Thunderbirds and Hurricanes

Another period of blogging silence and you may well wonder ‘what has Lizzie been up to?’ Well, lots and nothing in particular would be the answer. However, the silence will now be broken by a little Lizzie update and a timely one at that, as Lizzie the Blogger is now TWO years old! Golly.

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts you will know that I think flying machines are cool. In fact, they are right up there on my personal wall of cool, somewhere around MacGyver and Hank Williams. One of the perks of switching hemispheres was that I’ve got to see a lot of aircraft fly that I might not otherwise of seen. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), in particular the Lancaster, immediately spring to mind. In fact this regard I have been twice as fortunate in as my family live within easy driving distance of RAF Coningsby, where the BBMF are housed. This has led to many a saunter down to the base to watch the BBMF come home from and be put to bed. Does the sight and sound of the BBMF ever get tiring? Absolutely not, in fact it never ceases to be enthralling and exhilarating. RAF Waddington annual air show is weekend of aerial lusciousness that is also becoming a favourite of mine. I missed it last year for the first time in two years and I was determined to attend it this time around. A Saturday spent on an air base, sat in a folding chair and watching extremely talented men and women wow me with their flying prowess is a Saturday well spent in my opinion.

Like every year, RAF Waddington has its fun fair rides and booths; admittedly I skip past all this at a fairly brisk trot. I generally only stop to take photos of things that look rather absurd but, given their place and context, also look totally natural and not silly at all. Like a giant grasshopper that looks just enough like Jiminy Cricket without breaching copyright and dozens of bright, giant cuddly toys hanging like game in a butcher’s shop window.

The static displays hold a bit more interest, though I’m yet to see one that beats the sense of humour of a parachuting giant ALF descending from its side. This year I didn’t quite have the time to truly appreciate the static aircraft as I arrived slightly later in the morning than I had originally planned. So instead I focused on watching the aerial displays. The highlight of the day was, without a doubt, the USAF Thunderbirds. If for no other reason than 1) I’ve never seen them display before but have over the years heard many a good things about them and 2) their appearances over UK skies are not very frequent. So I was chuffed to bits to see them display this year and I am even more pleased to report that they were Spectacular, with a capital S. I was sat near to the runway, eardrum-ringing close to where the planes took off and I must say, the noise of four F16 Thunderbirds taking off in formation is something that is actually almost indescribable. I knew the Thunderbirds were renowned for their tight (and I mean tight) formations, but geez Louise, it is something that needs to be witnessed to be believed. Amazing.

If the American display was everything that I love about the pageantry of the USA (think: Big! Bold! Brash! A rock concert of an air display!), then the British displays were everything that I love about the pageantry of the UK (think: understated, subtle, a seat at a performance of Elgar). When it comes to the best of British air craft, there was certainly a plethora of it that day. The Red Arrows, BBMF and Vulcan all being exceptional examples of flying machines strutting their stuff for the Waddington public. Although there is one plane of that triplet of acts that I have a particular soft spot for and that is the Hurricane. Why? I’m not actually sure, maybe because it was the first plane I thought was really, really cool. And how is it not cool? Its adorable and tough, graceful and ferocious all at the same time. If I had to pick my favourite WWII-era fighter, then the Hurricane it would be (though the Spitfire would run a pretty close second).

Now, I don’t have one of those fancy cameras that many an attendee of an air show has – you know the ones with long lenses and rapid shot taking capabilities. Mine is just a point and shoot and only takes photos as fast as my little fingers can push the button. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good camera, but it’s not one of those over-compensating monsters that you see others have dangling from their neck. Regardless, I took one or two photos of the flying machines that I am fairly proud of, all things considered, which I shall share with y’all.

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