07 September, 2013

Avro Vulcan XH558 Over The Gate

Well I've been out soaring at "The Gate" again and just like last time found there was more than just models in the sky. This time the big bird was none other than XH558 and what a sight it was.

The weather on Saturday 31st August was quite breezy and gusty when I arrived about 2pm so that was pleasing! I wasn't out to do anything too adventurous, just get lots of flying in and practice landings so I chose to just take the SAS Fusion. I accepted the offer of a launch from Keith Rathbone for the first flight which passed without incident and I launched all the following flights myself; I'm not sure how many, 4 I think. Considering each flight lasted at least 20 minutes that's a fair bit of flying so the afternoon soon progressed.

Then about 1615 hrs there was was the unmistakable sight and sound of the vulcan flying  fairly close to us and east to west. Being high up in the peaks we were able to watch it disappearing into the distance for some time, in the general direction of North Wales. It was then that I remembered two things, Rhyl airshow was on the same day and my camera was in my car parked a short distance down the road.

There was some discussion as to whether or not it was likely to come back our way but no-one really knew and we carried on flying. By this time the wind had dropped a little but the lift had improved significantly. The air was smooth and I was able to take the Fusion up as high as was visibly safe. Whilst engaged in this activity some other flyers arrived with chevron wings to engage in some combat with each other. I accidentally scored a hit on one of them, well it might have been an accident :o) and that made me a target , great fun.

Well what a good day it had been, lots of great model flying and seeing the Vulcan fly past. The only thing could improve the day would be to see it again with my camera at the ready but it was time to pack up. 

So at the back of the car with everything packed away in the boot I looked longingly in the general direction of North Wales and there in the distance was a plume of grey smoke, growing longer and longer. I wasn't going to miss it this time! I'd got a number of lenses with me including a 300mm maximum zoom job (that's equivelant to 600mm for a 35mm SLR) but I went for 40-150mm zoom as that would be easier to hand hold in the breeze. Having grabbed the camera I looked again, it was coming almost straight for us. Fantastic. Did I get the photos I wanted? No, never satisfied some people! I did get some not too bad ones though.