Clive Hanley Photography: Blog en-us (C) Clive Hanley Photography (Clive Hanley Photography) Mon, 16 Jul 2012 13:14:00 GMT Mon, 16 Jul 2012 13:14:00 GMT Clive Hanley Photography: Blog 90 120 Wellesbourne Wings & Wheels 2012.  

Published with consent from Vulcan AEO Sqn Ldr Barry Masefield (RAF Ret'd).  

Wellesbourne Wing and Wheels 2012



Every year at Wellesbourne Mountford airfield near Stratford on Avon the XM655 MaPS (Maintenance and Preservation Society) team of Vulcan enthusiasts who look after Vulcan XM655 hold their Wings and Wheels Open Day.  This annual occasion allows these enthusiasts to proudly show off their Vulcan aircraft to the public.  Most of you who read my blogs will be aware that XM655 features highly in the VTTS aircrew pre-season training and I feel quite privileged when the XM655 MaPS team invite me down to Wellesbourne to assist in the running of their aircraft during their Open Day.  When I did the same thing last year I was in the company of Martin Withers who was standing in for David Thomas (he couldn’t attend due to commitments with the Waddington air show).  This year however David was there along with Michael Pollitt who as most of you will recall was the VTTS Operations Director until a couple of years ago.  The ‘dream’ team of David, Michael and me have long been associated with 655 and have been starting up and taxiing that particular aircraft for over a decade.  For those of you who have never been to the Wings and Wheels Day the highlight of the day is when XM 655 is started up in front of the public and taxied out onto the runway where we then open up the throttles to complete a fast run down the runway.  There are many other events going on during the day too involving fly pasts by other display teams who are either on their way to or returning home from air shows.  This particular weekend was the Cosford air show and as a consequence several of the display teams participating in that show had agreed to visit Wellesbourne either on their way to or from the air show. Such is the reputation of the MaPS organisation that very rarely do they get a negative answer when they ask some of the display teams to do either a flypast or maybe even a mini display. The whole day runs seamlessly and is all ‘stitched’ together by a continual commentary by David Rowlands.  David is an ex Concorde captain from his days when he was flying with British Airways and is an extremely experienced aviator.  Not only that he was President of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2008-9 and is always held in high regard by all who know him in the aviation world.

Our weekend normally starts with the aircrew assembling at the airfield cafe on the Saturday morning when we can catch up with what we’ve all been doing since we last met.  Of course, being in an airfield cafe there were plenty of other aviators around us many of whom are Vulcan enthusiasts.  Needless to say each and every one of them in the cafe wanted to know the latest state of play with 558.  It was really encouraging to see that there was no anger or bitterness at the fact that 558 had had a bit of a mishap which has unfortunately resulted in us missing the initial displays of the 2012 display season.  All of the aviators just wanted to know when she would be out of the hangar again and available to fly.  This seemed to be the general view of all who we met over the weekend whether they were aviators or just aviation enthusiasts.  No anger at 558’s situation, just a great deal of continuing support, and a genuinely held pragmatic view that accidents happen in all walks of life and that we were just unfortunate to have had one when we did.  No one tried to question us about what our thoughts were on the matter, they were all just genuinely concerned that at least no one had been hurt. As one member of the public said to me “engines can be replaced, aircrew and ground crew can’t”.  Obviously the truthful and ‘up front’ statements put out by the VTTS had satisfied all those who were genuine enthusiasts and that was sufficient for them.

Having done our social chatting it was soon time to start work. Once our pre flight walk around of the aircraft to check everything externally was in order had been completed we started up the aircraft to make sure that all was working as advertised. With the checks completed we took 655 for a ‘walk’ in a figure of eight on the disused runway to check out the nose wheel steering and braking system. As we sat comfortably in the cockpit doing our checks the sky got darker and darker and eventually it poured with rain.  The ground crew outside were all huddled under the wings to try and keep dry but most of them eventually got soaked once we started to taxi.  Seeing these poor bedraggled technicians getting soaked was a salutary reminder to me what a wonderful bunch of guys they are.  Their enthusiasm for 655 knows no bounds and they were quite prepared to get soaked to the skin to ensure that their ‘baby’ could do her thing.  Anyway, having checked out all the aforementioned systems we taxied the aircraft down to the end of the runway.  Once there the pilots applied a modicum of power in order to commence a fastish run of about 40 knots back down the runway. This was to check out the braking system for the following day’s events. Satisfied that all was working well the pilots taxied the aircraft back to the starting point where we shut her down.  This might be an appropriate time to mention that although we had the ‘dream team’ organised to taxi the aircraft David Thomas had decided to stay down the back with me because we had been joined by retired Group Captain John Laycock and David had given up his pilot’s seat so that John could taxi the aircraft with Mike Pollitt. John Laycock, as many of you who have read the book Vulcan 607 written by Rowland White will remember, was the Station Commander of RAF Waddington back in 1982 when the Falklands campaign was being fought.  It was John who commanded and oversaw all that went on at RAF Waddington during that period. It was through his great leadership and genuine concerns and affection for his aircraft engineers, his aircrews and the rest of his Station personnel that ensured the Vulcan force did the magnificent job that they did when they were tasked with the bombing of the runway at Port Stanley.  John, as he climbed into the aircraft, was mistakenly under the impression that he was going to be standing on the ladder between the two pilots. He thought that he was just coming along for the ride and to experience travelling in the Vulcan once again after nearly 30 years away from the aircraft.  Little did he know that David had hatched a cunning plan in cahoots with Charles Brimson who is in charge of the MaPS organisation.  Between them they had agreed that John should act as co pilot to Mike and that David would stand on the steps between them to monitor what was going on and give assistance should it be needed.  As John said afterwards, climbing into the Vulcan was like finding and putting on, after many years, a pair of his most comfortable shoes and once he was in the aircraft it felt as if he had never been away.

