By Paul McNulty
HAAF aircraft and personnel deployed north to Leicester on Friday 2nd September to participate in the Victory Show, billed as the largest WW2 re-enactment event in the UK. Given our motto: ‘Let their glory not fade’ it was felt appropriate that we should represent the contribution made by the Glider Pilot Regiment and Air Observation Post Squadrons in the major campaigns of WW2 and by Army Aviation in subsequent conflicts.
The event was based around a farm airstrip and featured historic combat, transport, maritime and liaison aircraft as well as the mixed fixed wing and rotary fleet of the Historic Flight. Approaching from the south at 3000 feet, the tented encampment of armour, guns and militaria marked our destination and we landed on the rough grass strip and taxied to our parking area, receiving a warm welcome from the spectators.
In addition to commemorating the distinguished service of the past, the Historic Flight’s ethos is to nurture the next generation of aviation practitioners by using our knowledge, experience and aircraft to demonstrate to youngsters the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the air domain.
We were delighted, therefore, to welcome several hundred children from primary schools around Leicester. The children were able sit in the aircraft, try on equipment and quiz the pilots and ground crew on “how fast?“, “how high?” and “how far?” the aircraft fly, the purpose of the flight instruments, and “what’s it like to fly?“. Several said the visit was the “coolest thing” they’d ever done.
The HAAF’s newest volunteer, serving AAC soldier Air Trooper James M, proved invaluable in maintaining an orderly flow of excited and noisy children through the aircraft cabin; his smart appearance, enthusiasm and authority may perhaps have inspired some of these children to one day follow him into the AAC.
Our flying display sequence had to be modified to fit the unusual ‘banana’ shaped concave display line, and for a 2-ship display (the Beaver and Scout having departed to other engagements). The Auster and Sioux conducted a formation take-off, with the Sioux breaking left at 250ft to commence the display, while the Auster manoeuvred to remain within the confined display area.
An adverse weather forecast resulted in the decision to depart ‘off-slot’ and turn south after completing the display. With insufficient fuel to recover to Hampshire, a refuel stop was arranged at a busy Oxfordshire airfield late on Saturday afternoon, before both aircraft returned home safely at 7pm to complete a busy but rewarding two days promoting Army Aviation.