Sunday, 17 March 2013

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Me and my favourite V-Bomber!
Hi everyone!

So, this is my second guest blog for Handley Page Victor XL231 Lusty Lindy!

First of all, I would just like to thank Andre and his team for the warm (I say warm… It was extremely cold and snowy on Sunday!) welcome and generosity throughout the day!

I woke up, opened my presents, got ready and set off to Yorkshire Air Museum, or as most of us call it, Elvington. I live relatively close to Elvington; about an hour, hour and half away. For those who don’t know, you can see Lindy as you’re driving down Halifax Way… Now, I screamed my entire way down said road. I was extremely giddy; it had been 10 years since I’d last visited Lindy, so I was pretty excited about finally seeing her again.

Mum drove us to the museum, us being me, my sister, and my dad… and obviously mum, we parked up and I ran... I was however redirected to the hangar by my dad and sister; I think it’s fair to say that I was stunned by every aircraft in that hangar, especially the Lightning and the Buccaneers. I’d not seen Lindy yet, so I was still awaiting to be blown away by her, after running around the hangar for a good 20 minutes, we finally wandered over to Lindy.
Oh my goodness. I really had forgotten how beautiful Victors actually are. I walked over to the blue rope, where I was greeted by Andre and some of his other team members. I wasn’t sure what to say and honestly, I couldn’t get my head around Lindy. As peculiar as that sounds, it’s true and difficult to explain. I’d not felt that taken back by an aircraft in quite some time. I spoke to Andre, and I handed him a bag which had a box full of flapjack and some chocolates I’d brought back from a short trip to Belgium…

Andre popped over to Lindy’s cockpit and returned with a card and a lovely print of Lindy. The card was filled with lovely birthday messages which were from the wonderful TwitterVforce… Team Victor, Andy 617, Siobhan and Graeme, Jo (my adoptive mummy!), everyone from Hangar 3 (represeeeenttt!!!), Rod, and of course, Dave! The card really means a lot to me, it does… So thank you! Not forgetting that print of Lindy, blimey! It’s stunning and I love it. Thank you, Andre!

Lindy from the co-pilots seat of XV250
Andre said to me that Team Nimrod had offered to take me up into (Hawker Siddeley Nimrod) XV250 and show me around the aircraft. I just thought we’d just get to have little look around, but we got a full tour and I even got to sit in the co-pilots seat and experience stall alert; which was both exciting and hilarious! The tour was extremely informative, and really made my birthday quite special, so thank you, Team Nimrod!

I also got another gift, something that I’d always wanted to do, and something that made my day; if not my year. I won’t lie… I love Victors, Valiants, and Vulcans very much. Vulcans more than Valiants, and Victors more than both Vulcans and Valiants, I don’t often admit that, slightly due to the fact that I work with a Vulcan, more specifically, the last flying Vulcan. There’s something about Victors, I’ve always said it’s the way they look, and I think everyone has the same opinion. They look menacing, skeletal, and evil, however they are beautiful.

Anyways, onto this ‘gift’, after I’d left XV250, I’d walked back over to Andre and Team Victor, and I was asked if I’d like to go up into the cockpit… Now, my friends probably won’t be reading this… But if you are, me being asked if I want to go inside a Handley Page Victor’s cockpit is the equivalent to you being asked if you wanted to meet your idol. I couldn’t really believe what had just been offered to me!

After getting a warm, we walked back over to Lindy for a third time… This time, we headed up into the cockpit. Now, first thing that came to my mind was “how the hell do I get inside…” I’m quite short and I’ve only ever stepped foot into a plane via stairs, that are in someway attached to said plane. I’m not saying that Lindy is insanely difficult to get into but when you’re as short as I am, it can be a little tricky. There’s a set of stairs… and they are kind of attached to Lindy. The way we (we being me, dad and the kind gentleman who led us up into the cockpit) did it, was to climb so far up the steps, then crawl in. So now I’m standing inside a Handley Page Victor, and whilst I’m standing in there, I’m trying not to explode with excitement, and believe me, it was very difficult.

