Better late than never?

You know how it is: you start a new blog, intend to keep something of it going and then circumstances change and it all goes a bit awry. Well, that happened.  Here’s a brief summary of life over the past 8 months.

Firstly, I didn’t do anywhere near enough work in Semester 1, and the blog was not the only thing to suffer.  I’m catching up but this week, having been Freshers’ Week, I’m nowhere near target either, so procrastinating here probably isn’t helping greatly.

Secondly, it all kicked off at work: we had a sudden closedown of the trial I work on. That meant having to fit 2yrs worth of work into practically 3 months. My study work didn’t suffer much but everything else did.

Finally, there has been a lot of things to do with organising and administering RPGSoc and related outfits to be done.

Of course, that wasn’t the half of it: what else has been going on?

RPGSoc won the National Student Roleplaying and Wargaming Championships in Manchester: I’m the current Champion of D&D 5th Edition and Large Model Painting.  I have been playing 5th Edition on Thursday nights still: our gaming group has changed with the change of storyline, and it’s not as good anymore (the group slightly, the storyline mostly), but it’s still brilliant 😀

I’ve been to no airshows since the loss from the air of Vulcan XH558, but I did go to both Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets open days with my friend from Essex who’s recently moved to the area and I also went to Newark Air Museum’s Fleet & Foreign Open Cockpits thing (although only for the Foreign-y bit), as well as City of Norwich Aviation Museum while I was visiting Emilie and the East Midlands Airport Aeropark with my Mum.  I also visited the Avro Heritage Museum last December with Matt.  So that’s four new Vulcans on the ‘visited’ list 🙂

We went abroad to Austria for the first time in ages and I remembered how much I miss Graz.  Some friends moved back to Nottingham and it’s like the family came home.

My Masters has really kicked off: I’ve been to loads of conferences as a participant so I’ve travelled well!  I’ve also met lots of very interesting and lovely people.  My supervisor thinks my work is very good (it has been described as ‘excellent’!) so it can’t all be that bad.

Let’s not leave it another eight months, eh?  Well, I’ll try my best.

It’s Not All Work…

I came to Moscow to do some research for my Masters, but let’s face it, going to Aria’s 30th Anniversary concert was never purely research.  Also, the chance to do bits of Moscow I always wanted to see, and in winter too.  Coming on my own meant I was free to do what I wanted so I visited the Cosmonauts Museum (at least partly to contrast it with the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum London) and the Central Museum of the VVS (the Russian equivalent of IWM Duxford).  I didn’t take any pictures in the Cosmonauts Museum: it would have cost me 230rub to do so, and when I knew I was going to buy the 400rub guidebook it didn’t seem worth it!  I probably couldn’t do most of it justice.  I’ll do a post about it later though, along with the other bits of Moscow I did and didn’t see.

This post is about the Air Museum, located about an hour-and-a-half’s train ride outside the city at a little place called Monino.  Monino used to be a base until the late 50s when the museum opened: I think it was replaced by the base now at Chkalovskiy, which is a base for some very large and loud aircraft (I can see/hear why they’re banned from most European airports, like the VC10 was!).  It’s not easy to get to, it’s a long walk up what yesterday were icy roads, but it is signposted in strategic places, and as long as you can read Russian (even if you don’t know what the words mean) it’s pretty straightforward.

I’m still not entirely sure what the opening times are: the two websites (one for the equivalent of the IWM ‘general’ site, one for the VVS part) had different times, so did the signs up around the museum.  It’s safe to say if you aim to arrive about 10am, you should be OK.  The lady on the desk was curt (normal for Russia) but the other ladies (it’s usually always ladies) were very accommodating: the lady in the first room responded to my question in English and the lady in the shop was very chatty (in Russian, but she was patient and friendly, like you’d expect in England, an not common but certainly not unheard of in Russia).  She was lamenting the lack of public transport to the museum and the lack of street lighting on the roads.  She also told me that on festival days there are cockpits open, so something to bear in mind when I come back.  The museum itself is laid out in a room, two hangers and the field.  There was a lot of walking outside in the snow!

DSC_0839

As this MiG-29 shows, there’d been quite some snow…!

