A mixed season for the battle of Britain memorial flight
What a season – good and bad!
It was wonderful to get the Lancaster back on the Flight in time for our 60th celebrations and the new ‘Thompson’ display received many accolades, but aircraft serviceability and the weather have since played havoc with us this year. However, with all the hard work of our engineers, the MOD teams who work with us and industry partners, the problem that we had with the Merlin pinion gear has been tackled and we were able to put on a comprehensive display at some key venues.
At the End of Season Guest Night, the Peter Thompson Trophy for ‘Best Engineer’ was awarded to SAC(T) Lorelle Butler for her great work over the year, whilst the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Excellence Award went to Kelly Jestin for her sterling work as Visitor Centre Manager.
Now we are back to dealing with the usual maintenance and training (if working with these historic aircraft can ever be described as ‘usual’). Over the winter, the aircraft are stripped to undergo an annual service and are rarely seen out of the hangar. This year, however, you will see the Dakota and Spitfire MK356 flying as neither of these aircraft is due an annual service.
The new paint scheme of the Spitfire MK356 is desert camouflage, commemorating those who fought in the Desert Air Force of WWII.
The Dakota needed a new starboard engine which has recently been fitted, so it will be good to have this aircraft back in the skies, this type having served in every theatre of WWII and for many years after. We keep a Chipmunk available too, for training.
Looking forward, the BBMF will have a big part to play in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force – who better to have a presence in the sky to demonstrate the RAF’s WWII history or to show the contrast between today’s high-tech ‘guardians of the sky’ and those of earlier years? Several projects with BBMF input have already been set in motion, so look out for our appearance in documentaries, short videos and articles over the next year.
Some members of the Flight have moved on to pastures new – Flt Lt Antony Parkinson, WO Kev Ball, FS Dean McAllister, Cpl Chris Rooker and SAC(T) Kris Shimmin; Cpl Darryn Berry and SAC(T) Ian Taylor leave at Christmas – and we wish them all the best. Welcome to some new faces – Sqn Ldr Mark Sugden (who will be OC BBMF from 2021), WO Chris York, CT Craig Facey and Cpl Rich Boyce.
Lest We Forget.