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  1. 1. I am thinking of doing a world tour along the lines of my ATWC adventures

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    • For pitys sake no don't do it.

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I little poll for you all on a project I have in mind.... Visiting historic airfields, battlefields, and other places of historical interest 


I originally was going to do a world tour but when it came to the planning, well it was too much.


So it will be closer to home and a tour of Europe visiting places of military and aviation interest.

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Chapter 2 – Brooklands: Wings and wheels, the adventure starts.   History   Brooklands has been at the heart of British aviation since its inception. Original a banked motor racing circuit opened

Another charge against the quality of french restaurants !     As my grandfather in Saint Malo used to say : " If God has put the englishmen on an island, there must be a reason ! " 

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JG's European tour.


Chapter one – How it all started


Jasmine was a spook, and a very attractive one at that. Other than that, I knew nothing about her. I had first met her a while ago now, since my participation in an annual event organised by a major player in the aircraft industry. I owed her a lot from the help she gave me in that event, and deep down I had always suspected that there would be a payback required one day.


I was recently ex RAF, and had been certified on all the RAF aircraft flown by H.M. Forces up to and including the F35B lightning 2. I had “retired” after a minor altercation in a public house with a portly businessman over who was to be served first at the bar.   The portly gentleman had his pint poured over his head and had been punched in the face for good measure.  I ended up in the local nick and had to be bailed by the C.O.. Unimpressed as he was by my behaviour, the C.O. was even less pleased when it transpired that the portly business man was the brother of the Minister of Defense. My career was over, and the RAF and I parted company.


For a while I did nothing, half-halfheartedly applying for pilot jobs in the airline industry, drawing the dole and generally mooching around wasting my time, when out of the blue I was contacted by the Chairman of the company that organised the around the world event, known as ATWC 6 and asked if I wanted to take part, all expenses paid. It was a chance to fly again, a chance to live a little better than I was, and most importantly to fly again. I snapped it up straight away.


And so I took part in the event which was, as it turned out, not quite as straight forward as it sounded. I quickly did what I did best and pissed off some very powerful people. Very powerful criminal people. My flight around the world quickly became flee around the world as these powerful criminals sought to end my career in breathing. When it looked like I was done for, Jasmine stepped in to save the day. At the time I had the wind up so badly, I didn’t stop to think why her arrival was so timely. I should have.


It transpired that the government department she worked for had been keeping tabs on me since my untimely departure from the RAF.  They were interested in my skill set and thought I had potential as “an asset”, whatever that meant. They were indirectly responsible for my taking part in aforementioned the around the world event. Having lent on the organisers to get me into it, they were using the participation in this affair as a test of my abilities. However, if they thought I was spook potential, I guess they were disappointed. I certainly was not the most covert player in that particular game.


It was only after my participation in the event ended did Jasmine pounce. With the RAF stretched and with few pilots converted to the F35B they need someone to conduct a European tour in the aircraft.  The tour was planned to take in as many historic military sites as possible with the aim of highlighting the state of the art aircraft in a “see how far we have come” sort of way. I was to be employed a civilian test pilot by the Ministry of Defense. Given the reason for my departure from the RAF, there was a certain irony in this. I had received no interest from the airlines I had canvased for employment and so was free to do it.  A wage is a wage, and so I took the job.


I met up with Jasmine and we spent a month planning the trip. This is what we came up with.:



We were to leave from Historic Brooklands in Surrey and fly anticlockwise around our route. At each location we would be visiting an historic site, doing some handshaking and such with local dignitaries, and undertaking a flypast or sometimes more at each venue. We would end our tour by doing a flypast over Buckingham Palace and then with a vertical landing in Hyde Park.


Next: Brooklands: The adventure starts.









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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 2 – Brooklands: Wings and wheels, the adventure starts.




Brooklands has been at the heart of British aviation since its inception. Original a banked motor racing circuit opened in 1907, it was the first purpose built motor racing circuit in the world. Soon it was the centre of British motor car technical development, specifically car engines. 




Brooklands motor racing. – An interesting place to park a coach don’t you think?


This inevitably attracted the first builders of aeroplanes, and a year after the racing circuit opened, Alliot Verdon-Roe based himself and his new company A V Roe at Brooklands. In 1909 the first official powered flight took place here. The first flight was actually made in secret to the Army by Samuel Cody in 1908 just a few miles away at Farnborough. By 1910 the aero side of Brooklands had expanded rapidly. 



