Monday, June 17, 2013

Avro Vulcan over our garden

click photo to enlarge
It's not unusual to have military aircraft flying over our garden. After all, we live in Lincolnshire, the home of a number of RAF bases including some of the larger ones. Not too far away is Coningsby, a Typhoon base, so these fast jets are very familiar in the sky above us. Sometimes they are passing quickly over on their way to one of the firing ranges in The Wash. At other times they are simulating dog-fighting above us, one Typhoon following another, each seemingly trying to lock weapons on the other. Coningsby is also the home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight so we frequently see their Spitfires and Hurricanes, the Lancaster and the Dakota, as they make their way to air displays or commemorative events. The training aircraft of Cranwell (the RAF's College) and Barkston Heath are regularly criss-crossing the sky above us. Less frequent, but reasonably regular are the AWACS and Sentinels of RAF Waddington and the Red Arrows' Hawk aircraft from RAF Scampton. Assorted helicopters - Merlins, Lynx, Apaches and Chinooks sometimes rattle over too on missions to who knows where.

If all this makes it sound like there is a continuous cacophony of aircraft noise over chez Boughen let me assure you that's not the case: there is plenty of quiet when all that can be heard is the wind in the trees and bird song. A couple of days ago, however, everything was drowned out by the load roar of jet engines low over the roof tops. I shot out of the back door in time to see an Avro Vulcan - clearly the only flying example, number XH558 - at very low altitude, perhaps less than a thousand feet, disappearing behind the tree tops then banking steeply to the left. Was it turning on to a south easterly route or coming round again? In the hope it was the latter I dashed in, grabbed my compact camera and returned outside in time to fire off a few hasty shots as it made its second pass over the garden. The main photograph was the second shot I took as it passed in front of a watery sun that was shining through a veil of cloud. The smaller image was taken as it was heading towards the sun. Both photographs are cropped. Looking at the Vulcan's website I learned that it was probably heading for Hastings on the south coast for an air display. What I can't understand is why it flew over my garden not once, but twice. Had the pilot heard that I'm an occasional photographer of aircraft? I doubt it!

The flying hours of the engines of the Vulcan have almost expired and some airframe work is required. As things stand the plane is unlikely to fly after this year. I count myself fortunate to have seen it airborne in its last year and to have photographed it.

photographs and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/2000
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On