Bruntingthorpe's September Cold War Jets Open Day, 15 September
Damien Burke visits some old friends
Having wandered around the decaying remains of RAF Binbrook earlier in the year, the hankering to further damage my hearing with a good blast of Lightning jet noise was strong within me by the time Bruntingthorpe's September Cold War Jets Open Day arrived.
Earlier in the year the Lightning Preservation Group had held their own open day but this was to be the only full open day of the year, and it seems the public knew it. Arriving half an hour before the first scheduled run, that well known airshow horror - the queue of traffic - was the first thing to greet me. It wasn't a long one, but sufficient to cause me to miss the first run, which judging by the volume level was a Lightning. Amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I parked and sure enough, there was the mightiest fighter of the 1980s taxiing back after its ear-splitting run.
But not to worry, it'd be running again later on... but first, a look around. Bruntingthorpe was busy - possibly the best turn-out I've ever seen at this event, and not just in terms of the crowd. Already parked up were a Bulldog, a Scout and several spam-cans. Joining them moments later was the Jersey Airlines DH Heron, showing off the family similarities to the DH Comet skulking in the background. The passengers certainly got the 'Classiest way to arrive at Bruntingthorpe' award!
Soon the guttural roar of an air starter could be heard, and so it was time for the 'Brunty dash' - a hundred meter run across from the static aircraft to the crowdline, where the resident Buccaneer was unfolding its wings. Sadly the Bucc was limited to a gentler run, owing to the lack of a qualified pilot - instead her chief engineer, Lee Parker, took the controls at short notice and helped alleviate any disappointment on the speed side by showing off the various systems - arrestor hook, revolving bomb bay door, air brakes and folding wings. From then on, and with unaccustomed speed and efficiency, the taxi runs came thick and fast - Victor, jet-powered drag racers, Hunter (in swish new colour scheme), Comet (sadly the possibility of her flying in civilian hands seem more remote than ever), Iskra (at first not cooperating, refusing to start initially and then belching flame after a wet start), a trio of Jet Provosts (a first for Brunty, it's never been more than a pair previously) and finishing off with the ground shaking roar of one of the LPG's pair of Lightnings.
In between all this action, the usual gaps in proceedings were admirably filled with jet cars (much smoke and flame, and a fair bit of noise) and also Gordon Nichols' fantastic Victor model, which displayed no fewer than three times - earning the loudest and most sustained round of applause I can recall ever hearing at this venue.
Bruntingthorpe really pulled off quite a revival with this open day, and though I'm biased (I maintain the Brunty Events web site), if it's a bit of jet noise and close access to the aircraft you want, this is the place to go. And, of course, it's all for a good cause - keeping the aircraft in running condition.