With what appeared to be a record number of photographers attending, the first RAF Northolt Night Shoot of the season took place at the west London airfield as well as swelling the coffers of the restoration fund for Building 26, the Battle of Britain Sector Control Room in the process. In keeping with the Battle of Britain theme, and through a surcharge on the photographers to pay for its attendance, the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hurricane from Duxford arrived at sunset for an excellent aerobatics display by Charlie Brown for a group of World War Two Polish veterans who were attending a reunion at the Officers Mess. It then became part of the night shoot.
There were five new or ‘star’ items for the event. The aforementioned Hurricane, which turned out to be the only aircraft that had props turning that evening, the London Air Ambulance MD900 helicopter,the BAe 146 QC, the French Super Puma helicopter and the Swedish Air Force Sabreliner. Although first flown in September 1958, two North American/Rockwell Sabreliner’s didn’t join the Swedish Air Force until 1981 as the Tp86 and used by the Swedish AF Test Centre on a variety of testing tasks and 861 is the last of the two flying and hasn’t been seen in the UK since 1982.
Camera Used: Sony Alpha A57 SLT + Sony16-105mm/f3.5-5.6 Lens
Along with an Alpha Jet E, the French Air Force also sent a Eurocopter AS332M-1 Super Puma. Based on a civilian stretched version of the standard Puma this helicopter, from EH.03.067 “Parisis” based at Villicoublay, is configured as a VIP transport and a type not seen very often in British airspace let alone up close.
The largest aircraft parked under the floodlights was a new(ish) all grey BAE 146 C3 of No 32(TR) Squadron. Originally flown as a BAE 146 QC (Quick Change) this was one of two aircraft purchased from TNT for use in Afghanistan in both a passenger or cargo carrying capacity hence the Quick Change name and had only recently been accepted into service by the RAF.
The London Air Ambulance attended for the first time with their new MD900 helicopter that arrived and touched down on a portable platform just behind the Hurricane as it was doing its ground run. The MD900 was whisked away into one of the hangars to emerge a short time later all spick and span having had a wash and brush up. The Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit EC145 arrived just after the start of the event but didn’t stay long as it got called out on a ‘shout’ and had to scramble.
An excellent evening out although I was a bit out of my comfort zone as I wasn’t hand holding my camera but using a tripod which I found a bit restrictive, especially as I got boxed in during the Hurricane ground run, in the type and angle of shot I would have liked. Even the weather played ball.
A very big thanks to Phil, Lee, RAF Northolt Station Commander, Flight Ops, SERCO, visiting air crew and everyone else at Northolt who help make this event possible.
Rockwell TP-86 Sabreliner 40A/86-001/861 - Swedish Air Force
Hawker Hurricane XIIa Z5140/HA-C/(G-HURI)
Agusta-Westland AW139 277 - Irish Air Corp
Eurocopter AS332M-1 Super Puma 2377/FU - Armée de l’Air
Dassault Alpha Jet E 705-RU/E153 - Armée de l’Air
Eurocopter EC145 G-MPSB - Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit
MD900 Explorer G-EHMS - London Air Ambulance
BAe 146 C3/ZE707 - No 32(TR)Squadron, RAF Northolt
BAe 125 CC3/ZD703 - No 32(TR)Squadron, RAF Northolt
BAe 125 CC3/ZD620 - No 32(TR)Squadron, RAF Northolt
AgustaWestland A109E Power/ZR323 - No 32(TR)Squadron, RAF Northolt