Well, Christmas is almost upon us and while it’s been a good year for me – and my new wife – I really can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring! This year, I’ve got married which was undoubtedly the highlight of the year, but in terms of photography it has been great. I’ve had a lot of exposure and a fair number of new clients. As a result, I’ve also been asked to be a member of staff for the highly respected website UK Airshow Review (UKAR). I’ve been a member for several years but was asked a few weeks ago to become a staff member. That means more airshows for me but also getting in to something I wanted to do which is combining writing with photography. Hopefully I’ll get a few articles published as a result.
I’ve already written a short piece for one of UKAR’s top moments of 2017, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Thompson Formation, as seen at air shows this year.
In a welcome change to their displays of previous years, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight marked their 60th anniversary in spectacular fashion, honouring the founder of the original team. Wing Commander Peter Thompson, DFC, established the Historic Air Flight at Biggin Hill in 1957 and to celebrate this milestone in aviation heritage, the team created “Thompson Formation”, a quartet of fighters, to fly at a handful of shows this year.
After a short routine of backtracking on the runway, the fighters took off one-by-one and once formed, they completed a series of leisurely flypasts, led by the Lancaster in its first display of the year having returned fresh from major maintenance work. As if the roar of eight Rolls-Royce engines in the air at once wasn’t enough, Thompson Formation – consisting of three Spitfires and a Hurricane – then broke away from the Lancaster and entered a tail chase display. Pushing as much as you would want to with 70-year-old vintage aircraft, the routine was elegant, commanding and dynamic yet retained all the poignancy that the Memorial Flight is about. It is quite remarkable that, although the types and numbers of aircraft the BBMF have flown over the years has changed, two aircraft that were part of the original Historic Air Flight, Hurricane LF363 and Spitfire PS915, were part of the display and continue to be an active element of the BBMF.
One unique characteristic to the Memorial Flight is that their displays, no matter where, are just as much about the sound as they are the sight. The commentary team must be applauded for only speaking when they had to, once the aircraft had passed, allowing the evocative sound of those Merlin and Griffon engines to be appreciated by the huge crowd, many of whom seemed compelled to silence in a moment of remembrance to “the few”.
In addition to this, keep your eyes peeled for a new addition to the website as I’ll be presenting a podcast soon – more news to come soon!
So to all of my followers I wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.