RAF Northolt Nightshoot XVI Report

Thursday 27th March 2014

The spring nightshoot at RAF Northolt marks the end of winter and the start of the new season for many enthusiasts. This year Phil Dawe took the brave decision to reschedule Nightshoot XVI at late notice due to the high number of participants pulling out in the run up to the event. Nightshoot XVIa as it became, was rescheduled for Thursday 27th March.

Keith Meachem reports on RAF Northolt's most recent event. Additional photographs from Paul Osborne and Nick Challoner.

A number of aircraft that were due to attend the rescheduled event were unable make it, including the French Government/Sécurité Civile Conair Firecat (turboprop water bomber conversion of the S-2F Tracker), ETPS/QinetiQ Agusta A109E and the Royal Navy 771 Squadron Sea King HU5. Phil had also hoped to get a RNZAF P-3K that was transiting to Lossiemouth for Joint Warrior 14-1, but this ended up being delayed in the Middle East.

The participant list for Nightshoot XVIa was made up of aircraft from three air arms, plus Metropolitan Police EC145 and London Air Ambulance MD900. The highlight had to be an Irish Air Corps CN235s from 101 Squadron, based at Casement Aerodrome just outside of Dublin, making its Northolt debut.

The Armée de l'Air sent two Alpha Jets based at airbase 705 Tours. The French Alpha crews seemed more than happy to give the assembled photographers some great photographic opportunities. The RAF made up the third air arm, with a 45 Squadron Beech 200 Super King Air from RAF Cranwell and one of the Northolt-based 32 Squadron BAe 125s.

The enjoyable thing with the Northolt photoshoots is that you never really know what's going to turn up until its wheels, or skids, touch the ground and this turned out to be the case with Nightshoot XVIa. Considering what's going on with military budgets Phil continues to pull together a good line up, and I can't wait for the next event.

"I know that the Northolt night photo-shoots are very popular with the aviation enthusiast community and I am delighted that once again Phil Dawe and the Operations Wing staff have delivered a successful event. As we look towards the Station centenary in 2015 I look forward to many more exciting opportunities for RAF Northolt to engage with the wider community."

Gp Capt Andy Bacon
Station Commander RAF Northolt

"It was great to finally meet the people behind the operational scene at EGWU, normal Irish Air Corps CASA CN235 Flight Ops are generally high tempo in and out scenarios with air ambulance patients, however the night photo shoot evening allowed for some long overdue social mingling with some of the many interesting characters of the Northolt staff. It proved to be a very enjoyable for all IAC crew members and I personally look forward to visiting again in the near future."

On a lighter note:

"Finally after 14 years of service in the Irish Air Corps, I now know what it feels like to have a small glimpse into celebrity life status. With 100 plus cameras focusing and flashing on our aircraft, the Crew of the IAC CASA CN 235 aircraft departed on a Compton 5X Departure with Cheshire Cat grins all round. A hugely enjoyable evening was had and we are looking forward to returning the hospitality at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel in the near future."

Captain Kenny Byrne
Operations Officer
Surveillance & Airlift Squadron
CASA CN235 Aircraft Commander
No. 1 Operations Wing
Casement Aerodrome