Inside the first room was the history of flying in Russia, which was very interesting and I think fairly understandable even for those without Russian.  It was the only room with very little English.  It contained engines, models and uniforms, as well as a Polikarpov and something called a Letalin: the first (working) human-powered flying machine in Russia.

DSC_0766

Models and motors

DSC_0767

Il-16

DSC_0768

Letalin ornithopter

DSC_0769

Some weird Edwardian-ish thing…

The first hanger contained the WW2 (Great Patriotic War) aircraft of Russia: they range from sleek inline and radial ‘tactical fighters’ through armoured inline ‘strike’ (ground attack) aircraft (Il-2 Sturmovik) to radial beasts designed for reconnaissance and light night-time bombing.  The night-bombers represented in the museum were from a female squadron, which was very interesting.  Two of the aircraft in the room were classified monuments: others had been produced in their factories years after original production stopped (the joys of the Soviet system), others restored from parts of a crashed aircraft.

DSC_0779

Il-2 Sturmovik

DSC_0783

Po-2 night-bomber with female pilots exhibition

DSC_0788

“Death to the German Occupiers!” MiG-3

DSC_0791

National monument La-7

DSC_0793

Yak-9u

The final hanger, an ancient construction of steel with wooden slatted walls (through which birds entered) contained some of the ‘unique’ exhibits: Il’ya Muromets, a massive four-engined bomber from WW1; the ANT-25 long-range record-breaker; a number of small, experimental aircraft and ‘firsts’.

DSC_0982

Bi-1

DSC_0984

One of many Buran test models

DSC_0986

Russian ‘flying bedstead’

DSC_0988

No idea beyond the obvious

DSC_0989

ANT-25

DSC_0993

Il’ia Muromets

DSC_0998

Volga capsule for a balloon (note bird poo!)

And, finally, there was the massive expanse of outside.  And, man, was some of it massive!

DSC_0797

Apparently the largest helicopter in the world, Mi-12

DSC_0833

“Concordski”, aka Tu-144

DSC_0841

Tu-22M (not merely a development of the Tu-22, below)

DSC_0845

Il-76, maybe, having just taken off from Chkalovskiy

DSC_0849

Tu-22M backside

DSC_0856

MiG-25 backside: the size is almost Viggen-like!

DSC_0864

Miasishchev M-17 high-altitude experiment

DSC_0866

Il-76

DSC_0871

An-22

DSC_0921

A Bear’s backside (Tu-95)

DSC_0963

Back of the T-4/Su-100

DSC_0012

Front of the T-4/Su-100

DSC_0018

The very shiny T-4/Su-100

DSC_0033

Miasishchev 3M, the first intercontinental Soviet nuclear bomber, according to the info-board. Like the V-force, saw some modification and long service

And not just massive: some of it was purely mental:

DSC_0861

Beriev Be-12 boatplane (next to a MiG-31?): crazy-looking

DSC_0883

Remains of an Airacobra; for restoration!

DSC_0907

Be-12 again

DSC_0913

M-141 UAV

DSC_0916

EPOS spaceplane

DSC_0919

MiG testbed “Ye-166” (actually Ye-152M)

DSC_0939

Yak-36 technology demonstrator (Russian P.1107)

DSC_0956

Yes, that is a helicopter-crane…! Mi-10

DSC_0005

After some research, I believe this is a PZL M-15 Belphegor. It’s hidden round the side of one of the hangars but is pretty mental: biplane, twin-boom tail, jet engine…!

DSC_0006

Unknown and semi-hidden, but someone does have a sense of humour!

DSC_0019

M-50: what makes someone think that putting the engines at the end of the wings is a good idea?!

DSC_0026

And also pretty massive…

But that leaves so much else: all the ‘apparently normal’ stuff.  But nothing’s REALLY normal when it comes to Russian aircraft…

DSC_0798

Tu-16 (with my Vulcan to the Sky bug)

DSC_0803

Su-10 (Su-27 prototype)

DSC_0805

Su-27 probably

DSC_0806

Su-24

DSC_0813

Su-17?

DSC_0818

Su-22?

