Bomber Day ’10

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October 17, 2010

Sunday the 17th October was planned as the fourth annual ‘Bomber Day’ group competition. Taking off from High Cross in the Archer ‘VB’ to head over to North Weald to meet the competitors and reveal the target locations it occurred to me that this event has so far never been scuppered by the weather. Today was no exception. Heading past Ware towards Harlow the air was absolutely crystal clear with no cloud and a very light NE breeze. The City spread across the horizon in what can only be called ‘natural high definition’. One of those days that makes VFR flying great and certainly reminds me of the great privilege we have in being able to fly as we do.  The format of Bomber Day is basically that each crew receives several photographs taken from different angles of each of the days five targets. They are not told the actual locations. The three morning targets locations are only revealed that morning with the crews then having a maximum of 30 mins to plot their route and declare the all important time over each ‘target’. It’s all done the old fashioned way with rulers and whizz wheels, groundspeed and wind drift. GPS is not permitted. It’s all back to basics. The ‘targets’ are then photographed with a digital camera with an overlaid time facility. A sliding scale of points are then awarded depending on the difference (if any) in declared and actual time over ‘target’. To score maximum points a crew must be perfectly on time or within one minute after of that estimated. The elapsed times must be reasonable and loitering near the target is not permitted, the judges are up in VB to ensure fair play!

 

With the first targets revealed the crews went to work. Unfortunately ‘FA’ was still out of service but the other four aircraft were available to take part. Alan Vick and Jonathan Senior were flying ‘FG’. ‘FC’ was crewed by our veterans Malcolm Jarvis and George Tunks. Simon Pimblet (one half of the winning crew for the last two years) was sharing his knowledge and skill with new member Philip Willis. The final competitors were Stewart Braddon and Andrew Hutson in ‘KA’. Andrew bringing along his father Paul, an ex North Weald Flying Group member as an extra pair of eyes. Paul Bazire was joined in VB by potential new member Nick Philp who was acting as second judge as well as getting familiar with the area.

The morning targets were a building in a marina on the north Kent coast at Conyer close to the Isle of Sheppey, a road bridge over the railway at Brantham near Manningtree and then a small road bridge over the river Waveney at Mendham in Suffolk. A stop for lunch was to made at Seething airfield in Norfolk where the next two locations would be revealed.

The crews departed at irregular intervals, setting time and course from the overhead at North Weald. Routing up towards East Anglia it remained one of those perfect flying days with the North Sea coastline being visible from 50+ miles away. VB loitered at 4,000ft over target 2 to catch the NWFG aircraft making their runs and we watched unseen as ‘FC’ made the first approach and carried out what appeared to be the perfect run in and then around the bridge for their photos. ‘KA’ was next but had some difficulty in locating the actual ‘target’. Moving on we circled at Mendham which was probably the most difficult to find before heading north to join overhead at Seething for R06.

A bit on the chilly side as we walked into the clubhouse to pay the £10 landing donation and to enjoy a well deserved drink in their very nice conservatory. Seething has a very interesting wartime history as a B24 base which we mentioned on a previous fly out report. If you haven’t visited Seething it’s well worth dropping in. They are very welcoming, but although a good selection of drinks is available food is somewhat limited.

 

With the mornings times noted and the next two ‘targets’ plotted, a stone obelisk at Ickworth Hall near Bury St Edmunds and a church at Cottered near Buntingford the crews mounted up for the afternoon session. The weather stayed perfect and after some good cross country nav around Mildenhall as well as Stansted it was all back into North Weald to tally the scores and listen to the excuses!

With any appeals dismissed by the judge and jury (me) the final scores could be tallied. Two crews, Malcolm and George in ‘FC’ and Alan and Jonathan in ‘FG’ scored 100%, an excellent result and no easy task. Well done guys, our first joint winners. The remaining two aircraft were a little way behind but still scoring very respectful results. Congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the others. There’s always next year!

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Contact us

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.

email: paul.bazire54@gmail.com
phone: 01992522090