by Paul Stanton
Hot on the heels of a successful Middle Wallop ‘Wings & Wheels’ event the previous day, the Sioux and Scout departed early Sunday morning for Capel Military Show. Capel, for those who aren’t aware is close to Gatwick airport and inside their Control Zone which required a bit more liaison than would otherwise have been necessary. That all went well and having got our entry approved in principle, the Sioux departed Wallop a few minutes before the Scout for the transit. A change to our normal operating from Delta dispersal, we had to depart from the Apache dispersal as Wings & Wheels had not been fully cleaned up. However, the Scout quickly caught up with the Sioux (a fairly normal occurrence 😊), so we went the remainder of the outbound trip as a pair.
The weather was warm and got hotter as the day progressed. Our arrival went as planned, with a steeper than normal approach due to wires around the LS, plus horses in fields close by. We joined a Chinook, an Alouette 2 plus a brace of Gazelles in the field already. Once positioned and shut down, we rolled into our now standard routine for roping the tail sections of both aircraft (to stop prying fingers) and the spectators were allowed to come and see us. It was a steady day of interest for both our helicopters.
The show was a brilliant display of old and not-so-old military equipment, and at one of the stands I was please that I still knew my way around a Sterling Sub-Machine gun and a Browning 9mm. Although I fired the Lee Enfield .303 as a cadet, I left that one alone!
Organisation was exceptional with volunteers catering etc., and we were well looked after. I have no idea of the numbers that attended the event but we were seldom left alone and had the normal variety of folk who arrived with stories to tell and questions to ask.
Eventually we finished the day and, having packed up and loaded the stores, we departed shortly after 1600 local. Sioux leading, me second, plus a pair of Gazelles in the rear who decided that following us out (not in formation) would be neat and convenient. As we cleared the Gatwick airspace, the Scout left the Sioux behind and powered onwards to Wallop to get things prepared to ground move the aircraft back to Hanger 3 (our home).
Very tired by this stage after a day in the sun and engaging with people all day, but well worth it. Interesting for readers to note that when we get home and shut down, that’s not the end of the day. We then have to put the aircraft to bed properly, complete post flight paperwork, debrief the various stages of the day (including how the ground engagement went, did we have the right kit, etc.) to ensure that lessons are learnt for next time. We also like to leave the hanger tidy for the next Flight staff to use it 😊.
Our thanks to Danny, Mark and Brian for helping Rich and myself on the day, and for doing the bulk of the spectator management…!! Also to Paul McN and Bob for seeing us out and back.