Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar Nightshoot Report

Saturday 17th November 2012

Founded in 2011 Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar has already developed into one of the most exciting warbird collections in Europe. Last year the collection hosted its first night-shoot which proved a big success so another night-shoot was organised exclusively for UKAR forum members and was held on 17 November. The number of people attending the event was kept low giving an exclusive and relaxed feel to the proceedings.

Stuart Norris reports from Biggin Hill. Photography from the author & Steve Buckby.

The hangar doors opened at 15:30 and on entering the hangar the first aircraft visible was Sea Hurricane X AE977 which has recently returned to the UK after being flown in the USA for a number of years. The Hurricane was due to run its engine after dark but a technical problem prevented this from happening. Nevertheless it was still great to see the Hurricane at close quarters.

Positioned to the rear of the hangar were no fewer than three Spitfires, two Mk IXs and a Mk XVI at various stages of restoration to flight. Spitfire Mk IX LZ842 was at the time of the event the most recent addition to the collection and only arrived at the hangar on the Wednesday before, while the fuselage of Spitfire IX TD314 is now painted in the markings FX-P. Spitfire Mk XVI RW382 appeared to be near the end of its restoration and has since undertaken engine runs.

As darkness fell across the historic airfield the engine runs began. First was the L4 Cub followed by Spitfire Mk IXs TA805 "The Kent Spitfire" and MK912. The Spitfires ran their engines at the same time and blue flames were visible from the exhaust stacks of both aircraft, although they seemed more apparent from MK912. The final aircraft to run was Harvard FE788 which created a temporary layer of fog as the engine started! After the engine runs everybody was treated to a portion of fish and chips and hot drinks served on picnic tables in the hangar, a wonderful touch.

After the refreshments there was time to talk to Clive Denney, about flying and displaying the Spitfire, and other members of the BHHH team. Before the hangar doors closed MK912 and TA805 were repositioned allowing the chance to photograph them from different angles. Rain had been forecast during the day but luckily it held off until people were safely on their way home. The night was a great success, I certainly enjoyed it and I’ve yet to see any negative remarks from those who attended.

With thanks to all those at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar Limited for making the event possible.