With the promise of good weather and also the hope of seeing Richard's modified Pitts S-1E Special take to the skies for a test of the new smoke system fitted I headed over to Bidford On Avon.
Whilst waiting for Rich to arrive me and Ben took the chance to discuss our forthcoming shoot a little more, we both had a good idea of what we wanted to achieve from it and with Ben seeking the relevant permissions from the CAA it was all looking good for the planned date of the 4th.
After a brief discussion and introduction with Rich we set to work removing the panels surrounding the cockpit so a new breaker could be installed. Unfortunately this took considerably longer than anticipated and meant that the planned air to air with G-EWIZ was canned. As luck would have it Steve was just about to take G-BOZS out for a quick flight so we planned a quick A2A flight.
After pushing G-KLAW out of the hangar, strapping in, taxing to the end of the airfield with Steve in G-BOZS we performed a formation take-off. The conditions couldn't have been better for the flight bar the fact it was little bumpy at times and flying 'out of balance' can make you feel slightly nauseous but the light was fantastic. This was only my second A2A sortie so I still need some practice but I'm learning quickly.
Four of us arrived at Craig Goch reservoir around 6:30am in anticipation of the shoot with Ben, after checking the bags to make sure we hadn't forgot anything (a little late at this point!) we made the short climb up the hill over looking the reservoir.
The location and conditions could have been any better, fantastic views and visibility and the light was fantastic, this was one of the main reasons for the rather early time of the shoot. The light is at its best during the first few hours of sunrise and sunset where as during midday it can become a little harsh throwing unwanted shadows around and generally making shooting that little more difficult.
Ben arrived on scene bang on 7:15am and began display over the water performing a series of different flight profiles and routines complete with smoke as you can see from the photos above. I was able to tell Ben how close he needed to be & how low etc from the ground thanks to the use of his radio he had very kindly lent me.
So after nearly 30 minutes we called it a day, the plan to do another one a few hours later was canned as we didn't want to draw too much attention despite having all the relevant permissions.
After a relaxed drive from the reservoir to Cad West in the Mach Loop we arrived on the hill just in time to capture a two ship of 29(R) Squadron Eurofighter Typhoons, the lead jet being flown by this years Typhoon display pilot, Flt Lt Jamie Norris.
It was then down to a couple of passes from an RAF King Air and the resident Loop locals IV Squadron in the Hawk T2's to pass the time until the main event.
Although the King Air doesn't capture the same interest as say a Tornado GR4 its still a rarity in the Loop so I was rather pleased to nail one or two photos of it.
IV Squadron Hawk T2 from RAF Valley storms through Cad as the instructor brings the jet through for the first time, the second pass was a little higher which would lead on to assume it was flown by the student.
"Single GR4 entering the Mach Loop from the North" Time for the main event then, an absolutely fantastic first pass from the pilot of this Tornado GR4, with the wings swept back to 67º and going like the clappers if you'd have blinked you would have missed it!
Coming back around for a second time, this time with the wings back to the normal 45º that you will usually see. You may just be able to see the vortices left in the air as the wing tips essentially cut through it.
I think the WSO (weapons system officer) may have noticed us on the hill as he gives us the rocks horns!
With the weather looking fantastic again and the opportunity to scope out the displays for the coming year at various other air shows I decided to pop along. I wasn't go to take the camera let alone take any photos but I'm glad I did, its seem I just can't help but take photos!
I was there mainly to see Jamie Norris's display in the Eurofighter Typhoon and also the RAF Red Arrows display team, unfortunatley due to the heat there was a significant amount of heat haze around which has ruined the majority of my shots but I came away with one or two shots I was happy with.