The writing is on the wall for the end of motor racing.
In the years before the First World War, it attracted the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Vickers, the Sopwith Aviation Company and many more aviation pioneers. From 1912 Marconi pioneered air to ground wireless communication at Brooklands.
During World War One Brooklands closed as a motor racing circuit, and was requisitioned by the War Office.  By 1915 Vicars had set up a factory manufacturing military aircraft, and military training squadrons was formed on the site. In 1917 three large general service sheds were constructed on the site which handled the assembly and testing of large numbers of aircraft. This facility was to last until 1920 when it closed.

World War 2 manufacture of Wellington Bombers.


Motor racing resumed in 1920 and continued until the start of the Second World War. The site was then handed over to the war time production of military aircraft. During the war, Vicars Wellington bombers Vicars Warwick Maritime reconnaissance aircraft and Hawker Hurricanes were manufactured on the site. The motor racing circuit was damaged by German bombing, and by the expansion of the aircraft manufacturing plant, such that the site would never become a motor racing venue again. Interestingly, the site was also used as an office and base by Barns Wallice, designer of the Wellington, for the design of the famous ‘Dambusters’ bouncing bomb.  
 Brooklands as it is today.
Note: a lot of the oval circuit is still visible although it is split by many roads and has been encroached upon by a housing estate and some offices on its eastern edge.
Part of the original runway is visible in the bottom half of the site. 
What appears to be a continuation of the runway in the top half of the circuit is new and is part of Mercedes Benz world.
Visit http://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/ for more information.
A Vicars Vanguard over Wisley.

In 1951 a new hard runway was built which further degraded the old motor racing circuit, to allow Vicars Valiant bombers, manufactured on the site to be flown to the nearby Wisley aerodrome. The runway was too short at Brooklands to service a fully complete Valiant, but with much of its less vital fittings, it could be flown to Wisley with its long runway for completion and testing. Both Brooklands and Wisley played a major part in the post war design and build of the TSR2 prototypes, the BAC One-eleven airliner and then the VC10. Sections of Concord were also built there.


Brooklands and Wisley finally closed in 1989. On the Brooklands site there is a museum for both motor racing and aircraft manufacture with many fine exhibits including a Concord, a VC 10, a BAC One Eleven, and a Wellington to name but a few.


For those of you with a keen interest in gardening, the Wisley site was on the A3 directly opposite the RHS Gardens. If you know where to look, the hardstanding and runway are still there although now much overgrown with weeds. No buildings remain though.


The verbal tour of our start point complete, it is back to the job in hand.  Jasmin picked me up from my house, a 15 minute drive from Brooklands, and we headed off. There is little of the runway left now at Brooklands, but enough left to take off in an F35B. It should draw quite a crowd.


The only part of the surviving runway is now used as a carpark. The plan was to leave Brooklands with a vertical take-off using an F35B, fly to Wisley and use the longer runway there to commence the main leg with a full fuel load and a short rolling take-off.


Well, in my experience, all plans are adhered to until you start them. It wasn’t until we reached Brooklands that we had the bad news that the F35B was need elsewhere.  Hardly surprising really as the RAF has very few of them as yet, but a bit of a blow to the tour.


However an alternative aircraft was available in the form of a Red Arrows Hawk.  This was to be made available at Farnborough airport. So it was decided to start from Brooklands and travel by car to Wisley to look at the abandoned aerodrome, and from there to Farnborough, again by car.


There was a silver lining to this change in plan as it now meant Jasmine could travel with me in the back seat for the whole tour. However we wouldn't be able to end the tour in Hyde Park, instead we were to fly at low level up the Thames, and then over the Mall and Buckingham palace to a landing at London City Airport.  


So we started our adventure with a visit to Brooklands museum. The Museum houses a large collection of aircraft associated with the history of the site, as well as a large collection of cars and motorbikes also associated with the motor racing era of the site. Within the museum is the Cobham Bus Museum, a large collection of buses not associated with the site but recently added to the museum from a nearby site.


Nearby the large collection of Mercedes cars, a small test track and a skid pad make up Mercedes Benz World is also open to the public.




Brooklands remaining sections and the encroaching developments.


We had a whistle stop tour of the museum, a place you could spend all day at. Of particular interest to me was the fine selection of aero engines, from the earliest two cylinder engine, through the more and more complex piston engines, Then the early jets to the high tech modern military jet engines.


Also of interest was the Stratosphere Chamber designed by Barns Wallis of bouncing bomb fame, a key installation that was vital in the development of the post war Vickers aircraft. It is big enough to fit a complete Sea Vixen into it with its wings folded.


We also paid a visit to the top of the top of the Brooklands Hill Climb track (still used) to see a secret of the site, one not advertised by the museum.  On the top of the hill is one of the last remaining Flack Towers in Britian from the Second World War, built to protect the vital aircraft production.