As we progressed through the checks I was amazed that even after several decades away from the aircraft John could still remember quite a lot of the replies to the checks as I was reading them.  Thinking that this was to be just a one-off experience for him he was stunned to find out that he was going to act as the co pilot for the following day too.  Talk about a dog with two tails!!  While John was having a wonderful time up the front I had my own surprises lined up too for the lucky persons who had been selected from the ground support personnel to travel with me down the back. I had two people with me, one of whom, Ben, is a young teenage boy and the other was David, one of the very skilled technicians who had made, from fibreglass, 4 x 1000lb replica bombs which we were carrying in the bomb bay.  Little did these guys know that one of them was going to operate the electrical generating systems, under my supervision of course, when we were doing the start-up of the aircraft and the other would operate them for the shut down procedure.  I was quite impressed with their confidence when playing with such a myriad of switches and dials.  Don’t want them to do it too often though otherwise I’ll be out of a job!!

This had set the tone for the events of the following day.  At 1130 we were to start up and taxi the aircraft out on to the runway once more for a slow amble past the assembled crowds so that they could take photos as we passed in front of them.  We usually select the airbrakes out and open the bomb doors so that they can photo the aircraft in all of its different configurations.  Once again Mike and John were up the front with David in attendance while down the back I had another couple of passengers, Avril and Damaris, who once again were acting as pseudo AEOs operating the AEOs panel under my close supervision. Having reached the end of the runway and after ensuring that the two passengers down the back with me were securely seated Mike elected to accelerate the aircraft up to about 40 knots to run back down the runway to where we had started before taxiing in and subsequently park the aircraft in front of the crowd.  As the day progressed with several over-flights by many different aircraft who had come to participate in the Open Day it soon became time at 1330 for us to start up and taxi 655 once again. This time Charles had agreed that my partner Rae, much to her surprise and delight, should be the passenger with us for the afternoon event.  Although she has been into the Vulcan on previous occasions she has never had the opportunity of seeing what happens when we start up the aircraft and taxi it.  She has been such a stalwart and a source of constant support to me over the years.  She has the patience of Job when I continually ramble on about what happens in the aircraft and I thought that at last she could experience it all for herself. I was under the impression that she was going to be down the back with me to watch what it is that I do as the AEO but before I knew it David had positioned her on the ladder between the two pilots to watch the events from the pilot’s perspective. We also had Len who is one of the MaPS avionics technicians travelling with us but for reasons known only to himself he elected to go down into the bomb aimers position in the nose and watch everything go by from the little window down there.  The checks progressed without a hitch and soon it was time for John to taxi the aircraft out onto the runway.  It was at this stage that I heard a helicopter on the Air Traffic Control radio frequency saying that he was going to climb up to a few thousand feet and film the whole event.  I heard him a bit later telling the controller that he had indeed filmed the event and had got some good pictures.  Maybe if he reads this blog he might like to contact Charles Brimson to show Charles his footage.  By now we had reached the end of the runway and once Len and I were both securely strapped in down the back and Rae was securely held on the ladder by David, Mike and John opened up the throttles to 80 per cent power, held the aircraft on the footbrakes for a short while and then released them and wound the engines up to just below full power.  The aircraft leapt forward with ever increasing acceleration until we reached 80 knots when the throttles were then closed and the airbrakes were fully extended to slow the aircraft.  At the same time the pilot, Mike, pulled back on the control column to raise the nose into that spectacular aerodynamic braking configuration before gently lowering the nose back once again on to the runway so that the weight of the aircraft was on the nose wheel.  Once that had been achieved the pilots could then commence braking and steer the aircraft using the nose wheel steering.  It wasn’t long before we had slowed sufficiently for them to turn the aircraft around and taxi back to the dispersal where we were met by a very excited and appreciative crowd. 

