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Rare Transports
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Rotary Club
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Testing Times
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King of the Air
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The Summer of aviation events is not just about airshows. A number of RAF bases often hold small airshows for their families and close neighbours and are not open to the public. A number of the these bases also recognise that these are of interest to aviation enthusiasts trying to capture some rare military types and often hold "Photocalls" in association with local aviation societies. One such base this year was RAF Northolt on the outskirts of London. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK Reports. All Photography copyright Paul Johnson/Flightline UK.

The Fast Jets
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T-Birds
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Pose!!!
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The hot weather continued on through June affording some bright conditions for RAF Northolt's Families and Charity Photocall. The photocall itself was organised Phil Dawe and his team of Steve Frejek and Malcolm Lander which saw a number of participants from the families day stay on for the benefit of the enthusiasts as well as one or two unique visitors.

The main differences between a normal airshow and a photocall apart from the lack are flying are the proximity to the aircraft visitors are afforded. Though many photocalls will use some barriers, Northolt was a different matter with no physical obstructions to get in the way of the photographs. Another benefit is the lack of vulgar fun fair or bouncy castle backgrounds that you get at the major shows. The worst culprit of this in the airshow world is RAF Waddington airshow - just compare the photographs here with those taken at Waddington last year in the static park! Of course the freedom does often mean someone gets in the way or the background, but then it's just a case of being patient.

32(TR) Squadron

The main unit based at RAF Northolt is 32 (The Royal) Squadron which are currently responsible for flying high ranking officials and the Royal Family around the world in a number of differing types. Fixed wing types with the Squadron are the BAE Systems 146 and BAE Systems 125 jets, the latter of which was on display at the Photocall. Rotary asset are headed by the new Agusta A109E executive transport helicopters which are amongst the newest type in the RAF inventory, though under a PFI. The appearance of the A109Es at the photocall mark the first public appearance of the type away from official duties.

The participation for the event was entirely military or defence contractor. Highlight for many was a rare appearance by Martin Baker's Meteor T7 1/2 ejection seat test platform which was also likely to have been the oldest aircraft on display. Like many of the RAF's training aircraft it wears a smart all gloss black scheme with a gold cheat line and Martin Baker logos. It is based at Chalgrove Airfield with Martin Baker. Another "testing" aircraft on display was the Beagle Bassett from the QinetiQ fleet based at Boscombe Down. It was a very pleasing addition to the show as it may have been one of the last opportunities for many to capture a "Rasberry Ripple" schemed aircraft close up as the QinetiQ fleet is slowly updated with newer types. Another "twin" in the line up was the Army Air Corps's Islander AL1 from 1flt.

There was a full compliment of RAF training aircraft on display. The earliest opportunity that most have to flying with the RAF is as part of the Air Cadets. One of the types they can fly, the Viking T1 glider was present at the show with it's typical white and day glow stripes. The next step in the chain is the Grob Tutor T1 of which there were a pair in the photocall. These aircraft do not share the all black scheme due to their GRP construction which needs to remain white. The more advanced trainers in the RAF leading up to the front line were represented by a 207(R) Sqn Tucano T1 and a 19(R) Sqn Hawk T1. Multi engine pilots now fly the Beech King Air 200 with 55(R) Sqn, but like the Tutor wear a white and blue scheme thanks mainly to their privately owned status.

Amongst the rest of the RAF Participation were five Tornados of various marks. Two Tornado F3 aircraft from 111 sqn made a rare public outing in 2006 - there are no F3 displays this year! Three Tornado GR4s appeared from various squadrons - No XV, IX and XIII from RAF Lossiemouth and Marham though sadly none of the special marked aircraft was available. One specially marked aircraft on show was 33 sqn's Puma HC1 with it's battle honour on the side doors.

Foreign Military participation was also present, always a bonus such an event. Biggest supporters were the Germans - perhaps they were trying to avoid the World Cup! From the Luftwaffe came a welcome appearance by a Search and Rescue equipped UH-1D Iroquois with bright day glow doors. Three Bo105 anti tank helicopters came from the German Army, one of which has specially marked "tubes" for the event with cryptic messages! The Irish Air Corps participant was much more representative of Northolt's current role of a military airport with it's new Learjet 45 looking glorious in the hot sunshine.

Well done to all involved for a pleasant day with some great opportunities for photographing aircraft that would otherwise be behind metal barriers at an airshow with limited angles. Planning's already underway for 2007 on the 10th June.

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