Tuesday, 26 November 2013

20th Anniversary Taxy run

The 25th November 2013 was totally different day to the 25th November 1993. The weather was 'balmy' and almost spring-like and we didn't mind one bit!

Press and TV presence was plentiful and myself, Ollie Suckling, Al Stephenson and Brian Watmough all spoke to the camera.

ITV News Footage

Modern technology ensured the aircraft was getting the coverage she deserved in the fact that Lionel from Driver Skills.com on the airfield was able to employ his state of the art suction cameras all over the aeroplane. In addition to this he utilised his flying 'eye in the sky' camera platform. Any aerial footage on the day was thanks to Lionel. In addition to Lionel's cameras the TV companies installed their own and extra cameras were supplied by Ollie Suckling.

The first aircraft to run was the Nimrod and her crew put on an impressive display. We crewed into the Victor at 13.00 hrs and started engines at 13.25

Ollie slow taxied two circuits of the former V Bomber QRA pan at the end of the runway before a short blast of power and a gentle taxy down to the end of the runway for the main display.

The brake check crew comprising of Andy, Rick and Kayleigh gave the thumbs up for 'GO' after a quick once over and we then waited with engines idling for the correct time of 14.16 when she actually touched down. In fact we had been early so, we had over 10 minutes to wait.

At 14.15 and 30secs Ollie wound the engines up to 88% for a brake slip check and she stuck like glue to the spot with the weight of thrust burying her nose downhill. Satisfied that the brakes were good he then put the power on and up to 103% Combat Setting. The nose lifted and she accelerated like a rocket up to 110knots with myself calling out the speeds. Ollie then cut power and streamed the tail braking parachute. There were no crosswind problems and all was good. At first Ollie thought it was a 'no stream' as the pull was gentle at first but the pictures prove otherwise!

We carried the chute the full length of the runway with the inboard engines keeping the chute inflated and just before turning into the V Bomber QRA for shutdown the chute was jettisoned. I'm pleased to say it detached cleanly and dropped flat without apparently tangling the rigging lines and we turned in for shutdown checks and final closedown.

During the run the aircraft displayed no snags, all 4 engine alternators were on line and producing enough power for a small town and all other systems were normal. 20 years ago the Senior Engineering Office of 55Sqn, Sqn Ldr Sargeant suggested XL231 as a good bet for purchasing as she was one of the more reliable squadron jets. I'm glad we took his advice!

Once the shutdown was out of the way it was time to meet the press and TV, then Lindy herself had a good drink of champagne and we congratulate ourselves on a successful day.

It has been a privilege to operate and care for such a rare and charismatic aircraft, I hope we can keep going a good while yet!
The crew for this historic day were;
Captain, Flt Lt Ollie Suckling.
Co, Andre Tempest
AEO, Sqn Ldr Alan Stephenson
6th seat, Sqn Ldr Martin Withers DFC
Nav plotter, Mrs Christine Watmough on her Birthday!
Nav Radar, Sqn Ldr Mick Beer (standby AEO)
Crew Chief, Grant Sparks

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