I think that we had pleased a lot of people that weekend but none more so than John Laycock. I mentioned earlier that after the previous days events he was like a dog with two tails simply because he had just done a figure of eight and a moderately fast run down the runway to test the aircraft brakes.  Now, after having done two taxi runs including a higher speed fast run, his joy was plain to see.  We all have a lot of respect and admiration for John and what he has done over the years and to be able to give him that small degree of pleasure meant as much to us who had served under him as it was for himself.  Of course, Rae never stopped talking about how wonderful it was for her to have seen just a little bit of what we do in the aircraft albeit from a pilot’s perspective and by the time we had arrived back home in King’s Lynn my ears were well and truly bent.  She will have to travel with me down the back next time and see where the real work is done!!

Despite the occasional heavy downpour of rain it had been a wonderful weekend and spirits were never dampened.  Our thanks must go to Charles Brimson for allowing us the privilege to operate the MaPS Vulcan and to all of his team of volunteers who with great teamwork and dedication to their aircraft ensure that whole event runs on rails.  Our thanks, too, go to David Rowlands for his superb commentary.  It would be remiss of me not to mention that this event is the success it is due in no small part to the sponsorship given by those who kindly donate their hard-earned cash.  I shan’t embarrass them by naming them but they know who they are.  We aircrew look forward to operating XM655 once again either for our pre-season training for next year’s display season or at the 2013 Wings and Wheels Open Day.

That’s about it for this blog.  Hopefully my next missive will be back to the events of XH558.  As you all know our next planned display will be at RAF Fairford and the Royal International Air Tattoo and hopefully I shall be writing about XH558’s participation in that.  Thank you once again for taking the time to read this. Keep the faith!!

Happy landings,

Barry Masefield

©Barry Masefield

]]> (Clive Hanley Photography) AEO barry masefield vulcan wellesbourne xm655 Thu, 28 Jun 2012 10:35:38 GMT
John Sergeant blunders again John Sergeant was a good political journalist and easily recognisable by all of the Westminster crowd. However since his retirement he's made a humiliating fool of himself in "Strictly Come Dancing" - we now know he cannot dance to save his life, stumbled through presenting "Have I got news for you" and now in his latest show he clearly demonstrates that he is NOT a photographer.

I was looking forward to following the series called "BRITAINS FIRST PHOTO ALBUM" on BBC2 in hi-definition as he traces the locations used by Francis Frith, the Victorian photographer who quickly realised that there was money to be made by touring the UK and snapping anything, everything and everybody. I have a couple of books of his photos in my collection. The hype over this series was that John would trace the location of selected shots and take modern equivalents. His first location in the first episode was at the Chelsea Hospital, home of The Chelsea Pensioners. The Frith shot has a line of a dozen old soldiers lined up in the courtyard with the statue of Charles II totally obscured by oak tree branches for what was described as Oak Apple Day 1898.

However John's version of the photo was taken without the adornment of oak tree branches revealing a stunning gold statue. BUT what did he do? He cenntred his photo on the pensioners and chopped the statue in half. His image looked totally wrong and unbalanced. I can't understand why he thought it was good. I gave up watching after that.

]]> (Clive Hanley Photography) John Sergeant Wed, 14 Mar 2012 11:31:58 GMT
Caught in the act I've since established that the name of said Laxey cafe is "The Corn Mill Tea Room & Restaurant" - whatever it's called it's certainly worthy of a visit. Somewhat more comfortable and customer orientated than "Browns" at t'other end of the Mines Road.  

Next photo opportunity pour moi was a visit to Douglas railway station to record for posterity the preparations for, and departure of the Old Time Music Hall special to Port Erin. However I'd arrived at Douglas with 4 minutes to spare before the final service train of the day was due to arrive in the station. I always try and capture something new in my photos so decided to sneak into the adjacent bus depot. I knew that the pedestrian gate was always open between the bus depot and the train depot so a shot from the gateway was my destination. I casually but purposefully walked towards the gate but stopped in my tracks when I heard the dreaded "can I help you?". Damn it I'd been caught. I turned to find an official from the bus company addressing me. I explained that I was hoping to capture a shot at the gate of the next arrival but he insisted I go and ask at "The Inspectors Office" and pointed towards the door. I walked in and found two Inspectors sitting at their desks. I explained what I was trying to do and fully expected the bums rush ie shown the door BUT what a pleasnt surprise - the lady Inspector said "OK but you need to wear a hi-viz jacket." I explained all mine were in the laundry but she reached towards the coat rack and handed me one of their own. What a nice lady!!! I walked over to assess the location proudly wearing my hi-viz only to find that the view was far worse than my expectations. I was screwed. I couldn't leggit back to the platform as I had the hi-viz to hand back, and then I heard and saw the approaching train - IT WAS BACKWARDS so I gritted my teeth and took my shot. Oh well you win some you lose some.  I returned the jacket and politely thanked my new found friends and walked briskly back to the platform to find the loco was already propelling the ecs (empty coaching stock) out towards the carriage shed.

