Two classic V-Bombers and many other classic aircraft.
In May 2011 we received an invite for a special photoshoot evening to be held prior to the Cold War Jets running day, at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire. Many classic jets reside at Bruntingthorpe's aviation museum, but this was to be a special weekend as former long-term resident, Avro Vulcan XH558, was scheduled to arrive to join the party. This proved to be an extra special event as it provided opportunities to see two of the former Cold War V-Bombers together on the runway, for a rare photo opportunity. I also put together the following short video, combining static photographs and live footage of the Victor's engines being started, followed by a taxy past us.
Shown above, Handley Page Victor XM715. The only remaining complete Valiant, third of the V-Bombers, can be found at RAF Cosford's museum in Shropshire, but is so tightly crammed in alongside fellow V-Bombers Vulcan and Victor, that it makes viewing them and appreciating their relative designs very difficult. Therefore the chance to see the Vulcan and Victor, joined by many of the other classic jets resident at this aerodrome, in their proper environment - on a runway - was one not to miss. Based on this experience, I recommend anyone with an interest in these mighty machines, products of Britain's once great aviation industry such as the Lightning, Buccaneer, Victor, Hunter and Canberra, to get along to the next Cold War Jets running day. Details of the next event can be found on the main Bruntingthorpe website.
Shortly after our arrival, the Blackburn Buccaneer was wheeled out onto the runway for a test run under its own power. Static aircraft on display in museums are great, but nothing can compare to hearing the thunder of their engine(s) running, the smell of burnt kerosene, and seeing these charismatic aircraft hurtling along Bruntingthorpe's runway.
There now follows a selection of photographs showing the key exhibits destined to take part in the following day's main event. The headline act would be the Avro Vulcan, but I have to say that the splendid sound of the Victor firing up and taxying by will be something that will stick in my mind for a long, long time! The following image clearly shows the T tail of Bruntingthorpe's Victor, shortly before it was towed out onto a taxiway to wind up its Rolls-Royce Conway engines.
Highlight of the photoshoot evening was the arrival of Avro Vulcan XH558, it is shown here hopping over the trees at the end of its approach into Bruntingthorpe before performing a fly-by and coming in to land.
Fundraising to keep this magnificent aeroplane in the skies is managed by Vulcan To The Sky, and is an ongoing job. Anyone with a passion for the Vulcan, an example of British engineering prowess at its best, is encouraged to help support the ongoing operation of this mighty delta-winged bomber in any way they can. This can be through direct financial contributions, sponsorship, volunteer work, or buying items of regalia from their web shop or display stand, which can often be seen at UK airshows. Spiralling fuel costs are only making things more difficult to keep the Vulcan in the air. Concorde has already been consigned to gathering dust in museums, and the QE2 sits quietly at a port in Dubai, so let's keep the Vulcan active in the skies for as long as possible!
Another reminder of Britain's once-great aviation industry is the BAe Nimrod, a recent arrival at the museum and preserved in running order alongside its close cousin, the De Havilland Comet, on which the Nimrod's basic design was based.
An unusual resident at Bruntingthorpe is the mighty Guppy, a design based on the Boeing Stratocruiser airliner. The opportunity to clamber inside this amazing aircraft was one not to miss, while the view from the cockpit was one to savour also. Two Buccaneers, three Jet Provosts, and the cockpit section from a Lightning, can be seen in this shot, followed by a look out of the starboard side of the cockpit, revealing the front end of a Victor.
Vulcan and Victor, nose to nose.
With the Vulcan safely on the ground and parked on the runway, the Victor was towed into position, enabling the attendees to photograph these two spectacular aircraft together, with other cold war-era jets for company.
Next, two views of the crescent-winged Victor, from beneath the Vulcan's delta wing.
Avro Vulcan XH558 on its rare return to Bruntingthorpe.
With many hundreds of photographs taken by the photographers and journalists on site, the aircraft were re-positioned along the wide runway. The V-bombers were joined by two examples of the Buccaneer, and an English Electric Lightning.
Supporters of the Vulcan are encouraged to send donations for the ongoing service work that this aircraft requires. In return for donations to the 2011 winter service programme, their name appears on this plaque attached inside one of the Vulcan's two bomb doors.
The Vulcan is moved into position behind a tug, and is seen here, nose pointing down Bruntingthorpe's long runway.
The weather, while extremely windy, stayed dry for the evening's photo event. The line-up of classic jets on the runway can be seen below, with the Lightning nearest to the camera, and the Vulcan at the far end.
With the sun starting to descend into the horizon, there was just time to take a few more shots of this unique line-up. While both designed at the same time, and operated by the RAF side-by-side for much of their operational lives, the designs of the Vulcan and Victor couldn't be more different.
Buccaneer, wings folded.
And finally, an evening shot of the Lightning, prior to the following day's high-speed taxi runs. More information on the Lightning Preservation Group can be found here.