Category: Photo Essay

Visiting the VC10 at Brooklands.

Tonight while pondering the lack of interesting things around this time of year I ended up looking at my huge folder list and found that my Brooklands folder was dated 22/01/2015, so I looked through the pics and realised that I did not post as many of my VC10 pics as I would have liked; and this was a perfect opportunity to play catch up. I rate Brooklands. the Birthplace of British Motorsport & Aviation very high on my list of favourite museums because it had such a wide variety of exhibits that meant something to me. That included a Concorde, VC10, and of course a Wellington Bomber. 

There is one complete VC10 and one intact fuselage at the museum,

Vickers 1103 VC10 (G-ASIX “Sultan of Oman”) was built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd and first flown from Brooklands on 17/10/64 with delivery to British United Airways at Gatwick, she was transferred to British Caledonian in November 1970 and then sold to the Omani Government in 1974. Refurbished at BAC Hurn; she operated as ‘A40-AB’ by The Sultan of Oman’s Royal Flight at Muscat, and was the last civilian operated VC10 in service.

(1498×507)

Her final flight was from Muscat to Brooklands via Heathrow on 6/7/87, crewed by Officers of the Omani Royal Flight and with His Excellency Hussein Bin Mohammed Bin Ali (Omani Ambassador) and Sir Peter Masefield (Chairman of Trustees of the Museum) as passengers. I did not photograph all of the interior, but you can see from the pics below that this was not your run of the mill long haul airliner. (https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/explore/our-collection/aircraft/sultan-oman-vc10)

The VC10 is an aircraft from my past, even though I had never travelled on one or even been near to one until my Brooklands visit. It was an icon of aviation and very distinctive with the high tail and set back wings and 4 engines mounted at the rear. That tail was a very popular image used in advertising too.

The real thing is even more impressive.

SAA did not operate any of them, but BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) certainly did, and I believe they were regular callers at what was then Jan Smuts Airport (Now OR Tambo). In fact the VC10 was well suited to operate out of “Hot and High” airports (OR Tambo in Johannesburg is classed as a hot and high airport). The rear-mounted engines gave a more efficient wing and made them less vulnerable to runway debris. The resulting high fuel consumption compared to the contemporary Boeing 707 made the VC10 somewhat of a failure though, as major airlines dismissed the VC10 as it cost too much to operate. 

The other VC10 fuselage at Brooklands (G-ARVM “Victor Mike”): 

G-ARVM was the last Standard VC10 built, and built at Brooklands in 1963-64 with it’s maiden on 9 July 1964. She was was the 12th VC10 for BOAC and operated  BOAC and British Airways until she was retired in October 1979. (https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/explore/our-collection/aircraft/vc10-vm)

If my memory serves me correctly the interior seating was not her original seating but from when the RAF used to aircraft in a transport role.

The VC10 was in service with the  RAF for 47 years, and was very successful in air-to-air refuelling operations. It accomplished its final aviation milestone on 20 September 2013.

The VC10 is an iconic aircraft and one which we will never see the likes of again. Today the airliner is fast, efficient and has longer range and capacity. But, they all look pretty similar and very few stand out amongst the horde. I am glad that I was at least able to have a closer look at these because they are a part of aviation history.

DRW © 2020. Created 22/01/2020. 

Updated: 28/01/2020 — 10:36

Brrrrrrr

January has been a pretty uneventful month so far (touch wood), and apart from the wet and overcast skies there has been nothing to photograph. However, we are now heading downhill towards Spring and while anything can happen between then and now I am hoping that the rain decides to stay away for awhile or at least until the river levels have fallen. Down the road from me the all important harbinger of Spring is emerging from the ground. The Snowdrops are waking up, reminding us that the seasons change and that nature is keeping an eye open on us.

Unfortunately there do not seem to be too many snowdrop patches close to me, and the small patch that I watch out for is in a garden close by. I do know of a larger patch on the other side of town and when I head in that direction again I shall take my camera with.