DSC_0823

A DC-3! Actually a licence-built version, the Lisunov Li-2.  There was also a B-25 but I appear to have forgotten to include that photo here…

DSC_0827

Bear!  An older Tu-95 (see the tail shot above)

DSC_0831

Su-25: that’s a lot of rocket pods…

DSC_0837

MiG-25?

DSC_0838

Mig-29

DSC_0850

Il-62

DSC_0854

Tu-114: note the ludicrously high nose

DSC_0858

MiG-31 under Be-12’s wing

DSC_0860

A newer Tu-95

DSC_0882

Mi-26

DSC_0887

A cute little helicopter with water-booms (unlabelled, possible Mi-2)

DSC_0889

One of two Mi-6s: this one is the battlefield HQ one (the other is a troop transport etc.)

DSC_0891

Cute little Mi-2

DSC_0892

Mi-4(?) firefighter

DSC_0895

Ka-25

DSC_0897

L-29 Dolphin or similar (unlabelled)

DSC_0898

MiG-15

DSC_0901

MiG-15 side view

DSC_0905

MiG-21

DSC_0908

MiG-25

DSC_0912

MiG-27

DSC_0923

Yak-38 V/STOL (Russian Jump Jet, but less capable than the Harrier)

DSC_0933

Yak-38 again

DSC_0941

Yak-25: I found this aircraft very striking

DSC_0943

Yak-27: somewhat arty shot of the sun through the nose

DSC_0945

Section of an Il-76

DSC_0961

Yak-17: supercute little jet fighter

DSC_0969

Mi-24

DSC_0002

Fantastic icicles on this Mi-8’s rotors

DSC_0010

A dinky little Yak (-130?) next to the massive T-4

DSC_0013

Tu-128 prototype

DSC_0021

Tu-16

DSC_0024

Tu-22M, looks much smaller here

DSC_0028

Tu-22M

DSC_0036

Tu-22

Watch this space for further Moscow-related news.  But next time, not actually from Moscow…

A Personal Farewell Tour, Part Four: Three Counties

This may well be the last of the Farewell Tour instalments: it is the last so-far advertised flight and I tend to not be able to suddenly up and go: most of the routes tend to be an hour’s drive or more from Nottingham which also curtails events.  That Farewell Tour weekend, though, those of us in Nottingham were lucky enough to be able to see XH558 on both days, with a little planning.

Saturday I decided I would go to Derby: I reckoned it would be easy enough to get to Rolls-Royce and, with the exceptional Red Arrow bus service from Trent Barton, I wouldn’t need to drive.  Matt even came with me.  We went into Nottingham to do some bits, got some fancy burgers from the food market then got the bus to Derby.

The weather wasn’t amazing: cloudy, cool, a stiff breeze occasionally, but the cloud was high and it was dry.  We eventually found our way to the business park Rolls-Royce occupies (despite Derby’s best attempts to confuse us with signs), passing the usual people sat on vans, standing with cameras, parked on roadsides.  We walked all the way to Rolls-Royce but it wasn’t a good viewpoint so we walked back to outside the Volkswagen garage and waited.  I said to Matt “I don’t need to tell you to look for a big smoky trail by now, do I.”

“You mean like that one?”

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Overhead Derby Pride Park

We have the best comedy timing…!

It was short, but low, slow and fairly noisy.  We discovered later she’d missed East Midlands Airport but she’d still come in at the right time and the right direction.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Overhead Derby Pride Park (Rolls Royce)

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Leaving Derby, smoke trails spirally dissipating in the wind…

Sunday I decided to try Waddington (The Sentry Post Cafe/WAVE) and Newark Air Museum.  Newark had put out loads of publicity out to expect loads of traffic, as there was an Autojumble at the adjacent Showground, and that they’d had no official contact from the Vulcan people so weren’t able to open the Southfield site for parking.

I left later than intended: I was waiting for route time updates to text my Mum the time for North Weald in case they wanted to go.  I got into the wrong lane in Lincoln so tried to go through the Hykehams but got horribly lost.  I missed XH558 at Waddington, but I also knew from Twitter contact that it was ‘stupidly busy’ (thanks, Avro Vulcan XM575!).  I saw her on her way south, thankfully there was no traffic around me and a good pull-up place immediately obvious, so I pulled up and captured this awful shot:

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

She’s in the centre, just above the hedge…

Thankfully, the memory of her flying in the beautiful Lincolnshire sunshine as seen through the windscreen of my car is much clearer!

