This year the Association’s annual outing was to the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton on 5th September. Instigated and largely organised by Frank Rainsborough aided by Richard Cannon and Ken Batstone, the very enjoyable visit took members to the Reserve Collection and the Historic Flight, neither of which are routinely open to the public.

We travelled again by a comfortable Hills of Hersham coach, driven by the proprietor, Danny Hill, arriving at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at about 11.50 am.

The Curator of Aircraft, Dave Morris, took us to the Cobham Hall, a purpose built building funded by Sir Michael Cobham (son of the famous Sir Alan) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, which houses the surprisingly large Reserve Collection. Dave conducted round his treasures then set us free to study and photograph the exhibits at leisure.

There are some 40 aircraft in the collection, far too many to list here, but those of particular interest to Hawker people were: the Hawker P.1052 (VX272), Harrier GR9 (ZD433), Sopwith Triplane, Sopwith Baby, and Sopwith Camel. Others which took your Editor’s eye were the Supermarine 510, Fairy Flycatcher, Firefly and Gannet, Westland Wyvern TF Mk1 prototype, a Blackburn NA39 prototype and an Argentine Huey. There are lots of helicopters!

Royal Naval Air Station Visit
Click for Photos by Frank Rainsborough

After a very good lunch at the Swordfish restaurant, which several of us ate outside in the sunshine, we drove to the Historic Flight hangar. Here, the CO, Lt Cdr Ian Sloan and his administrator, Katie Campbell, explained the set up. The Flight has a Chipmunk for pilot assessment, training and tail wheel familiarisation; three Swordfish, one flying, one undergoing maintenance and one in a container; one Sea Fury FB11; one Sea Fury T.20; and a Sea Hawk, the latter undergoing deep maintenance. All are on the RN Register except for the T.20 which is on the UK Civil Register owned by the Royal Navy Heritage Trust.The Flight hopes to employ this procedure to expand the fleet using private sponsorship.

he T.20 and the Chipmunk were outside in the sunshine affording excellent photo opportunities. Once again we were given free reign to look at the aircraft, talk to the ground crew and take as many pictures as we liked in the maintenance area and outside.

Alongside the hangar was a Sea Hawk fuselage and the nearby airfield dump contained a wing-off Harrier T2 (ZB601), a damaged GR3 (XV756), and another, incognito but complete GR3.

We had had a splendid day at Yeovilton made all the better by the friendly and trusting Museum and Historic Flight staff…and the excellent sunny weather, a rarity this year.