Two Lancasters arrive at Biggin Hill – 14 August 2014

Having received their PDA that morning the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster and two Spitfires plus the Canadian Lancaster headed south from RAF Coningsby bound for their public display debut at ‘Airbourne’ – the Eastbourne Airshow. Their plan after their slot was to land on at Biggin Hill in Kent, which would be their base for the weekend. With a large group of enthusiasts, media and dignitaries waiting patiently at Biggin most thoughts turned to the weather. The airport was hit by a lightning storm and heavy rain which, if widespread, would have left the crews with no option but to put down safely somewhere short of their destinations.

Thankfully the weather proved to be sporadic enough for them to find a way through to Eastbourne and thence to arrive at Biggin and the expectant reception committee. Hopefully the weather won’t play such a part in the rest of the tour and that all the planned show and flypast commitments can be met without hitch.

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Sonisphere Rock Festival – Knebworth – 5 July 2014

As well as the ‘Fokkers’ event covered below the event offered three days of assorted heavy metal bands and side-show entertainment. With the main stages sadly off limits for photography the following cover a little of the event’s offerings, including bands such as Reckless Love, Glamour of the Kill, Black Spiders and Safety Fire. The weather was typical of that at a UK festival, though thankfully remained fine for the dog-fighting.

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Military & Flying Machines Show – Damyns Hall – 3 August 2014

This event held in the fields surrounding the small Damyns Hall airstrip near Upminster, Essex, showcases various periods of military history from the earliest days until the very recent and includes battle scenarios, re-enactors, static set-pieces and air displays – the latter taking an increasingly large part in the day’s entertainment. Of the displays illustrated undoubted highlight was Dan Griffith in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar Spitfire XVI, which thankfully coincided with the best weather of the day.

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Canadian Avro Lancaster Arrives in the UK – RAF Coningsby – 8 August 2014

One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the aviation scene in recent years was the arrival in the UK of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster X FM213 (marked as KB726 VR-A – leading to the aircraft often being referred to as ‘Vera’). Having crossed the Atlantic via Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland, this last leg ending in Lincolnshire was planned to see the aircraft joined by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster, plus a Spitfire and Hurricane, for formation flypasts over various local locations and with the addition of the Red Arrows over Lincoln and Coningsby. Many thousands of expectant aviation enthusiasts gathered at all of the points on the route following her progress via social media and Flight Radar apps. The weather during the morning had been changeable but mostly fine, with Coningsby’s regular Typhoon movements and an arrival by VIPs in a HS125 taking place without issue. Sadly as the time for the RAF’s participation approached an extreme weather front moved in from the east drenching the thousands waiting patiently and leading to their cancellation.

All that remained was to get VR-A down safely. From underneath umbrellas all eyes were trained on the approach at Coningsby, and eventually a silhouette appeared from out of the gloom to put down gently onto the damp Lincolnshire runway. Having shut down on the taxiway the Lancaster was towed into position alongside PA474 in front of the welcoming party of veterans and invited guests. Outside the fence her arrival was met with cheers and clapping from the enthusiastic public, many of whom were locals from the village. The residents of Coningsby have a great affection for the airbase and particularly the historic BBMF, illustrated by the many flags on show welcoming the visitors from Canada.

KB726 will undergo servicing in the BBMF hangar before making practice flights with PA474 prior to their public debut at ‘Airbourne’, Eastbourne, on Thursday, followed by around eighty other appearances. The Lancaster will return to Canada on the 22 September.

Once the two fly together it will be the first time in around fifty years that such a sight has been seen, and will most likely only ever be repeated if or when the East Kirkby Lancaster NX611 is restored to airworthy condition. DSC_3037-pw DSC_3058-pw DSC_3050-pw DSC_3053-pw DSC_3054-pw DSC_3055-pw DSC_3056-pw DSC_3059-pw DSC_3067-pw DSC_3035-pw DSC_3077-pw DSC_3079-pw DSC_3081-pw DSC_3088-pw DSC_2822-Con-8-8-14-PW DSC_3092-pw DSC_2827-Con-8-8-14-PW DSC_2832-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2836-1200 DSC_2844-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2847-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2850-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2852-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2864-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2865-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2878-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_2935-PW DSC_2950-PW DSC_2954-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_3099-pw DSC_3104-Con-8-8-14-PhilWhalley