RAF Northolt Nightshoot IX Report

Thursday 26th May 2011

Usually at this time of year we're looking forward to Northolt's annual photocall held on the Sunday after their families' day. Sadly there isn't one this year, but we were treated to a Nightshoot instead - the ninth in the series believe it or not. Being held in late May meant that there was still plenty of daylight around when the event began at 1930, and with proceedings not ending until shortly before 2300, we were able to shoot in the warm light of the setting sun, twilight, and then full darkness. Indeed everybody present very much welcomed the chance to shoot in daylight and darkness, and future similar opportunities would be very welcome if possible.

Nick Challoner reports from under the floodlights. Dean West provides additional photos.

Once again a varied selection of aircraft was lined up for us, emphasising quality over quantity, with plenty of space around each to allow for various photographic angles. There were no less than three foreign participants - a Polish Navy M-28B Bryza-1R, a Belgian Air Component A109BA, and a pristine French Air Force Alpha Jet E from Tours. UK participation consisted of a DHFS Squirrel HT3 and a selection of aircraft from 32 Sqn, including a 146 CC2 for only the second time at a nighshoot.

Organiser Phil Dawe and his band of volunteers really went out of their way to aid with the photography. The sun came out after a day of heavy showers, and we were allowed to shoot from the opposite side of the aircraft from normal to place the sun behind us. This was very much appreciated, as was the parking of the aircraft close to the 'crowd line'. As usual, two sets of aircraft steps were positioned to allow elevated shots of most of the participants. Finally, once darkness had set in, Phil and his team co-ordinated with the visiting aircrews to provide us with excellent photo opportunities - the Alpha Jet pilot posed in front of his aircraft with canopies up and lights on, while both the Bryza and A109 crews powered up and ran their props and rotors for a prolonged period.

And so ended yet another successful Northolt Nightshoot. This really is a win-win situation; we get superb photo opportunities, and Phil's team raise money for the continued restoration of the Keith Park building, the first of the Battle of Britain ops rooms on which the rest were based. Thanks go to Phil and his team for continuing to organise these events, the next of which is scheduled for October, optimally timed for another attempt at securing a Sécurité Civile Tracker after a number of abortive efforts. Here's hoping!

"As ever it was a pleasure to host a number of visiting aircraft at Northolt and I am delighted that these photo-shoots continue to provide an opportunity for photographers while raising much needed funds for the restoration of the Sir Keith Park building. I look forward to welcoming you to Northolt again in the future."

Group Capt Tim O'Brien,
Station Commander
RAF Northolt

As usual, Phil will be promoting the tenth event on our forums, with details beginning to emerge this week; a provisional theme of "Search and Rescue" has been suggested and there's already talk of an Mi14 from the Polish Navy. You can keep up to date with the very latest in the Northolt Nightshoot X thread that is currently running on our forums.