Today is really the sort of day that I like. I am not a Summer person, I prefer the starkness and cold of Winter and when I go outside and see the frost I just feel so much better. There is something satisfying about the crunch of frost laden grass underfoot. 

Make no mistake though; I do not enjoy the frozen fingers and nose, especially when I am taking photographs. Here are some pics from this morning. The standing water is a result of yet another rise in river levels.

The little footbridge in the image below has spent a lot of this past season under water, and at the moment it is just re-emerging. Unfortunately that area is a morass of mud and turgid water so I won’t even consider venturing out there.

And the football field is really only fit for submarine races, water polo or kayaking.

(1500 x 617)

Winter is on the way out, but it is not too late for snow.  In March of 2018 we were snowed under, and while I love the snow I am always wary of the effects that it can have on simple things.  I will however just enjoy the weekend’s weather as it lifts my spirits slightly because I really need them lifted.

DRW © 2020. Created 18/01/2020

Updated: 18/01/2020 — 11:52

Christmas Day in pics

On Christmas Day we had spectacular weather after weeks of cloud and rain and misery. Granted, it was about 7 degrees, but the sun was shining and the wind had stopped and I grabbed my camera and headed out to take some pics. Town was deserted. 

Fortunately the current crop of floods are abating somewhat. On Saturday I had gone walkies and took a look at the water levels around us and things were not looking too good. This is the Severn looking towards the Mythe water works. 

(1500 x 435)

The pano above was taken on Saturday and is looking towards Bredon Hill across the waters from the Avon/Severn confluence.  Fortunately that water is subsiding and hopefully will remain low. As an aside, just think how fertile that soil must be.  Back in Town I headed towards the Abbey because it is always spectacular. Alas, the floods have cut off parts in that area too.  The area where the small white building is is the cricket pitch and the only game that can be there now is water polo. Howzat?

A few steps away is the parking lot for the Abbey and you can get some wonderful shots of it from this area.

The Abbey was unaffected by the 2007 floods, but you can bet that in its almost 900 years of existence it has seen a lot of water surrounding it.  There is a really huge tree in it’s grounds too that is a definite favourite of mine.  It must be really old and who knows how much it has seen. 

I went into the Abbey and had a quick walk around. The Christmas service was starting at 10.30 till 12.00 but I had a full bladder and no reading glasses so did not stay for it. But while I was there the choir was singing and the organ was making sweet thunderous music. Light was streaming into the east facing windows and it was very special. The pews were filling quite quickly too and on my way back home I saw lots of people heading towards it to attend the service.

Behind the High Altar was a nativity scene and the light was shining on it and it was very apt for a Christmas Day. Unfortunately I cropped the image badly and could not replicate the shot from other positions. 

Leaving the warmth and solidity of that ancient church I headed along the Mill Avon towards town. The deep shadows and bright patches made photography difficult, but there was a peaceful air about this part of the river.

The old mill and Victoria Gardens were under water once again, and the boats moored alongside were riding at pavement level. One boat caught my eye, the name board proclaiming it to be “Thunderchild” and immediately I thought about Jeff Waynes War of the World’s

“Thunderchild”

The Invaders must have seen them
As across the coast they filed
Standing firm between them
There lay Thunder Child.

I would have that piece of music going around inside my head for the rest of the day. In one of the alleys I came across this magnificent gate and that really wrapped up my photography for the day and I turned my bows towards home.

Break had a nice display of vintage toys and I paused for a pic…  Children are really the ones who enjoy the season the most, but alas Christmas has lost the magic and has become a commercialised monstrosity. 

Apart from food Christmas was done and dusted for another year. You can bet that Boxing day will be in its last throes and they will be putting out the Valentines Days goodies, although in South Africa it is more about “Back to School” instead,  and we all know how kids enjoy that too… NOT!

DRW © 2019-2020. Created 26/12/2019.  
Thunder Child lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songwriters: Jeff Wayne / Gary Osbourne.
Updated: 27/12/2019 — 06:41
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