Howard Heeley/Down to Earth Promotions reviews a couple of events, now regularly held throughout the year at Newark's Air Museum
Fighter Cockpit Days 24 & 25 May
In their fortieth anniversary year the staff and volunteers at the Newark Air Museum laid on two days of special viewing access into the cockpits into a number of historic British, NATO and Warsaw Pact Jet Fighters housed at the museum. Normally most of these cockpits are inaccessible, so it was a rare opportunity to see inside and in some case photograph these cockpits.
On Saturday the weather held out and access was allowed to the following cockpits Meteor NF12, Meteor FR9, Sea Harrier, Sea Hawk, Viggen, Draken, Super Sabre, MiG-27 and the Swift and Phantom cockpit sections. A good turnout by the museum volunteers enabled all the cockpits to be accessible throughout, but during this event people were not able to sit in the majority of the cockpits, with the exception of the Phantom.
The fact that most of the aircraft featured in the event were inside the museum's two display hangars proved to be a major benefit on the Sunday, when despite the steady rain from mid-day onwards the visitors were still able to look round in the dry.
Other aircraft that featured throughout the day were the Buccaneer and the Vulcan. The Buccaneer was the centre piece of a demonstration of the typical aircraft pre-flight checks and start-up procedure, which was completed with a costumed pilot and a commentary from the volunteers. Many visitors also took the chance to climb the crew ladder to sit in the front cockpit. The Vulcan underwent its ground systems run using the Rover APU, which on the Saturday enabled the cavernous bomb bay to be kept open for the Day night Photo Shoot that followed in the evening. Such was the success of the two-day event similar themed days are already being planned for the future.
Almost a year in planning the Newark Air Museum's first Day-Night Photo Shoot was successfully completed to wide acclaim from those people that participated in this exclusive 'out of hours - without fences' event. Drawing on the concept of the Railway Photo Charter, the museum 'borrowed' the idea and working with people from that sector applied it to its diverse aircraft collection and a large number of participants were actually railway enthusiasts.
Immediately after the museum closed museum volunteers started to remove many of the fences around the aircraft. The participants assembled at 17:30 for a safety briefing and a reminder of the etiquette required for ensuring that all participants secured the pictures they desire.
Costumed enactors drawn from amongst the museum volunteers and from 1237 (North Hykeham) Air Training Corps Squadron were given a separate briefing. They were then despatched around the museum site to act as models around the various aircraft. The weather on Saturday evening remained good and a variety of aviation related scenarios were staged around the site and in the hangars.
The two MiG fighters proved to be particular favourites with the photographers and the MiG-23 had special Iraqi and Libyan markings temporarily applied on different sides of the aircraft. As sunset approached the pace of the evening slackened slightly, but this proved merely to be a refreshment break before the frantic action that followed as darkness crept across the site.
High-powered lights were used around the site to illuminate the following museum aircraft: MiG-27, Super Sabre, Mystere, Hastings, Shackleton, Buccaneer, Canberra PR7 and Vulcan. Again there was some use of costumed enactors to model with the aircraft; internal illumination was used on the Shackleton; and the landing lights were operational on the Vulcan.
The museum is fortunate to have a large enough site to make such Day-Night Photo Shoots workable and hopefully they will organise similar events in the future. For those of us who had not participated in this type of event before, the range of images that kept appearing on the screens of the wide array of DSLRs was a joy to behold. We even witnessed the comparatively rare sight of traditional film cameras, albeit in the medium and higher end formats. The evening drew to an end at 23:00 and it was a truly memorable event.
The date of the next Day Night Photo Shoot is Saturday 1 November 2008. The event will formally commence after the museum closes at 16:00, but participants can access the museum from 10:00. The event will again feature themed ground equipment; uniformed personnel; and illuminated aircraft. The aircraft being featured for this first event will include: Vulcan, Shackleton, Canberra PR7 & Buccaneer; with a firework finale. Places will be limited to 30 people. Anyone interested request details via the museum website or telephone 01636 707170.