Scheduled departure time for the special was 6pm so with my trusty Nikon snapper in my napsack I was able to capture some atmosphere as it departed into the darkness - AND rain! Yes the good weather was disappearing fast as the sun set in the west and care was required to avoid pointing the camera towards the drizzle that was falling from the increasingly cloud filled sky.

An excellent evening meal was enjoyed at another new venue for us on the Douglas Quayside - "14North" - strange name but excellent reports on TripAdvisor . They didn't let us down.

Sunday morning and as I forced my eyelids open I initially struggled to comprehend what the shiny thing was I could see through the bedroom curtains. The rains of Saturday evening had blown away and amazingly it was all sun, blue sky and white fluffy couds again. HE was on my side today for sure. I enjoyed a hearty breakfast of scallops and bacon on toast - It has to be done when visiting this beautiful island - and I was out to Douglas again to capture a few more sunny photos of the Victorian steam trains. What a bonus!

I was getting increasingly anxious as I waited for loco no 4 "Loch" to back down from the service point outside Douglas shed. There's one thing Manx people do well is chat and I could see the crew chatting with shed staff. Don't they realise passengers want to see the steam locomotive BEFORE they set off on their journey. If hooking on is all done last minute the crew aren't really entering into the spirit of a tourist attraction. Passengers would like to talk to the driver. Its all part of the experience. Anyway as soon as I took my Douglas station shots it was a case of jumping back into the car to drive off to my 1st photo location - the coastal road near Keristal. What a wonderful place this is, superb coastal views, an empty road, except for occasional learner drivers!! and sunshine.

Then once it had passed the chase was on, I jumped into the car, and headed off at a brisk pace to try and safely reach the next chosen location. In view of the fact that the train was stopping at Port Soderick I probably had plenty of time if the truth be known but one of those pesky learner drivers certainly raised my blood pressure. A huge thought bubble was clearly visible for miles- "Don't they realise I have a train to catch?"

Santon was my next photo location and what a picturesque place it is set in the middle of stunning countryside - sadly with no potential passengers and in fact not a soul in sight. It's a request stop so I just hoped that my antics as the train approached wasn't thought of as waving the train for it to halt. Fortunately the driver's slow approach soon turned to a steamy departure as he opened the regulator. Onwards..... next photo location I'd chosen was Ballabeg. -----to be continued ------


]]> (Clive Hanley Photography) 14North Ballabeg Douglas Santon Fri, 09 Mar 2012 15:12:07 GMT
Another visit to The Windy City (erm Island) With a weather forecast of the usual howling gales and raining cats and dogs ringing in my ears the plane - a dreadful vibrating propeller thingy - set out from Brum airport in the pouring rain last Saturday. I fully expected that weather to stay with me all weekend. (I'm such a pessimist) but glory be - once we'd climbed through the grey clouds to 19,000ft sunshine was with us all the way. On the gradual descent I was able to see down to the odd coaster or fishing boat suggesting our plane had actually flown OVER the worst of it. Could this be possible? Could Shefali Oza (BBC Midland TV weather lady) have got it wrong... Well no, as a matter of fact the Island was in the calm centre of bad weather.

Out with the snap camera then and after collecting a hire car at Ronaldsway it was down the road to Castletown station for the first two train passes of the day. I was seeing RED all day though as both No 4 & No 12 were gleaming in their shiny clean paintwork.

A visit was then made to Peel for an excellent hot kipper bap on the breakwater and we were off to Laxey. After a stroll along the prom I walked up to Lady Evelyn (perhaps only the locals know who she is) and ventured over to the Laxey Mines Railway shed to see the team preparing Ant & Bee. What a friendly bunch they were and they even posed for a photo! I remembered to say "Smile" this time. Photos still to be worked on. Then a quick visit to see Lady Isabella and a first - but certainly not the last - visit to a new bistro/cafe adjacent to the car park near the big wheel. ----to be continued-----


]]> (Clive Hanley Photography) laxey peel ronaldsway Fri, 09 Mar 2012 09:59:33 GMT
Testing the new Blog Just testing the new Zenfolio BLOG feature.

]]> (Clive Hanley Photography) Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:59:33 GMT