Bomber Day ’08

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18th October 2008

Saturday the 18th October was scheduled for this year’s navigation competition fly-out ‘Bomber Day 2008’. Following on from last year’s highly successful and very enjoyable day, the idea is a back to basics navigation exercise with a slightly competitive edge. Various ‘targets’ which had been previously photographed were emailed to the competing crews, and then on the day, the actual locations are revealed. The competitors then just had 30 minutes to plot their routes and declare a ‘time over target’ to the Judges. When reaching the ‘target’ they take three timed digital photos for positive identification and the second picture time is used to access accuracy. Points are awarded on how close to the declared time over target the aircraft actually is. i.e. the exact time to within one minute scores max 10 points etc. GPS’s were not permitted and all plotting was done the old fashioned way with headings, wind drift calculations, whizz wheels, plogs and lines on maps.


Due to the very high standard and almost perfect scores obtained in last year competition, the ‘targets’ were be slightly harder to find and had longer legs between them. The competing crews, Marek Palczewski on his first fly out with friend Mark were in KK. Malcolm Jarvis and Kieran Hardiman were crewing FG. FC had Julian Mitchell, Barrie North and rear gunner Alex Kenning. Helen Saunders also on her first fly out was teamed with Nick Allum in MM, and FA had Tony Norman and Simon Plimblett. The Judges were Paul Bazire and David Rickwood in the Archer VB.

Amazingly for a fly out this year, the weather was almost perfect. Light winds with a brilliant blue sky above us and flecks of high scattered fluffy cumulus with unlimited visibility. With the targets revealed at the briefing, the crews then started their plotting. Out came the charts and rulers, pens and whizz wheels. Preparing for our ‘missions’, all we needed to set the wartime like scene was a black Labrador sitting outside the hut. And this time we had one!

With their plotting done and the times declared, the crews began to walk out to their aircraft with the sad eyed ‘N****r’ watching them go. But unlike the story from ‘The Dambusters’, we’re pretty sure our new four-legged friend made it home at the end of the day.


Engines roared into life and with a five minute gap to ensure separation over the ‘targets’ the aircraft taxied out and began to climb out, turn right and depart over the tower who passed them their start time. VB was up to ensure fair play and no unnecessary circling of the targets.

The mornings first target was a ex-RAF Phantom at the Bomb Disposal HQ just north of Chatham, then a water tower north of Colchester and finally a church in the village of Walpole in Suffolk. Lunch had been pre-booked and was to be taken at Seething just south of Norwich. The route up had absolutely perfect flying conditions with the air crystal clear, if only we could have more days like this.

Seething was surprisingly busy due to the weather, with landing on runway 24. The North Weald Flying Group’s aircraft made an impressive line on the narrow taxiway of this old American 448th Bomb Group B24 base or Station 146 as it was then known. The very reasonable £5 landing donations were paid with lunch taken in the very busy and pleasant clubhouse which has an attached conservatory with a little plaque showing it had been opened by Wing Commander Ken Wallis of Autogyro fame. Quite fittingly we watched as a bright red two seat autogyro took to the air after an impossibly short take-off run. Looked a bit chilly in there though. Seething’s hangers also have ingenious turntable systems allowing a number of aircraft to be parked in the hanger which can then simply be rotated to allow them to be pulled out…..brilliant.


There were a two further targets in the afternoon. The castle at Sible Hedingham close to the Stansted zone and a building near Grays. Once again a perfect afternoon’s flying with all the aircraft safely recovering to North Weald to have their photos examined and scores counted.

Once again an excellent effort by all the crews concerned and some very good and accurate flying which resulted in some very close scores. The title of ‘Nav Crew of the Year’ goes to Tony Norman and Simon Plimblett in FA who pipped MM’s crew by one point having scored an excellent 46 out of a possible 50 points. Well done to them

As usual a big thanks to all those who took part in the competition which is a bit a fun but allows the skills that we sometimes let wane to be refreshed. Another one next year I think.

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North Weald Flying Group operate out of the Squadron at North Weald Airfield.

The airfield is 10 miles south of Stansted and can be seen from the M11. Follow signs from the A414 and on entrance to the field, follow the perimeter track all the way around the field until you arrive at the distinctive Squadron building.

phone: 01992522090