One of the real privileges made possible by writing is the chance, every so often, to enjoy money-can’t-buy experiences. In August 2004, while I was researching Vulcan 607, just three days before returning to Brize Norton to fly out to the Falklands, I was lucky enough to fly on board a 101 Squadron VC10 during an air-to-air refuelling sortie out over the North Sea.
The memory of taxiing out onto the runway while sitting in the flight deck jumpseat is still vivid. There was something surprisingly stirring about making the turn on to the runway from a position so far ahead of the nosewheel. A great feeling of restrained, potential power, I think.; anticipation of what was to come when the co-pilot pushed forward the four throttles and gave the Conway engines their head.
Anyway, here are a couple of the pictures from the flight aboard TARTAN 41. The F3s (callsign TARRAGON) were from 43 Squadron Jaguars (callsign BOXER or TURBO) from 6 Squadron and the GR4s from 9 Squadron (callsign BATMAN). The geekiest amongst you will notice that they’ve borrowed a 2 (AC) Squadron jet.
Looking at the photographs now, the most striking thing is that of the three RAF types I saw from the windows of that fabulous old British airliner, the Jaguar, Tornado F3 and Tornado GR4, two have now been retired. I took pictures of them all. My only real regret is that, inexplicably, I never too any photographs of the VC10s themselves. Thankfully, other people have and there are some great pictures – View pictures on TARGET AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY >>
There are plenty more of the photographs I took posted in the GALLERY SECTION of the website.