|Tuesday brought a visit to RAF Waddington. The plan was to visit the Squadrons and aircraft based there but the day turned out to be a very different one than I was expecting.
I knew the photography chances would be limited due to the sensitive nature of the aircrafts and the role they carry out so didn’t expect to return with many photos and the day was going that way. Access to 51 Squadron was allowed but due to the Nimrod R1 being in deep service and too many panels being off it didn’t take place. The 5 Squadron Sentinel (ASTOR) wasn’t on base and the Air Ambulance had been called out. The E3-D AWACs were on base but photography opportunities were limited.
But as chance would have it the Indian Air Force’s Helicopter Display Team – ‘Sarang’ were on base getting ready to display at the RAF Waddington Air Show. Even better than that, they were going to practice a display routine that day.
A very impressive display!
There were some of the usual manoeuvres you would expect from a fast jet display team such as the opposing pass but I’ve never seen helicopter do them before.
They were difficult to capture as you are trying to photograph four fast moving helicopters using a slow shutter speed to get rotor blur. Add to this the large amount of smoke used in the display and the autofocus is really working hard.
I used a mix of 1/160s and 1/200s for the photos above.
With the display over and the helicopters on the ground the pilots were good enough to let us take a look around, take pictures and ask them questions.
The helicopter is the Indian made HAL Dhruv. It has a smoke generator attached to the left hand side (removed on these pictures but visible on the flying pictures) that uses a mixture of oil and dye to produce the smoke.
A great paint job on the helicopters with a peacock painted down both sides; it’s head on the door and it’s tail flowing down the side. If you are wondering why a peacock then it’s because the peacock is the national bird of India and is also the name of the team – ‘Sarang’.
I’d like to thank the pilots and the ground crew for allowing us to look around their aircraft and I look forward to seeing them again at the RAF Waddington Air Show.
Of course, you can’t go to RAF Waddington without taking a picture of Vulcan XM607 of Black Buck fame….