RogerBW's Blog

Northolt Centenary Open Day 14 June 2015

Yesterday RAF Northolt had its Centenary Open day. Yes, it was first used as a flying-field in May 1915. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

I got there via South Ruislip station, which is notable mainly for its early concrete, glass and granite chip frieze by Henry Haig.

The police presence was a bit odd. Outside the gates were the Met; well inside were the RAF plod. In between, serving as a buffer zone and told nothing by either side (as it might be "we're now sending incoming cars down the exit lane as well as the entry lane"), were the RAF plod cadets.

There were five main hangars, two of them open for trade stalls. Weird trade stalls: chiropractors and "preserve your baby's fingerprint in silver", rather than the usual aviation tat sellers.

An appropriate poster. There was, alas, quite a lot of litter left about the place. Some people just can't muster the mental effort to look for a waste bin, apparently.

The Jensen Owners' Club was about. And why not?

Probably a BAe 146 in Hangar 1. They closed the door later so I didn't get a close look. (Thank you, 320mm lens.)

B-17 Sally B, in waiting.

Another BAe 146 ("Statesman") of the Queen's Flight.

With an odd tail attachment. "Rotating part" and explosive; surely not just a braking parachute? Someone has suggested missile countermeasures.

And some pleasingly baroque engine mounts.

Daimler Ferret scout car.

Other miscellaneous vehicles on display.

This is a "mine-resistant cab". Honest. Shrapnel-resistant would seem closer to the truth.

40mm Bofors, very highly polished and clearly for display.

A small row of de Havillands. Hornet Moth:

Tiger Moth:

Leopard Moth:

Another Hornet Moth:

Northrop Grumman Cutlass, ROV used for disarming of potentially explosive devices.

Other hardware used by 621 EOD Squadron

And of course the obligatory poor ergonomics.

Cutlass control station.

What's on the other side of that flap? They wouldn't tell me.

The display programme was somewhat shot full of holes by a 500 foot overcast, rising to about 2,000 feet later in the day. The Queen's Birthday Flight, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Red Arrows, and a P-51 from Duxford all cancelled, among others. I spotted the small amount of incoming traffic before most people, though it probably helped that I knew where to look (downwind).

Bloodhound SSC. Well, in theory. Looked to me like a mockup; look at that blatantly fake booster exhaust at the bottom of the tail. Pretty, even so.

BAe 125, without engines and slated for disposal.

A random container.


The Chinook that was meant to be displaying. They ran up the engines and hoped, but it didn't happen.

Finally, an actual flying display got started, with a Dragon Rapide from Duxford. (I have lots more photographs of all the flying displays. If you want a particular angle on a plane, drop me a line.)

B-17 Sally B, warming up and taxiing.

Another Chinook, perhaps meant to be part of the display if the clouds lifted.

Incoming traffic, a Hercules.

Sally B displaying.

Taxiway light detail.

A Bucker Jungmeister was next up to display. I didn't catch the details, but I suspect this was the one often seen at Duxford.

A GAZ-69 truck, and attached anti-aircraft gun.

The Spitfire display, a highlight of the day. Not particularly because it was doing anything impressive, but because Spitfires are always lovely.

An aerobatic team, "RV8tors", flying Vans RV-8s. Not their fault they came after everything else.

Vehicles queueing on the way out.

On the way home we popped into the motorway service station pub, to see what it would be like. The answer: surprisingly not too bad. Small, for a Wetherspoons, and clearly focused on food, but with five draught ales at £2.15 a pint (and the two we tried on very good form) they're clearly getting something right.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:42pm on 14 June 2015

    That Bloodhound SSC is indeed the mockup, built precisely for this sort of show. But the tail nozzles are representative, it has both a jet at the top (one of the Eurofighter development engines) and a rocket at the bottom. The rocket has more power so needs to be at the bottom to minimise rotational torque. The idea is the jet gives fine control of power eg. while passing through Mach 1 on the way to 1000mph or for low speed running, while the rocket has more power. The rocket is a hybrid, solid fuel for ease of handling with HTP oxidiser to allow it to be turned off. There's a V8 racing engine to run the HTP pump, which has a design derived from Blue Steel I believe.

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