Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome & Proving Ground is home to the Cold War Jet Collection as well as a number of lodger units in the form of the Lightning Preservation Group, Canberra WT333 Operating Team, Absolutely Buccaneers Team, Sea Vixen XJ494 Preservation Group and the The Vulcan Operating Company (although the Vulcan itself is currently at RAF Lyneham undergoing deep maintenance). Twice a year they hold an open day and the first of the open days for 2010 was held on Sunday 30th May.
These open days are a rare chance to see cold war aircraft performing fast taxi runs down the two mile long Bruntingthorpe runway. Both the general public and aviation enthusiasts attend the open days in increasing numbers to see the Victor, Lightning, Hunter, Comet, Canberra and Buccaneer once again transforming from a static display to a live aircraft.
May 2010 was no exception with what I would expect was a record number of people thanks to the new additions to the museum and dry weather for a change (from memory the last time it was dry was 2007!).
The increased crowd numbers seem to have caught the organisers out. The crowd line next to the runway threshold was cramped and in parts was three to four people deep. This made photography difficult for anyone who had turned up late and not secured a place at the front. This was quickly resolved by the organised who allowed the crowd to use space outside the roped off crowd line further down the runway. An offer quickly taken up by the photographers who lined themselves along the runway. The position although further back from the runway than the crowd line allowed the photographers more space and also a position to pan the aircraft as it came down the runway. A good move by the organisers!
Buccaneer S2B XX894
A lot of work has been done on the Buccaneer over the years and it is really starting to come together now. Back in 2007 when I last saw it perform at an open day it wasn’t in a condition to do a fast taxi run and its part in the open day was limited to showing off its folding wings. This year I got to see her take to the runway as well as doing its party trick of folding wings, opening the bomb bay and lowering the arrestor hook. The wait was well worth it as you can see from the photos above.
Lightning F6 XS904
The Lightning is one of the most loved aircraft at Bruntingthorpe and has a special place in the hearts of almost all aviation enthusiasts. It’s the highlight of many people’s day. Like the Buccaneer the Lightning has its party trick but the Lightning’s version is a lot more audible! Applying the brakes on the Lightning, both engines are powered up and the reheat is engaged. That few seconds before the brakes are released is really something else.
Victor K2 XM715
The Victor was in fresh paint for the open day and opinions on it were split. Personally I think it’s a great job and given some time outdoors it will soon gain a slightly more weathered look. As mentioned above the cross wind on the day meant the Victor couldn’t do a high speed run as it wouldn’t have been able to deploy it’s breaking chute and this year it kept all of it’s wheels on the runway.
Canberra B(I)8/B.6 Mod WT333
The Canberra was looking great in its freshly touched up Raspberry Ripple paint scheme and the cartridge start up went down well with the crowd as it does every year.
The next open day will be Sunday 29th August 2010 and will feature the same aircraft and should also include the Nimrod MR2 (it was a static at this event and it is still currently an MOD asset). Will worth a visit!