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Valley's photocall  22 September

Timed to co-incide with the disbandment of 74(R) Squadron, it seemed a good idea at the time...invite as many Tiger units as possible, combined with flypasts for the disbandment ceremony, and you've got the recipe for a great day out. Only thing you will have to cross your fingers for is the weather.

Well, on the day the weather was good, if a little breezy. So what went wrong? For a start, most of the invited participants failed to turn up. The list fell apart as the day wore on, much to the chagrin of the co-organisers, Valley Aviation Society. Secondly, for some incomprehensible reason, the morning was spent on the far side of the airfield, behind 22 Squadron's dispersal, where the only entertainment was a couple of SARTU's Griffins on practice sorties. A small coned off area didn't even provide a view to see the 74 Squadron disbandment parade; this was the other side of the buildings! The runways must have been at least half a mile away. It had been the idea that this location would provide a good view of the airfield attacks - only problem is, there was only one (by a pair of Jaguars) all day!

What few aircraft had arrived by noon were parked on the visitor's pan, near the main gate. As everyone was parked on the far side of the airfield, it necessitated buses to get everyone back across - using a ticket system, it was some time before everyone made it, by which time the glorious morning sun had turned to haze. Whoever was responsible for this farce should take note that there were a lot of disgruntled punters, who could accept cancellations in the list, but not quite why they were being shepherded about as they were, on buses that shouldn't have been necessary.

So, missing were the Australian and Canadian Hawks from Warton, the...hang on, it's easier to say what actually made it; two Mirage 2000s from EC12, two German Tornados, two F16Bs from Belgium, a Mirage 2000C and 'D from EC330, Tornado F3 ZE292/AZ, Sea Harrier, Hunter, two Jet Provosts and um...well, that's about it really. Shame - good intentions, but the proverbial knees-up in a brewery may be more achievable next time...

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