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RAF Northolt Night-shoot IX

The second of Northolt's Night-shoots of the year took place towards the end of May when the days are much longer, and darkest doesn't settle in until well after 9pm. Philip Dawe had once again managed to attract another small but varied collection of military machinery for a dedicated group of photographers.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of Paul Johnson/Flightline UK and James George/Flightline UK.

At one point, it looked like the latest Night-shoot would be scuppered by volcanic ash from another Icelandic Volcano. Thankfully though the eruption and weather patterns were slightly different this time around and the ash threat quickly diminished. This photo-call boasted a much more European feel with participation from Belgium, France and Poland as well as available UK assets.

Sadly, since the last Night-shoot, Northolt was dealt a very sad blow when it's very popular Station Commander, Group Captain Tom Barrett passed away following a road accident near-by. He was a highly respected commanding officer for the station and is very much missed by the personnel that work at Northolt.

The early summer slot changes the dynamics of the Night-shoot considerably. For the first few hour, it remain light despite the threat of further heavy showers that caused flash floods across London during the day. Photographers were allowed a brief walk around the pan to get shots with the light behind them of the Polish Navy M28 Bryza, Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BA, French Air Force Alpha Jet E and Defence Helicopter flying School Squirrel HT3.

The sunset however did produce some dramatic backdrops in the early part of the evening, particular over the 32 Squadron BAe 146 and 125s which had just returned from sorties during the day. The pilot of the French Air Force Alpha Jet E even posed with his aircraft for some shots wearing his flying kit!

Once darkness finally fell it was time for the fun to start. First was an engine run by the Polish Navy Bryza. It was a little delayed as the pilot disappeared for a short while but was eventually encouraged back to his aircraft. The Bryza is a maritime patrol aircraft in Polish Navy service and has been regular participant at airshows throughout Europe

Following hot on the heels of the Bryza, the crew of the Belgian Air Component Agusta A109 also performed a ground run. They had hoped to bring a aero-medical equipped A109 over, but a last minute glitch led to a standard version in it's anti-tank configuration making the trip to Northolt. By the end of that ground-run, it was almost closing time, at 2230! There was just enough time to cram in a few more photos of the remaining participants before many drifted away.

It may have been a late end, but this was one of the most enjoyable Night-shoots ever thanks to a range of different lighting and the colourful and diverse participants Philip Dawe had managed to put together. All the funds raised from these events help to preserve and restore the heritage of RAF Northolt, in particular the Battle of Britain Operations Room

Thanks to Philip Dawe and all at RAF Northolt

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