Clockwise… Prototype Harrier (P.1127) with a Swiss Hunter in the background,

The Stratosphere chamber,

A Bus on the banking, some of the many racing cars on display,

and centre, Brooklands museum from the air.


We then drove the six miles to the old Wisely aerodrome.


In truth there is little to see here.  The old apron still exists as does the long runway, but no buildings survive on the site.




Wisley airfield today. The shapes of long gone buildings can be seen on the apron as can be the runway markings


We had a mooch around the runway and its surrounding area for thirty minutes or so. There is not a huge amount to see as all of the buildings have long gone. What remains is the apron, taxiways and the runway itself.  Look closely and you will find plenty of evidence of the sites former purpose.


Below are some photos I took on our pilgrimage to this dilapidated but historic site.




Wisley Airfield apron and Maintenance area





Evidence of the existence of aircraft hangers, the hanger door tracks.





Just visible are the piano keys at the beginning of runway 10.




Looking down the 2 Km of runway 10. The runway numbers are just visible.




The taxiway from Runway 28 leading to the apron.




From the site of an old hanger looking up the taxiway towards runway 10. 



After we had seen all there was to see, we got back into the car and set off to Farnborough, arriving there a half hour later.




Farnborough from the air.


Farnborough, once a place where test pilots flew aircraft to their limits and beyond is now an airport that services executive jets and, of course, the famous air show every two years.


Farnborough Airport started at the start of the 20th century with the creation of His Majesty's Balloon Factory and hosted the first powered flight in Britain in 1908. This subsequently became the Royal Aircraft Establishment, dedicated to British aircraft research.


Farnborough airfield and RAE was bombed by Germany on the 13th August 1940 by a flight of Junkers 88 A-1’s from the KG 54 squadron during World War 2.


In 2003, when the Ministry of Defence stopped operations at Farnborough. All experimental aircraft were moved to MoD Boscombe Down; the airport was taken over by TAG Aviation.


XX308 was waiting for us on the eastern side of the main concrete apron. Fueled up, ready to go and painted in the new Red Arrows colours.




Red Arrows Hawk XX308 at Farnborough.




Climbing into the Cockpit




Next up: The flight to Evreux-Fauville in la belle France! I finally get into the air!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am sorry that this next part of my trip has taken so long to produce.  Real world matters have once again barged out my fantasy world. 


Chapter 2 Flight to Eveux-Fauville.


The plan was to fly to 5000ft and fly direct to Eveux-Fauville, no frills attached. IFR plan submitted we went out to the aircraft.  It was still light as we climbed in and asked for taxi permission to the fuel area, but the sun was ever lower in the sky and I had to use the tinted visor as we taxied into the sun.


By the time we had taxied to the runway the night was just upon us.





Taxi to runway 06. Quite dark now


Take off clearance given we take to the air. ATC gave us a bearing and instructed us to fly at 5000 feet. I hauled the aircraft around, pointed her south south east and climbed to the required height.  At 5000 ft. the horizon is further away and we found we had caught up with the twilight. Cloud below us, the sky darkened into night while the stars turned up their brightness for a beautiful display.





Higher up and sundown is later.


Going south, dusk was further prolonged, but soon the moon was up and the last gasp of the day was just a blue streak on the horizon. 





By the light of the silvery moon.


We settled into a cruise at 5000 ft.. It seemed that we weren’t going higher for this small hop and ATC gave us a heading that made a beeline for our target airfield.  Not too long after we crossed the French coast, we were ordered to make a 30 degree port turn and headed to a point where we would turn in for our approach.





That famous Red Arrow against the star speckled sky.


The Hawk is one of my favorite aircraft. She is a delight to fly and although not supersonic is a quick aircraft and well suited to almost any acrobatic manoeuvre, she is also suited to low level flying and so ticks every box for me.  


Ten minutes later we were vectored onto the runway heading, I reduced speed and then dipped the flaps to their approach setting.

With the runway in sight, our speed as down far enough to lower the undercarriage and move the flaps to their landing setting. 





Runway in sight


We made a perfect touchdown, turned onto to a taxiway and said goodbye to our controller.  





On the runway


Having tuned to the ground controller we received taxi instructions, and after a lengthy taxi were parked up on the stand.





Parked on the stand.


Next up - We take a look at Evreux-Fauville its self.


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Chapter 3 - Evreux–Fauville: A chequered history


Having successfully completed the first leg of the tour and landed at Evreux-Fauville let’s take a few moments and look at where we are.




Evreux-Fauville is so named because the airfield is located between the settlements of Evreux and Fauville.


