Great Vintage Flying Weekend - G-VFWE!
Gibbons was there.
Now into its fifth year, the Great Vintage Flying Weekend was held at the Science Museum
Airfield at Wroughton, Wiltshire over the weekend of 12/13 May 2001 in glorious weather
conditions. Previous events have been held at Old Sarum, White Waltham, Kemble and
Thruxton with the 2001 event promising to be the largest yet.
The airfield opened at 0800 on both Saturday and Sunday morning with Saturday proving to
be the more popular with visiting pilots. The threat of thunderstorms and rain on the
Sunday certainly proved to act as a deterrent with approximately 150 aircraft present
opposed to approximately 275 on the Saturday. In addition to the many gems to be found on
the airfield the Science Museum opened the doors to the Transport Collection housed in the
hangars. Treasures within include Boeing 247 N18E, DC-3 EI-AYO and L-749 Constellation
N7777G. The British aviation scene is well represented by ex-Dan Air Comet 4B G-APYD, ex
British Airways Trident 3B G-AWZM, De Havilland Dragon G-ACIT and Dragon Rapide G-ALXT.
the event being a 'Fly In' and not an air display there was no flying to be seen apart
from the arrival and departure of the participating aircraft. These aircraft landed on
either the main runway or a parallel grass strip and were directed to their parking spots
dependent on their 'classification'. At this point the unconventional arrival of an
unidentified Beagle Pup deserves a mention. The aircraft suffered a problem on approach to
the airfield and was put down in a field near to Wroughton. Thankfully there were no
casualties and following a confirmatory check of the aircraft fuel was taken on and the
aircraft flown from the field to Wroughton, much to the amusement of the local farmer and
return to the arriving aircraft, those coming under the Prestige or Classic headings were
parked at the runway 22 end of the airfield whilst all others were directed to the
opposite end. In most cases the aircraft taxied parallel to the crowd line to provide an
opportunity for an active aircraft close up photograph (pretty impressive with the Dove,
Beech 18 and Percival Pembroke)! The larger aircraft, DH Heron and the DC-3 (N47FK) on
Sunday were kept on the tarmac at the runway 22 end of the airfield.
Notably, a small number of aircraft had arrived at Wroughton before the weekend's
activities began. Amongst these were Belgian Tipsy Nipper OO-VAG and one of only two
Chrislea Super Aces flying in the country. This rare machine was to be joined later in the
day by the other example and the sight of G-AKUW and G-AKVF side by side on the Wroughton
grass was certainly appreciated by the aficionados visiting over the weekend.
Aircraft types to be seen in quantity were various mark of Austers (15), Piper Cubs (13),
Tiger Moths (6), Chipmunks (9), Beagle Pups (16) together with a
gaggle of older taildragger Cessna 140/195 models and Luscombes. Other examples included a
pair of Beech Staggerwings, a Waco YKS.7, DH Heron in Jersey Airlines markings and a pair
of DH Doves. Period paint schemes were much in evidence as were representative military
markings, the accompanying photographs illustrate some of these.
One aspect worthy of note here is that whilst the likes of the Austers etc. mentioned
above tend to steal the limelight at these events, consider the rest. A great deal of the
attending Cessna 172s, Cherokees, Jodels etc. are now approaching their 35th birthdays! In
the not too distant future they to will be competing for space in the prestige park!
The aircraft parking area was made available for public inspection from 1230 to 1430
providing much appreciated access and photographic opportunities to the aircraft for the
general public. Additionally this provided the opportunity for the aircraft pilots and
owners to chat freely about any aspect of their aircraft that caught the public interest.
Participating aircraft were also eligible to compete for the many prizes up for grabs over
the weekend, categories being The Ranald Porteous Memorial Trophy courtesy of the
International Auster Club, Best Auster, Best Beagle, Best De Havilland, Best DH (Canada),
Best Miles, Best Percival, Best Of The Rest, Best Non-British, Oldest Visitor (Aircraft)
and Most Meritorious Flight Award. Unfortunately I am unable to provide details of the
winning aircraft/owners. None other than former test pilot Neville Duke presented notably
these prizes on the Sunday.
Departure time again provided many photographic opportunities and also the odd moment of
drama. Miles Messenger G-AKBO nearly succumbed to a ground loop when departing from the
grass runway on Sunday evening. Having caught this one he tried again from the tarmac only
to suffer the same fate ending up in the long grass adjacent to the runway. With both
scares survived successfully the pilot took the opportunity to catch his thoughts, calm
the nerves and refuel before achieving a trouble free departure an hour or so later - one
to talk about when safely back home!
So there you have it, once again a pleasant, relaxing event without the hustle
bustle and noise of your heavy metal event. Lots to see for your classic aviation
enthusiast with opportunities to talk freely to people from all walks of life that are
bitten by the aviation bug!
Roll on G-VFWE '02!