{03/06/2012}   A new-found interest in planes

              Yesterday, I discovered an interest in air displays, having spent the day at my first ever air show, practically at the bottom of my road no less.  I even took photos and, dare I say it, a few videos!  It was also fun to watch it with friends, one of whom is a propulsion engineer and used to be an engineer for Chinooks in the RAF.

I used to roll my eyes in disgust at any suggestion I might want to go to an air show, now I’m all for it.  How such big and heavy things can get into the air and then do tricks (or just fly) is beyond my comprehension.  It was probably the red arrows that convinced me to go.  They can fly about six to eight feet apart, in formation, not just going in a straight line.  It’s incredible.  So, yes, I did enjoy their display.  But, to my surprise, it was seeing a Lancaster Bomber, initially flanked by a Spitfire and a Hurricane, that I appreciated most.  At that point I wasn’t on the beach, I was higher up so not so far from the height at which it was flying.  It is an enormous plane, and as it happens I know someone who was awarded a DFC for bringing back the Lancaster he was flying as acting Flt Lt in 1943 above Essen, aged 21.  His aircraft was subjected to AA fire which rendered the intercom unserviceable, both tyres burst, the fuselage was littered with holes and the rear turret was badly damaged.  Not only did he shake off his attacker, he brought the plane safely home.  Having seen that plane and appreciating its size next to the Spitfire and Hurricane, it really brought to life the heroics of that Flt Lt, and indeed so many others who flew military aircraft in the war.

As for the video footage, that was because I was somewhat in awe of the Eurofighter Typhoon display.  What a crowd pleaser!  The roar of it reverberating through your body was incredible.  A bit of Googling later and I have found out the following: at altitude it can fly at 1,550mph and at sea level, 910mph; they can fly at twice the speed of sound and straight up, up and away, properly vertical.  They can also be controlled by voice recognition, yikes!  Although not confirmed, it is estimated that the UK’s contribution to the total programme cost was a staggering, way over-budget, £37 billion (ouch).   Fancy buying a Typhoon?  £125 million should sort you one.  (another ouch)

The overriding thoughts I had afterwards were about the heroics of fighter pilots and the conditions they endured (apparently the pilots in Lancasters (well, one in the UK and one in Canada) now have to fly with the hatch (hatch?) open as carbon monoxide leaks into the cockpit) and how incredibly loud one Lancaster bomber is and that during WW2 the noise must have been terrifying and all-consuming.

I had a really good day out at the air show, including a Mexican takeaway lunch on the beach!  I shall be going to another air show, especially as I’ve found out that if you go to air shows at air fields, you get to see the pilots getting in and out of their planes, woo hoo!!!!!


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