Saturday, 20 November 2010


Rumour has it that the Harrier will cease flying operations on or about the 16th of December, what a sad day that will be; with such a time limit set to see them in air I have spent as much time as I can photographing their unique and amazing flying capabilities at RAF Cottesmore, I hope to get them low-level in Wales again before its just a memory!
So here are a few more of many of the shots taken in recent weeks, plus a shot of a French Navy Embraer Xingu that stole the best light of the day when I wanted Harrier sunset shots!

Friday, 29 October 2010


Another of British aviation's finest is now heading for the scrapheap. The Harrier is nearly as old as I am, but it's still a very formidable aircraft, probably one of the best close air support platforms ever and I do not comprehend the logic behind scrapping it!
Design started in 1957, I was 2 and it entered service when I was 14 years old; ever since then it has wowed everyone, not just aviation enthusiasts, a real crowd pleaser, this 'jump jet' and the Vulcan was what my now departed dad always wanted to see on the airshow list.
I remember being totally gobsmacked seeing Harriers for the first time at Farnborough, they just rose up out of the trees at the far side of the airfield during an airfield attack to see off the marauding Sea Vixens (Simon's Circus, 890 squadron display team I think). I am still just as impressed seeing them screaming through the Mach loop in appalling weather piloted by the RAF's finest. I have also spent long hours at various bases photographing them.
RAF Cottesmore has been their home since the departure of the Tri-national Tornado training unit in 1999, I have been there many times and not always seen much activity, so it was joyous that this weeks 'pilgrimage' was like a private airshow for the above average number of spotters gathered for another sad-eyed fix of a favourite jet.
It was the best day I've had at the base, 9 aircraft flew including a 2 seat T10, all the pilots gave a friendly wave before deafening us, the smell of burnt kerosene tingled in my nostrils and a few tears rolled down my cheeks too, my dad would have loved that day as much as I did!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Eagles at last light.

One of those slow days where nothing seemed to be happening at Lakenheath was lifted by a very posy Little Owl on the fence, I spent a while photographing it and got some nice images, the base however stayed silent, the cloud came over the sky and then the rain fell.. time to go home except one of the other guys there had car problems and I decided to stay at least until the breakdown service arrived!
Some things happen for a reason, without Robert's car failing to start we'd have been long gone when the last rays of sunlight came out and lit the departing F15Es with quality light, an evening that will be long remembered. Loads more images on my Flickr

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Raptors in Suffolk

I had heard that the 2 Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors due in the UK for RIAT and Farnborough would visit RAF Lakenheath a day or two before the big airshows, then on Monday I was informed 4 were due in at 7:30 that evening, I dropped everything and headed to the Suffolk base.
Of course I wasn't the only one to get advanced info, the aircraft had been heard by lots of avid scanner listening 'spotters' and excited messages had gone out on various online forums, the area around Lakenheath was packed with aviation enthusiasts.
Some F15Cs launched to go and meet the visitors, cameras were checked and rechecked as the hum of excitement got louder, the F15Cs returned, perfect for some test shots, checking the histogram and tweaking the settings, then in came the Raptors to touchdown at 7:30pm!
Will they go low-level; I doubt it, as it's not necessary for the high level intercept role this stealthy futurist jet was designed for, but who knows, I would love to see these pouring vapour and screaming through Cad or around Corris, but I think it'll only be if I photoshop it!!!

Flying legends

I am sure it's obvious from the content of my blog that I love jets, the scream of Typhoons and the roar of F15Es around the loop are awesome noises... but the song of Merlins as a 'choir' of 10 Spitfires growl up the grass and into the air at Duxford's spectacular 'Flying legends' show is THE music of aviation.
Legends is the airshow that I just cannot miss, year on year it gets better, 3 hours of beautifully preserved and maintained 'Warbirds' fill the air for such a full on show, you really don't know which way to look.
Apart from the flying there is also the reenactors that surround the airfields parked aircraft and present a picture of wartime, the like of this I have only ever seen 'on set' when I used to work on movies. Photographically it's the combination of people and planes that is the 'icing on an already tasty cake' I took so many pictures I have still to look at and edit many of them.
A fantastic show!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Eagle'y awaited

After spending some time photographing Siskins on bird feeders it seemed like a good idea to get up a hill (especially with a heads-up that it might be productive), instead of tackling traffic queues on the M54, M6 & M1, a good move it turned out to be too with late afternoon Harrier, Hawk (T1 & T2) and F15E Strike Eagle passes, result!

Airshow heaven

A great weekend that made a big change from an intensive month of bird photography, the first shot is of the beautifully preserved Westland Lysander at the Shuttleworth collection, flying in the evening airshow, this and many more can be seen on my Flickr gallery.
The other 4 images are from a great day at the Duxford's spring show; a hard days work..not! I would love to get more jobs as utterly pleasurable as this was, the guys from "Photo-Plus" magazine joined me and reader Vince Scott, the brief; teach Vince how to photograph airshows, the feature will cover 10 pages in the July issue, so order a copy at your newsagent now.
I will add a longer report on this in a few days, but you will see in the last image that we met up with the 2010 Hawk display pilot, Tom Saunders, who happily posed with his jet for a load of images.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Run to the hill's

At long last I made my first trip to the Welsh hills for 2010, it was December when I was there last!
Cad west on the first day saw several passes from the RAF Valley Hawk's that soon got the eye and panning back in shape, then in fabulous late afternoon light we got a Hercules, plus T12 and GR9 Harriers. I packed up at 6pm because the shadow of Cader was lengthening across the pass, true to form I got "carparked" by a GR4 at 6:10 pm.
Day 2 was a great day; I tried a new site that has been in my sight's for several months; it has struck me as being the other best place (to Corris) to shoot F15E's, the LN boy's turned up, did the passes just "as it say's on the tin" and landed Keith Williams and I a Low-fly jackpot win, with the Boscombe Alpha jet, GR4s, 2 Typhoons, a Hercules and several Hawks we just needed a Harrier to complete the set!