Lest We Forget – The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

George Santayana the Spanish philosopher and essayist is responsible for two of my favourite literary quotes. They are “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. And, because presumably no one paid much attention to those words he is also credited with “only the dead have seen the end of war.”

The poignancy of these words is not lost on me each time I see the aircraft of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll have read of a previous encounter with the Lancaster. The sight and sound of the aircraft of the flight stirs my emotions like practically nothing else; so an invite to photograph their Public Display Authorisation displays at RAF Coningsby was a very pleasant surprise.

So heres the plan, each separate BBMF display is flown by the pilots who are scheduled to fly them throughout the year. This means there are 8 displays flown, three by the Lancaster, 3 by the fighters and 2 by the Dakota, all in a 90 minute window in the normal flying day at RAF Coningsby. And all with me standing on the 3 Sqn pan in the middle of the airfield. How very unfortunate!

The local Met Man played a blinder. He advised delaying the display by a couple of hours to allow some weather to blow through and the ever troublesome crosswinds to drop below limits. Sure enough at the appointed hour the winds died then, a few minutes after the flying began, the clouds lifted and the dull start gave way to late afternoon sunny spells. If only the BBC could be so accurate!

The Fighters.

The displays began with the classic BBMF Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster flypast, after that it was time for the fighters to display, the aircraft were Spitfire P7350 and Hurricane LF363.

Next up, the Spitfire duo of Mk Vb AB910 and MK LFIXe MK356.

Finally, after a quick crew change we were back with the Spitfire and Hurricane.

The Dakota.

Often overlooked, never forgotten. The mighty Gooney Bird. Two displays from this aircraft, it always surprises me how photogenic this aircraft can be.

The Lancaster

If the sight and sound of the Lancaster doesn’t stir your emotions then I’d go and see a doctor. Just as Victory is the flagship of the Navy, I would argue that PA474 is the flagship of the Royal Air Force.

And then it went quiet, until the Jets got going again. Coningsby is Fightertown UK and my next Blog will cover some of the Jets from the based squadrons. In these times of austerity and cutbacks, I’d argue that there is no more important PR and display function that the RAF perform, thus leading right back to my opening words at the top of this page. If you see the Flight’s aircraft during the course of the year, just take a moment to think what they represent.

I cannot thank the people at the BBMF and RAF Coningsby enough for giving me the chance to take these photos, it was an honour and a privilege.


5 responses

  1. David

    Wonderfully atmospheric shots. Thanks a bunch for posting these, Nick.

    May 1, 2012 at 6:39 am

  2. gary

    your one lucky man….and some beautiful pictures

    April 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  3. Patricia Ashton Powers

    wonderful xx

    April 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

  4. kelly.rhodes

    fantastic piece, I run the BBMF facebook page Battle of Britain Memorial flight (official) and I have shared this link, thank you so much for the time you put into this. Regards Kelly

    April 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

  5. Lovely shot of the Spits either side of the tower and Lanc/castle/church.

    April 29, 2012 at 10:37 am

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