Frank Rainsborough reports on the 2017 annual outing…. Photos by Frank
The Hawker Association's outing, this year, was to the Royal Navy Historic Flight's new home in the Navy Wings Heritage Centre, Hangar 15, South Dispersal, RNAS Yeovilton.
The Association's previous visit was in 2012 and the Flight had invited us to 'please come again'. The RNHF has since taken up residence in their new and much larger hangar which accommodates not only their two Swordfish, two Sea Furies and humble but much used Chipmunk, but also three additional naval aircraft, Sea Harriers ZH800 and ZH801 and Phantom F-4K XV586. The unfortunately seriously damaged Sea Vixen XP924 remains there whilst decisions are made about its future.
The day started by assembling the 21 Hawker Association members and friends in the Fleet Air Arm Museum café, and by the 1215 target everybody had been registered and been given a 'goody-bag' that was later to have items added by the RNHF. At 1230 the Flight's Display Manager and event host, Katie Campbell, arrived and led the our convoy through the security gate, around the perimeter road and into the Navy Wings office block where a short briefing was given.
The group was welcomed by Commodore Jock Alexander
OBE MA FRAeS, recently retired from the Navy as Commanding Officer RNAS
Yeovilton and now the Chief Executive Fly Navy Heritage Trust. Jock
gave a summary of his 39 year career in the Navy and then introduced Lt
Cdr Chris Gotke AFC RN, Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy Historic
Flight. He told us about his flying career which covered many types
that were of interest to the audience, but particularly so the Sea
Harrier. He named some of the pilots who would be joining the Flight as
display pilots and explained that the T20 2-seat Sea Fury was getting
back into its flying display routines and answered questions on various
Our group was then split into two, half were guided by Navy Wings supporter Mike Elliott, the other half by Katie Campbell, both guides showing their knowledge and passion for the aircraft under their care. We had unrestricted access to the RNHF aircraft and were free to take photos. Time passed all too quickly until the call came for tea and biscuits, and merchandise sales, in the Briefing Room.
To conclude the day Barry Pegram thanked Katie, commenting that, yes, we'd seen senior naval ranks that day but it was clear who was really in charge! Barry added that the £10 fees that attendees had paid would be donated to the Fly Navy Heritage Trust. Finally, a vote of thanks was given to Frank Rainsborough who, with Katie, had organised the event.
And so the day ended with everybody happy and holding a bagful of interesting items, one of which was an invitation to become a Navy Wings Supporter.