Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets Open Day Report

Sunday 29th May 2011

Bruntingthorpe's Cold War Jets open day has developed over many years into an unmissable event in the calendar for the aviation enthusiast. The 2011 event on May 29th was probably the biggest to date, both in terms of people through the gate and also the number of participating aircraft. This year there was also an aperitif to Sunday's main event when, on Saturday, Vulcan XH558 arrived for a weekend visit to her former home and the place of her epic restoration.

Steve Buckby was there for UKAR. Shaun Schofield, Dean West & Ian Matthews provide supplimentary photographs.

To celebrate the homecoming a special (and probably never to be repeated) photographic event took place. This involved a line up of classic British military jet aircraft alongside the Vulcan, which had arrived back at Bruntingthorpe for the first time in nearly two years shortly after closing the first day of flying at Southend's 'Air Festival'. After much tugging and chocking by the Bruntingthorpe staff XH558 headed up a line of some of the very best of British aviation design which included the Vulcan's former 'V' force compatriot the Victor, plus two Buccaneers and a Lightning F6 from the Lightning Preservation Group. All these aircraft were looking absolutely superb in the late afternoon sun.

The main event on the Sunday was greeted by dull and overcast conditions with a stiff breeze as well. The day's activities commenced with all three of Bruntingthorpe's serviceable Buccaneers emerging from over the hump from the Gilmorton end of the two mile long runway to perform a synchronised demonstration of wing folding, bomb bay turning and hook dropping. This must be the first time that three Buccaneers have run engines together at a public event for many years. For a moment the view from the crowd line could have taken you back thirty years to anywhere from Lossiemouth to Laarbruch. All of Bruntingthorpe's usual runners and riders got an airing, Comet, Lightning, Canberra, Jet Provosts, Iskra and Victor all converting Avtur into copious amounts of noise.

Recognition must be made of Buccaneer S2 XW544 and Hunter T7 XL565, which have both recently been restored to running order. The Buccaneer spent twelve years under tarpaulin resting on railway sleepers supporting the airframe in a scrap yard in Shawbury, while the Hunter arrived at Bruntingthorpe as little more than a shell and now looks resplendent in its 1960s 208 Sqn. Colours. Both aircraft performed their debut fast taxi demonstrations this year and should be a credit to their owners and teams of restorers.

There was a surprising amount of flying action at this year's event too. A visiting Jet Provost dropped in, followed by an unarranged flypast from a Venom and another Jet Provost returning to their home base at Coventry. A further unexpected item was a flypast from Avenger formation which turned out to be 2 Fleet Air Arm Sea King HC4s. This was announced through a much improved P.A. system linked to ATC radio, which was a nice touch and kept the crowd well informed. The advertised BBMF flypast was unable to go ahead due to the high winds at Coningsby.

After the Nimrod closed the show for the home team, the Vulcan was towed from her pride of place spot in the static park, through the crowd, to the runway for her return to her new home at the former 'V' bomber base of RAF Finingley - now known as Robin Hood Airport. There were rumours in the days leading up to the event that TVOC would leave her departure until all the public had left the site. However common sense prevailed and the public waved her on her way after the crowd line had been relocated to a distance meeting the CAA's requirements.

In summarising this event the positive points would be that it was great value at £15 per person. An extended crowd line meant that there was more space for people to experience the intimate atmosphere that this open day provides, which I hope will remain for future events. The only negative from my point of view was the enormous queue for the snack bar but this is only nit picking and is the price you pay for the 'Vulcan effect'.