A Visit to the Combined Ops Air display at Headcorn Aerodrome, Kent 15th & 16th August 2015. At the invitation of Phil Holt, the Flying Display Director for full size activity at Bygone Days and who visited us on Slim Gregory Day, Roger Palmer, a chap called Dennis and the writer flew from Hurn in a Robin, G-ROBN built in 1978, maintained and owned by former Fleet Air Arm officer, Ralph, owner of Airtime Ltd. The Robin has a Lycoming 180 engine and cruises at a bit over 100 knots. We departed Hurn at around ten and after one hour flight time arrived at Headcorn airfield in Kent. Phil used five way points, but stayed south of that line to keep away from Gatwick traffic.
We flew at various heights between 1,500 to 2,000 feet to avoid commercial routes. The areas of casual water after recent rains, the beauty of the countryside, the disused airfields still in short grass but surrounded by crops, the turbulence of a low level flight: what a day!
We had access to airside, and therefore a privileged view of proceedings. I have many photos and video clips, and these will be posted on the website.
Excellent fish and chips. Also NAAFI coffee for £1.00, tasting like Camp (remember that?). Many dressed in 40’s clothing, headscarves, trilbies, scarlet lipstick and a ukulele band. Visit http://www.headcornevents.co.uk/event.php?eventid=13 for full details.
The model air display was fronted by Maidstone MFC and I spoke with one of the organisers, Adam Bloxham. Adam and his Dad are the driving force within the club. They regularly put on model flying displays, closely following BMFA Public Display procedures and CAP 658. Crowd safety is their prime concern. They only use pilots known on the display circuit, and give a test to new comers before acceptance. The models on display were impressive, beautifully built and finished. To name a few, an unknown jet (!), a Vampire the same size as David Tappin’s, a Corsair, Chipmunk (50cc), Thunderbolt, in all around 20 models, mostly more than 7Kg by the look of them. They flew in several slots between the full size displays. Pyrotechnics were provided by two local aeromodellers.
The show attracts many military vehicles including a few Austin Champs and armoured Bren Carriers. The Champs took me back to Army Cadet days, as did the Bren guns and .303 ammunition.
Full size sessions included a Harvard, a Tiger Moth doing experience flights and a DH Dragon Rapide doing pleasure trips around Kent. A long display by the Vulcan, a Cessna 150 plus two Robins in formation, a fly past by the Red Arrows, then the Eurofighter flew past, BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane, plus a Mk II Spit from Duxford. An Islander did some Parachute drops.
Thousands of people were present in perfect weather.
We departed Headcorn just after five with one hour flight time to Bournemouth, just beating Ryanair with a straight approach from the east. Great to fly away home, leaving the other people to crawl along in traffic queues. Our pilot diverted over the Isle of Wight so that we could get a good view of a couple of cruise ships in the Solent.
Phil Holt has asked me to announce that he regularly has a seat or two spare on his visits to air shows, and would welcome any of our members who would like to take part. He will keep me informed, and I will announce opportunities as they come up. He will ask for a contribution towards costs, but be assured, this was a grand day out!