I got to the mostly-empty WAVE in time to queue for the loo (which is one reason why I didn’t head back to Newark straight away) and get some food (the second reason: support your local aircraft viewing area, especially when there aren’t any aircraft to view because the runway’s being resurfaced!).  I chatted to some people.  The sun was in an awful position for pictures of XM607, so I didn’t bother trying.  I then took a stunning drive across country to Newark Air Museum, after posting on Twitter saying I was going there or Collingham: on the way (oh, the joys of a smartwatch!) I got a reply saying Newark Air Museum recommended itself!  That to me meant they had space to park.

When I arrived at the Air Museum, from the east on Drove Lane, they were directing us on to part of the Showground.  I spoke to a gentleman I thought I recognised (turns out it was Nigel Bean, NAM groundsman and Tweeter) who said many more volunteers had been able to turn up than expected and the Showground had kindly opened this little part of their site for them to use.

Red wheelbarrows in front of Vulcan XM593

Lovely Reds display, plus ‘photoship’ (black)

I walked the long walk (it wasn’t that far: you could walk further at Duxford!) and paid my entry fee, unlike many others who just sat in their cars!  I also gave my change to the pot as Gift Aid was off (to avoid even worse queues).  I had just over an hour to wander about before the Vulcan was due, and as I’ve been twice I know what I’m looking at these days.

Fairey Gannet AEW

Nice to see the Gannet outside

V-Force Memorial Wall, Newark Air Museum

The sun shining through the hangar meant I could get a decent shot of the V-Bomber Force Memorial Wall

Gloster Javelin

The sun also made photographing the Javelin possible

Handley-Page Victor cockpit

Nice to see the Victor cockpit looking resplendent in the sunshine.

Handley-Page Hastings

The Hastings was used as a Vulcan trainer

It was warm: I was wearing leggings under my grey shorts (some of you may now realise who I was) and was proudly showing off my ‘Farewell My Friend’ tshirt (though mine is a kids’ one so cheaper!).  It was a beautiful day.  I grabbed a hot chocolate and a slice of cake from the cafe (dropping £1 of my change into the Project Panini box) and then the tannoy announced Vulcan was running 15mins ahead of schedule.  Cue mass movement across the site!  I set myself up ‘leewards’ of XM594 and waited.  A paraglider and some buzzards made useful targeting opportunities until She arrived.

Crowds around Avro Vulcan XM594 at Newark Air Museum

The ‘Vulcan Effect’ in full force at Newark! And they’ve already got one!

Sun-dog next to Avro Vulcan XM594

There was a pretty sun-dog while I was waiting, though it hasn’t come out too well.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Incoming!

XH558 with XM593

My proximity to XM594 made for some great dual-Vulcan shots

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

The weather was glorious.

XH558 with Blackburn Buccaneer

I was very pleasantly surprised by the circuits

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Wherever she was flying over, I bet they got a good view!

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Even out of the sun, she shone.

XH558 with Avro Shackleton and Handley-Page Hastings at Newark Air Museum

Turning over the other big exhibits, including her Shackleton sister.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Ever impressive.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Straight over the top!

XH558 with XM594

I hope I got some unique pictures, other than what those the other side of XM594 got.

And did she: the massed crowds pointing heralded her arrival as the Smoky Moth glided across the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire countryside and overhead of sunny Winthorpe.  A sudden accelerating roar as she passed ‘594 sped her into a circuit, and she circled the airfield three times before meeting with a photoship for some evening sunshine shots over north-ish Nottinghamshire.

XH558 joining with photoship

You can see her centre-right (follow the smoke trail) and the photoship just right of XM594’s tail in the darker strip of cloud.

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

Heading off for her date

Avro Vulcan B2 XH558

I spent a few minutes in Hangar One, and she was still mooching around the countryside when I came back out

I didn’t cry: I did have a lump in my throat as she came into view, but until Friday 30th October it’s all still yet to come…

Sun halo at Newark Air Museum

A sun halo greeted our exodus 🙂