At the beginning of the year we hoped to be able to raise enough money to refuel XL231 to a satisfactory level, enabling us to carry out displays and engine runs for 2013. We were immensely pleased to be able to do this with the help and support of team members, colleagues, friends and supporters - Thank you one and all.
Saturday 11th May was to be XL231's first 'debut' for the year. Resplendent in her new and fully authentic, early 1980's to end of service, Hemp and Light Aircraft Grey colour scheme she shone like a new pin. The crew was; Myself in the left hand seat, Flt lt Olly Suckling R/H seat, AEO Sqn Ldr Al Stephenson and the Crew Chief, Chief Tech Grant Sparks. Passengers for the test run were; Christine Mellor (6th seat) John Hawkridge (ever suffering electrician) in the Nav Plotter seat and Brian "tow bar" Watmough in the Nav Radar seat. After going through the checks in the Flight Reference cards with Al Stephenson reading them out, the engines were started without any fuss. No snags were picked up and I taxyied the aircraft around the massive 52 acre concrete pan, to test out brakes and steering. Once we were satisfied that all systems were in great shape, the engines were taken up to high power in pairs to check that the engine air bleed valves closed above 90% RPM. The AEO reported all four engine alternators were on line and their loads and busbars fully synchronised. I taxyied the aircraft around the pan a few times before taxying back to the Crew Chief and see-in crew and the aircraft was shut down serviceable for the next days full runway display.
|The Crew: Rachel, Ollie, VIP, Andre, Al (photo credit: Rachel Semlyn)|
For the main display on Sunday I decided to offer the Captains seat to Olly, he didn't take much persuading! I was in the right hand seat. We had several guests on-board for the display including; Vulcan XH558's pilot Martin Withers and Yorkshire Air Museum founding Trustee Rachel Semlyn in the Nav plotter position, the Nav Radar seat was occupied by an invited guest of the Museum. The day wasn't the greatest, gusting winds and on and off heavy rain showers. However, the aircraft was started and checked over without any problems and Olly very confidentally taxyied her out of the pan to a tight turn through the intersection to the runway. He taxyied her completely naturally and at the Eastern end of the runway turned her fully, in one go, on the runway. The power up, high speed run up to 85 knots in a wall of spray was extremely well carried out and we kept on the centre-line for the whole run. At the Western end we turned for a brake check by the fire crew and some of our team and treated them to a high power departure with a clean pair of heels! The taxy back in was fine and the aircraft threw no snags at us, I noted all the compass headings as being correct on all systems at shutdown, not bad for an aircraft that last had a compass swing in 1993! The only noted snag was the Starboard landing lamp had rattled its bulb to pieces during the taxy back in!
All in all a first class effort by all concerned and we celebrated with a good bottle of Champers and YES, XL231 did also have a drop, Olly poured some on her Port underwing tank!
Photos courtesy of Amy Parkin - Thanks Amy :)