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RAF Northolt Nightshoot VI

Philip Dawe and No 32 Squadron provided a welcome break from the long and sometimes arduous "off-season" with their first "Nightshoot" of the year. The Northolt Photocalls have become very popular since they started thanks to the tireless efforts of Philip and his loyal band of supporters. They have a superb reputation for providing some unrivalled oppotunities for unique photographs. The first Nightshoot of the also promised some very interesting participants. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of Author.

The concept of the "Nighshoot" is proving a very popular style of event with regular events at Northolt, Elvington, Newark and Bruntingthorpe. Northolt of course has the advantage of attracting some interesting visitors from current military aircraft. For the first event of 2010, Philip Dawe has managed to attract some significant interest from France. Sadly, the rather wet weather over the UK and Europe played a part in two cancellations. Bad weather en-route forced the Securite Civile CL415 to abandon it's attempt to get to Northolt while a French Air Force Mirage 2000D turned back with Northolt's runway become increasingly saturated.

However, that didn't stop some very interesting visitors making it to the Middlesex airfield. With the event being open to limited numbers, the organisation is informal but well executed. On arrival at the airfield, you sign in to recieve your passes for yourself and vehicle. Once parked up, the photographers are gathered for a short breifing before being "let loose" aong the flightline. No 32 Squadrons new hanger complex and floodlighting make this the perfect venue for a night-time photoshoot.

Dominating the flightline were all three Tornado GR4s from No 41(R) Squadron. No 41 Sqn are a famous Battle of Britain Squadron equipped with Spitfires and the aircraft have been suitable adorned with identifaction codes of some of the Battle of Britain aircraft. Today, the Squadron provides the RAF Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit.

Alongside the Tornados was a RAF Hawk T1. This was the first public appearance by 208(R) Squadrons display Hawk wearing it's very patriotic new colour scheme for the upcoming display seaon. The paint had only just set prior to the event so this really was an exclusive chance to get one of the first photographs of the display aircraft

Another type making it's first public appearance was the Chinook HC3 from the Chinook Development Flight at RAF Odiham. The HC3 aircraft are just entering service to provide a much needed booat to the Support Helicopter Force. The aircraft arrived just at the Nightshoot was getting underway and provided a chance to get some photographs with the rotors turning. Another helicopter was a Agusta A109 from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury. This particular aircraft wears a none standard silver and black colour scheme so was a welcome

Adding some welcome "international" flavour were a pair of Alpha Jet Es from ET02.002 “Cote d’Or." The Alpha Jets were perhaps parked a little too far back for some, though towards the end of the night there was an oppotunity to get up closer to the aircraft.

As with all the Northolt Photocalls I've attended, this was a hugely enjoyable evening. Thanks must go to Philip Dawe, his volunteers and the personnel of No 32 Squadron who help makie these events such a success helping to raise funds for the restoration of Northolt's Operation Room.

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