It was set up in the 1920’s as a sport flying airfield, a result of the post World War One rapidly expanding interest in flying.  The airfield was further developed in the 1930’s when a concrete runway was installed.


At the start of the Second World War, in the period known as the phony war, after the declaration of war and before the merde a frappé le ventilateur so to speak, the airfield was used as a French Air Force base. The French Air Force maintained several aircraft types at the base including Dewoitine D.500 fighters, Potez 630 bombers, as well as several American built P36 Hawks, Martin A-22 Maryland and Douglas DB-7 light bombers.


However, these aircraft were no match for their German counterpart, and were shown up to be so when the Third Reich turned its attention on France.   




A Dewoitine D.500 fighter.






A Potez 630 bomber


When the Germans attacked on 3rd June 1940 these French aircraft proved no match for their German counterparts. Most of the French air force was destroyed on the ground, so quick was the German advance. However those aircraft that managed to get airborne found that the German aircraft had a higher ceiling than the defending aircraft and so interception was very difficult. The few skirmishes that there were went badly for the French who suffered heavy losses. 


Twenty two days after the invasion started it was all over for France. Operation Paula, the Luftwaffe offensive operation to destroy the French Air Force had been a complete success.


 After the fall of France the Luftwaffe took up residence at Évreux, flying Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) and Junkers Ju 88 aircraft of Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG 54) during the Battle of Britain.




A Messerschmitt Bf 109 at Évreux-Fauville Airfield in 1943






 German crew playing cards by their Junkers Ju 88 aircraft at Évreux


The German pilots experience with the fall of France was completely reversed when these newly victorious airman ventured across the Channel.  JG 2 lost about 42 aircraft, and KG 54 lost 62 aircraft in the Battle of Britain.


During the war, the Germans improved the runways and other facilities. Later, they stationed Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters on the base when JG 2 converted to them.


Évreux was heavily bombed and attacked by Allied fighters and bombers, especially those of the U.S. Army Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. By July 1944, within a month of the Normandy invasion of 6 June, the runways and taxiways were useless, pockmarked with bomb craters and debris.




Evreux airfield being given the good news sometime in 1944.


After the base was liberated in 1944, the RAF took up residence and ran operations there until 1945. After the war the airfield was largely unused save for a small aero club, and remained like this until 1951


With the advent of the Cold War, Evreux passed into the hands of the US Airforce. Four years later, in 1955, having been thoroughly overhauled by the Americans, US Nato operations commenced at the site. The first occupancy was by the 465th Troop Carrier Wing who remained there until 1958 when they were replaced by the 317th Troop Carrier Wing. 





American transport aircraft at Evreux at the start of the cold war


Later in 1958 this wing was incorporated into the 332nd Air Division who remained there until 1964 after which the airbase was given reserve status and was maintained by 7305 Combat Support Group. Two years later, in 1966, De Gaulle pulled France out of Nato and the airbase passed to the French Airforce. Despite France re-entering NATO the base has remained in French Airforce control.




Evreux Airforce base at it is today.


Today the base hosts the several French Airforce squadrons flying DHC – 300, C130s and C160Rs and C160Gs.


In the next leg of the tour, we head south remaining in France, and we visit one of France's most infamous towns.



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Terrific tour!

You'd make a great airfield museum docent JG.


Those USAF C-119 shots make me wish a better model was available for FSX than what I found long time ago, and never use anymore. Terrific haulers...but a $#^% VC freeware unfortunately. :(


/drops a fiver in the donation box on the way out.

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  • 4 weeks later...

At Evreux-Fauville I had a great night out with a local historian who had helped me with my research into the airfield. We went to a great seafood restaurant, or so I thought.


I got food poisoning. It was bad, very bad.  I had a few chats with God on the big white telephone* and then in a French hospital.  I am well enough to jot down these few words now from my hospital bed, but my tour has been delayed for the moment.


It will continue as soon as i am well enough to fly again.    :( 



*For the uninitiated, talking to God on the big white telephone is euphemism for having ones head down the toilet, copiously throwing up, while intermittently saying "Oh God". 

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Ouch...seafood poisoning is THE WORST..."Poseidon's Revenge".


I ate some bad crab cakes once that "smelled slightly off"...well...head that warning... I only ate 2 cakes before they started turning into revived crab zombies in my stomach...they fought each other all the way out the back door before the check arrived.


You did the right thing...return all seafood via Poseidon's Porcelain Phone, direct line to the sea.

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Another charge against the quality of french restaurants !  :D   As my grandfather in Saint Malo used to say : " If God has put the englishmen on an island, there must be a reason ! "  :P


Loic that made me chuckle.......good one....

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