266. Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford
Theo, Sue and I arrived on Thursday to rig 1264 and found the BAe Systems display team well stuck in. We met the event manager, Caroline Hurrell, together with her husband john who is a trainer for BAe Systems and flies the Shuttleworth aircraft.
Dodge Bailey had just flown in with the Shuttleworth’s Sea Hurricane, which, together with the Avro Anson, Blackburn B2, and DH Moth (all based at Shuttleworth, but owned by BAe Systems) and 1264, would form the static display illustrating BAe System’s heritage.
The three biplanes were housed in clear plastic tents, which were sufficiently substantial to give us confidence they’d withstand any weather over the weekend.
Rigging was done in a couple of hours, and we began the laborious business of trying to find all the necessary passes for accommodation, food and so on. This took much of the rest of the afternoon, and we retired to a local hotel.
The remainder of the show passed in a kind of blur. Friday was enlivened by the possibility of a visit by the Cambridges – William, Kate and young George – and indeed they approached us, the rope was lowered and we prepared to be introduced. But we were merely a shortcut to the Australian transport plane beyond, and we relaxed again.
On Saturday we got stuck for an hour and a half in the queue of traffic making its way to the show, but Prince Michael of Kent came to see us and we were able to update him on our travels since we saw him last.
Then at about midday we were joined by Rick And Marian, and it was great to be at full strength for the remainder of the day. We’d bought all our silverware with us, and took the opportunity to pose with it all.
One other visitor was Mark Horton, of TV’s Time Team and Coast programmes, and I took the opportunity to tell him how disappointed we were that the piece on the Coast programme about the recovery of the SS Great Britain from Dundrum Bay in Northern Ireland failed to mention our great great great great great uncle, James Bremner who achieved this remarkable feat, transposing him instead with a certain Isembard Kingdom Brunel. He had the good grace to look slightly embarrassed, and I showed him the model of the SS Great Britain, in which he showed a good deal of expertise and interest.
On Sunday we arrived in good time, thanks to VIP passes spirited up by the imperturbable Caroline, and spent a full twelve hours on our feet, talking to the visitors, telling the story, hearing theirs, lifting children in and out of the cockpit to have their photographs taken (as well as three Turkish technicians who invited themselves to sit in the cockpit. I wondered what they’d have said if we’d done the same to the aircraft they were here to look after).
We thought the European trip was exhausting, but this plumbed new depths of our energy levels, and Monday, during which we packed 1264 up, towed her to Yeovilton (getting stuck in a half hour queue on the A303 apparently caused by Stonehenge) and driven home, passed in a blur.
But it was absolutely worthwhile; it’s what we’re here for, to spread the word about the Bristol Scout and its importance in aviation history, and this was the best opportunity to do this so far.
And here are some pictures I took while we were there.