning left to head up across the hills you very often encounter horses in the fields, some of these guys are oh so beautiful and very friendly. I did feel rather guilty today as i did not have a single treat in my pocket yet despite the drizzle they were more than happy to come over and say hello.



Onwards and upwards! There is of course a road that goes all the way to the top of the horse as many people choose to drive there but this is often covered by a canopy of trees which hides the view as you walk so i tend to hike halfway up and then cut along the fields. This takes you right along the front of the hill ridge and only a barbed wire fence between you and a very long steep slide down to terra firma. On the right days you can see Paragliders galore taking flight like a swam of exotic butterflies and swirling around the skyline infront of the hill face.



The hike is definitely worth it as you cut across the hills the horse peers gleaming white from between the hills as you walk, far bigger than it appears in photographs and closer than you would imagine. High above the horse itself is an Iron Age Hill Fort named Bratton Camp, now here i had to borrow a photograph since this amazing site really doesnt show well from ground level and there is seriously no chance of me getting myself up into one of those paragliders, no matter how pretty they may appear from down here..



Then as you walk along the chalk path you are face to face with that gleaming horse you saw in the distance. You can actually sit on this if you are brave enough although i content myself with sitting on his ear and looking out across the landscape at my little town below.                                                                                                               



Above is the view sitting on the horses ear looking down into the valley. Was i tempted to slide down it?? oh no!! Actually it was very drizzly and windy and i had rather a time staying seated where i was without the wind whipping the camera from my hand. You can see why they love to glide from here cant you??



Welcome to my hike, feel free to come along and sit with me for i come here a lot. And as i sit here with the wind and rain howling around me i really do not mind at all. We are happy up here this horse and i watching the world go by and running madly through the hills just like all wild things should.