Harrier Swansong *UPDATED*- 9th December 2010

Harrier Swansong *UPDATED*- 9th December 2010

Postby Pen Pusher on Sun 19 Dec 2010, 1:13 pm

I had the unique opportunity of being a part of a group of photographers invited, on very short notice as it turned out, to visit RAF Cottesmore during the final weeks of the drawdown of the Joint Force Harrier.

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We were to photograph a rehearsal for the 16 Harriers taking part in the final fly past the following week. The plan was to cover the departures and return of the Harriers. Close up. The plan didn’t quite work out as planned. As we gathered at the main gate, rumour had it that the runway temperature was below minimum for safe operations. When our chaperone for the day arrived, the Flt lt confirmed the conditions and was not hopeful that anything would fly at all from Cottesmore that day. There was to be a change of plan and as we didn’t know what it would be yet, our first port of call was ATC who were our hosts for the day. As we were being plied with tea and coffee in the crew room of the control tower, the Flt Lt was on the phone trying to see who at Cottesmore would be up for a short notice visit. The Harriers would be flying at Wittering that afternoon and and a RN Lt said he would be escorting us over there after lunch. At least we would get to see some flying. Back at Cottesmore, a new plan was forming. No 800 Naval Air Squadron came to the rescue and said we could have a look around their hangar.

Nothing spectacular, just record shots of the day.

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More images from inside No 800 NAS Hangar HERE

Despite there being no flying, they still had Harriers out on the snow and ice covered pan undergoing minor maintenance and engine runs. As there was no flying, I think the question was asked if we could have a wander over. Our chaperon checked and permission was granted.

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More images from around the pan HERE

The doors to No 1(F)Sqn hangar were open and from the pan you could see the red and white tail of the special painted Harrier. Again the Flt Lt made enquiries on behalf of the group and after a briefing on what we could and couldn’t photograph by the 1(F)Sqn ‘Aunty’; we had access to the hangar for a wander around.

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More images from inside No 1(F) Squadron Hangar HERE

Part 2 - RAF Wittering

Brian
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby DamienB on Sun 19 Dec 2010, 1:27 pm

Excellent stuff Brian!
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby ianf on Sun 19 Dec 2010, 1:42 pm

Excellent coverage brian, you were indeed priveliged and lucky, I am jealous. Thanks for posting, I'm looking forward to part 2! I like the falkland sign in No 1 sqn hangar.


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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby AnglianAV8R on Sun 19 Dec 2010, 2:13 pm

Ian, You took the words out of my moutj.... That sign on the wall says it all.
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby RichPittman on Sun 19 Dec 2010, 4:39 pm

Very nice Brian :clap:
Always remember "If you cannot turn tight...you cannot fight!"
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby Pen Pusher on Wed 22 Dec 2010, 8:25 am

Cheers for the comments chaps. Bit late with the Wittering shots as I've been suffering a bit of a head cold but on leave now so should be up in the next couple of days.

Brian
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby jimbob1194 on Wed 22 Dec 2010, 3:27 pm

Lovely set Brian. Hope you have a good christmas, and I hope to see you in the new year sometime. :biggrin: :clap:

James
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Re: Harrier Swansong - 9th December 2010

Postby F-86 on Wed 22 Dec 2010, 6:39 pm

Excellent set Brian, looking forward to part 2. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Harrier Swansong *UPDATED* - 9th December 2010

Postby Pen Pusher on Thu 23 Dec 2010, 11:15 am

After a quick lunch from the SPAR at Cottesmore we set off in convoy, following the RN Lt, for the 20 minute trip down the A1 to RAF Wittering. Having parked up outside the MT hangar we had a leisurely ramble up a snow covered grass incline toward the taxi way that led from the dispersal to the 26 end of the runway. I had a look around and was not in a really good position as I was hoping to get some underside approach type photos. I wandered back down the slope to a big green emergency generator container and became Billy Nomates as I stood all alone by myself. I got the type of shots I wanted though. We had arrived at Wittering as the last of the morning wave were taking off but by 14.40 as the bright orange winter sun was getting close to the horizon, the first wave returned and could be seen approaching the airfield in formation. After a run and break there were lots of approaches, rollers, hovering and fly-bys. A repeat performance when the second wave returned.

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I headed back to the main group as the first of the Harriers were starting to park up on the dispersal.

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As the last Harrier flight of the day, a T12, rolled passed us, the sun had virtually set below the horizon. When all eight Harriers of No IV(R) Squadron were on the ground, parked up and shut down, we then had access to the dispersal for a wander around.

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There was also going to be a mini night shoot but as a bit of fatigue and cold, turned out my thermal socks were not as thermal as advertised and I was developing what has turned out to be a head cold, had set in I gave that a miss and settled for the warmth of the hangar.

More images from RAF Wittering HERE

Many, many thanks to my two chauffeurs for the day, and to all the service personnel at RAF Cottesmore and RAF Wittering who went out of their way to accommodate a group of photographers interrupting their work routine at a very difficult time for them.

Brian
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Re: Harrier Swansong *UPDATED*- 9th December 2010

Postby docman on Thu 23 Dec 2010, 12:50 pm

An excellent selection depicting an unrepeatable experience. Superb lighting Brian. :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Harrier Swansong *UPDATED*- 9th December 2010

Postby Graf Zeppelin on Thu 23 Dec 2010, 1:06 pm

Nice job Brian! I love the shot of the T-bird passing the runway caravan. :clap: :clap:
Cheers Phil

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