Another fantastic week at the Royal International Air Tattoo with success for both 621 VGS and the 621 VGS Historic Flight.
The gliders were de-rigged on the Tuesday and loaded into their trailers. A lot of work had been done to get the Historic flight trailers serviceable which was completed as the aircraft were being loaded. The convoy headed to Fairford on Wednesday and after a mass rigging session, the Venture arrived by air and a Vigilant arrived by road with one of the new Skylaunch winches. The display set-up was finalised and then the hanger (large marquee) stack attempted – was a bit of a squeeze.
With the aircraft surviving their first night under canvas, they were again arranged in the display area ready for Thursday’s initial round of the Concourse D’Elegance. With the aircraft and MT getting a thorough clean and polish before the judges arrived. We even smartened up the display area with a lawn mower and maybe got a bit carried away with a little 621 branding exercise (see the photo further down)
We had entered the Viking and the Sedbergh into the competition. At the Aircrew Meet and Greet evening event it was announced that both aircraft had made it through to the next round.
This year Friday is not just a VIP day, but open to the public as well. It’s also the day the RIAT Crew Challenge event is held. We had entered a team and once again they did there best – just how good would be revealed later at the Gala Dinner.
The RIAT Gala Dinner is a back-tie event attended by VIP’s and dignitaries from around the world, as well as selected Aircrew and participants from the Crew Challenge. It starts with a Sunset Ceremony, this year performed by the RAF Band and RAF Regiment Display team, with a Spitfire overhead before guests sit down for dinner.
After the food and speeches came the awards. By now we knew, from the number of judging visits, that our entries were in with a good chance. What we didn’t know is that the Sedbergh WB922 of the 621 VGS Historic Flight would win the Best Civilian Aircraft in show! Being instrumental in it’s creation and continued operation, Flt Lt Adam Clarke collected the award. The awards for the Crew Challenge were then announced. With our team “Fly 621” winning the Aircraft Recognition trophy collected by the team leader Flt Lt Derek Kitcher.
Saturday and Sunday are both full public display days. Despite being at the very end of the flight line we were visited by lots of people over the weekend. Many had stories to tell about their first flights in the historic aircraft as well as those in the current VGS aircraft – including one ex 621 staff member and current RAF Red Arrows pilot Flt Lt Mike Bowden!
After the display had finished we packed up our display, loaded the aircraft into their trailers ready for the trip home. By the end of Monday we had the aircraft rigged back in the safety of the hanger at Hullavington.