After last years summer love affair with the elegant beauty and tremendous howl that is the Vulcan, I was sure I would never feel that unexplainable affection for a flying lady again. Now don’t get me wrong my love for the Vulcan is still there but I have now discovered that I can love another.
Having attended today’s Flying Naval airshow at Shuttleworth with the OH, mainly to get shots for our new aviation related business http://www.planesticky.co.uk/ , I wasn’t expecting to be assaulted with the sounds and sight of the Sea Vixen.
The Sea Vixen was escorted in by the Sea Hurricane to start the show, the commentating having been taken over by Commodore Bill Covington CBE who explained that they can take her up to 45 thousand feet during air displays.
Whilst awaiting the aircraft commentator Bill described her time in the 60’s and 70’s , operating off aircraft carriers like the Eagle, which she would have been catapulted from. Coming into land her approach speed would have been about 140 knots to land on the back-end of an aircraft carrier. Her pilot would have had to have been very precise when coming into land, if he missed and clipped the ship he’d have to come around again “with shouts of Bolter Bolter Bolter…and you’d see spray coming off the sea from those jet engine as they spooled up to full power to go round for another circuit, we didn’t like to do that very often”. This mighty bird carries 11 thousand pounds of internal fuel and during the airshow display along with her trip from Yeovil and back again, she would burn 6-7 thousand pounds of that! Wow with numbers like that no wonder they needed to be refueled using the buddy system in the air when they were in use.
Then she appeared for her first display of 2016 and my first view of her ever. Suddenly here was this beautifully angular aircraft dancing across the sky at such a speed my whole body shook. The sound can only be described as a roar as the pilot opened her up to her full glory. With one last positioning turn before the run in we watched the two aircraft flit and soar on the horizon before their arrival on the display line at 2pm. The impressive twin-engined De Havilland jet fighter of the 60’s and 70’s flew in to a hush from the crowd with the only sounds being the incessant click click of the myriad of photography equipment in attendance.
She made the most of her flat display by giving the photographers a lot of good shot opportunities, at times flanking away to give shots of her virginal white belly and then flanking towards the crowd to give a view of her royal blue topside. The colour scheme is of coursed finished off with her red roundel with completes the patriotic red white and blue! This flat display portion was smooth and perfectly choreographed to display her tremendous control and fluidity of movement. She performed a beautifully poetic dance in the skies including a 360 turn to the awe of the crowd.
And the sound…the roar that emanates from her faultless engines vibrated like a mexican wave through the crowd as she skirted the clouds. The ground shook with light tremors from the cacophonous sound which could wake the dead.
The Sea Vixen (like many other Naval aircraft) are maintained by the Fly Naval Heritage Trust, without which we would no longer have these magnificent examples of aviation history adorning our skies like flying jewels. The Royal Navy Historic Flight is only in part financially supported by the MoD, it relies heavily on the Trust who in turn rely heavily on donations from the public. As Trust Ambassador Kristin Scott Thomas says “…There are many worthy causes desperate for our money these days but these aircraft are such a precious treasure, we have a duty to look after them in their old age. They are also so beautiful in flight – we must do everything possible to keep them flying”…well said!!
For more information on the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and how you can help please visit their website