One important lesson that Sci-Fi has taught me (because there is more than one) is that out there (in the grand-multi-universe-sense of ‘out there’) are countless versions of me, who are like me but not exactly the same as me. For example, if I were a man and it were Star Trek OS then at least one of these alternates would be evil and have a goatee. On a more serious note, I like to think that this means that ‘out there’ is a version of Lizzie that has discovered and, more importantly, named a new dinosaur. There is also ‘out there’ a version of Lizzie who is a pilot. Not a Russell-Casse-in-Independence-Day kinda pilot (“Hell Boys, I’m back!”). No, this Lizzie is a pilot with the RAF and flies a Typhoon.* This thought brings me great comfort as 1) flying machines are awesome in a MacGyver-is-awesome kinda way and 2) I live out my preteen fantasies. As a 12 year old I was obsessed with the 1969 film the Battle of Britain. To the point where I made model aircraft and suspended them from my ceiling in dog-fighting scenarios (something my Mum just loved, pins in the ceiling). All I wanted to be was a pilot and fly a Hurricane.
As you can deduce, the Lizzie who writes this can fly neither Typhoon nor Hurricane and the closest I’ve gotten to formation anything were dance routines as a child. I have accepted that it is now too late to start my career as a RAF pilot. This realisation does not diminish my delight at watching pilots and their flying machines. If anything, it increases my pleasure of such activities. I live vicariously through them as a spectator.
Last Saturday I undertook my regular pilgrimage to the Waddington International Air Show. It was a gorgeous day, as anyone in the UK will attest: last weekend the weather was magnificent. As the British are particular about the weather (it is a national obsession), this called for as much skin to be exposed as possible by the British public. As a Kiwi who grew up just as the sun-smart campaign really kicked off in NZ (thanks to Mr Ozone Hole), I find this disturbing (sunburn isn’t pleasant, skin cancer is worse). I cannot stress the importance of sunblock and sun sense my friends. Judging from the large amount of pink skin I saw on the way back to the car that evening there would have been some sore punters the next day. However, the weather did make for fantastic flying machine conditions: sunshine, clear skies with just enough of a breeze to stop it from getting too overbearing.
The helicopters, planes and piloting were as wonderful as always. There are displays that one just does not tire of seeing, in particular the BBMF and Vulcan. The Red Arrows were as amazing as you would expect, while the Patrouille de France display with their tight (and I mean tight) formation flying was impressive. I particularly enjoyed their version of the Cupid Heart with three planes forming each side of the heart (as opposed to the Red Arrows’ one plane on each side).
However, being something of a sentimentalist (and being equally obsessed with the 1955 film The Dambusters as I was with the Battle of Britain) the definite highlight of the day was the flypast of the Lancaster with the Tornado from 617 Squadron in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise. The sound of the jet with the four Merlins was just magic.
Once again, I took some photos with my trusty point-and-shoot camera. While not masterpieces of photography, I’ll share some of the better shots with y’all.
*In fact the career of said Lizzie (I’ve thought about this for a while) includes the highlights of piloting a Typhoon, Red Arrow and Hurricane from the BBMF. It is an illustrious career – I mean why dream anything but big?