First thoughts, other than the incredible amount of exciting ‘feels’, from inside the cockpit were, ‘could it get any smaller?!’ I feel sorry for people who are slightly taller, that have to work in there! Like I said, I’m short. I’m 5ft 2, and I stood as far back as you can get inside the cockpit, and I was hunched over, quite far. Any who, I was told to go forward a little, a little bit more, and slightly further more, and plonk myself down in the co-pilots seat. Now, I don’t know if everyone who has been invited into Lindy’s cockpit has been allowed to do that, but for me, it was quite the moment. I had always wanted to just stand in there, but to actually be allowed to sit in her co-pilots seat… Well, that was just the cherry on top, and the sprinkles, and the whipped cream, and the chocolate sauce, and more. I really couldn’t believe where I was sitting, I’ll admit I wanted to press every button, flick every switch, and pretend I was bombing it down the runway, who wouldn’t want to! Obviously, I didn’t and it’s fair to say that I am quite jealous of Team Victor and what they get to do!

We were sat inside the cockpit for about 10-15 minutes, but it felt like a decade, it was amazing! We climbed into Lindy whilst she was up on the jack, and she was released whilst we were sat down in the front of the cockpit. I think someone said she was only about 6 inches up… When we dropped it felt more like 50ft!

I took quite a few pictures, and I really didn’t want to leave but I was just so happy that I’d finally got the chance to sit inside a V-Bomber… My favourite V-Bomber! Honestly, it still doesn’t feel quite real… You know, I bet those who have sat in Victors, and still do (I’m talking about you Team Victor!) probably think that I’ve gone mad, but it’s something I imagined I’d never get the chance to do. So thank you, Andre and Team Victor – You and Team Nimrod made my birthday the best one yet!

My #TwitterVForce Birthday Card
After climbing out of the cockpit, my family and I headed over to the NAAFI to get yet another warm, and a cup of tea. In the NAAFI, I’d finally got the chance to a have a look at the print Andre had given me, in peace without the blistering cold wind trying to rip the gift from my hands. It also gave me a chance to have a look at my birthday card properly. I just really wanted to say a big thank you for the card. I don’t think you lot really know how much it means to me! The print as well, I absolutely adore it.

All of above basically happened because of Twitter. If I wasn’t on Twitter, I wouldn’t know Andre, Team Nimrod, or the beloved TwitterVforce, and this also means that I may have never got the chance to experience sitting in both XL231 and XV250’s co-pilot seats. I’ve gained so many friends through Twitter, and I’ve recently gained some absolutely incredible experiences. I’m very honoured and lucky to have met Andre and some of his team both online and in person.

Back to my visit – I had visited Lindy for a fourth and final time, the museum was getting ready to close and I was getting ready to collapse due the possible frostbite and exhaustion from all the excitement. I’d walked back over with my sister, I was too afraid to cross the blue rope, so I called Andre over to tell him I was leaving and that I’d hope to be back soon. He told me to stay in contact and I had my photo taken with the team.

I didn’t want to leave, as always. Even though I was extremely cold and tired, I could have quite happily stowed myself away somewhere in or around the museum. I felt really rather happy and content there. I cannot wait to go back, hopefully when it’s a little bit warmer.

Once more, I would like to thank Andre and Lusty Lindy’s fabulous team!

Don’t forget – Team Victor is hoping to taxy Lusty Lindy this summer, however… In order to do that they need fuel and jet fuel ain’t cheap! So pleeeeeeeaaaaaseeeee, The Roving Reporter is requesting that you give whatever you can, even if it’s just £5… It’s something.

Also, if you’re visiting Lusty Lindy at Yorkshire Air Museum… Team Victor run on flapjacks, that’s their fuel…

Thank you for reading,


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