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Report from Dunsfold 2018

by Ian Homer. Posted to category: General

by the XH558 Events Team

Bob Jackson reports:

And  so  it  was  on  Friday  24th August that  the  Event  Unit  rolled  out  of  Stratford  heading  south  for  Dunsfold Aerodrome,  home  of  the  BBC  Top  Gear  Test  Track  and  the annual “Wings  &  Wheels”  Event.

Following  a  snappy  lunch,  set-up  commenced  in  the  usual  leisurely  manner  since  there  was  the  periodic Aeroplane  arriving  or  giving  an  impromptu  flypast.  This  year  we  were  not  in  the  location  that  has  been our  home  for  some  years  but  further  into  the  Wings  Zone  of  the  arena. This actually  benefitted  us  as being  on  the  central  aisle,  visitors  came  from  both  sides.  Furthermore,  we were  very  near  an entrance/exit. 

Definitely  a  four  flag  location  which  we  have  not  done  for  a  long  time. With set-up  nearly complete,  the  heavens  opened,  fortunately  rain  screens  were  up  so  nothing  lost,  just  a  wet team!

Saturday  morning  we woke  to  blue  skies  and  hardly  a  cloud;  a  hearty  breakfast  set  us  up for the  day ahead.  At  Wings  &  Wheels  the  wheels  come  first,  so  with  crowds  gathering  the  traditional  parade  of military  vehicles  took  place  and  opened  proceedings.  Soon  after, historic  and  modern  cars  used the main  runway  as  a  demonstration  track;  from  3.4  litre  Le  Mans  Bentley  to  McLaren  MP4-12C,  with Aston  Martins,  Jaguars,  Porsches  and  others  thrown  into  the  mix.  Then some hardy  souls  on  Motor Bikes till suddenly  it  was  Airshow  time.

With no fast RAF jets, other than the Red Arrows, due following the withdrawal of the Typhoon it was left to private jets to fulfil the role of noise makers, so the Vampire pair, Mig 15 and the Strikemaster to wake the neighbours and set the scene for the Red Arrows. That is not to say that the rest of the displays were boring, anything but. With the BBMF trio, B-17 of Sally B, Bronco, Chinook, Turbulent Display Team, The Blades and even Brendan O’Brien now flying OTTO - a Schweizer 300C helicopter doing “chopperbatics” - quite amazing

All too soon the day drew to a close and it was time to close up shop, given the weather forecast major weather proofing took place so as to safe ourselves time on Sunday morning. So it was off for a meal and well-earned sleep.

Sunday morning started with bright skies, but with the news that the flying programme had been brought forward by an hour to try to avoid the poor weather forecast we knew we were in for a rough day. We were aware that some organisations had packed up on Saturday and left, hardy, or was that brave, souls had stayed on. At 11.00, nearly three hours early, the rain started and it got heavier and heavier.

We got Brendan O’Brien’s Flying Circus, the Chinook and Richard Goodwin in his modified Pitts S2S (more spectacular than on Saturday because it was raining!). The Strikemaster took off and vanished into the low cloud - homeward bound. The Car demonstrations were called off as the runway was unsafe for high speed, or as one visitor to the stand said - “any speed” of car.

So with a heavy heart the organisers abandoned the event at 13.00 hours, we carried on trading as the small crowd wound their wet way home. Packing up was entertaining and we can vouch for the quality of our  XH558 Waterproof Regatta Jacket ~ wet outside dry inside which is more than could be said for boots and trousers.

So it was a slightly damp team that returned the unit to Stratford, end of story ……. Not quite,  the following day wet gazebos, flags and sundry items were offloaded and spread around the stores to dry out.

Worth the effort and the conditions ………………… absolutely!


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