Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Scottish Aviation Ltd Twin Pioneer ‘saved’

While it may not be the museum class restoration some would want to see, it’s still nice to see that an example of a Scottish Aviation Ltd Twin Pioneer aircraft will not be left to rot, or broken up.

Built at the Prestwick factory almost 60 years ago (coincidentally in the 1960s too), G-APRS, or ‘Primrose’, retired from her last job in pilot training due to ageing wing struts after 59 years in service.

The airframe will serve as accommodation (beside a Sea King helicopter that took on a similar job a few years ago) with a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom fitted inside to replace 14 seats – but the cockpit will remain.

Vintage plane’s new lease of life as holiday home for high-flyers

The very same aircraft can be seen below, preparing to taxi at RAF Abingdon in 2004.

G-APRS Twin Pioneer RAF Abingdon 2004

G-APRS Twin Pioneer RAF Abingdon 2004

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

My first drone

My first drone – but not mine as in owned (that sort of expense, for a worthwhile one, is a thing of the past), rather it appears to be my next door neighbour’s new toy.

Playing the same trick I would, and flying it within his own property boundary, I spotted this more as a movement in the corner of my eye, rather than from the sound of its rotors.

I’m guessing (you can’t tell a lot against a bright sky at distance) it’s a one of the budget models – lots of nice features, but all built from the cheap end of the market, and sold in the toy department rather from a model shop or drone supplier. They may not be ‘pro’, but I have been impressed by the features on offer from a certain TV shopping channel recently. The ‘bendy’ aspect of many parts is particularly clever, meaning that unlike a robust drone, they bounce rather than break with things go wrong.

It flew well enough, and was stable when left to hover on its own, but when it did manoeuvre, there was no sound of ‘power’ from the motors or rotors, as heard from a ‘pro’ drone, which tends to ‘beat the air into submission’ as it moves fast.

It’s only the second one I’ve seen – the first was a long time ago, in the local park, where the guy flying it grabbed it out of the air and stuffed it into the back of the car and drove of as I walked into the park and spotted him.

I’ve heard one or two, but never caught sight of anything.

And a more interesting development in recent weeks has been the sound of electric aircraft, as in fixed wing models. Again, heard as the sound drifts over, but never anything to seen. But these are even smaller than those seen when the noisier glow engine was the normal power source.

Funny thing, I couldn’t find a stock image that looked as simple as the one I spotted, so had to fettle a similar item.

Even this one is more complex than the actual drone, which looked like little more than three straight rods in the usual ‘H’ drone format, with a thicker body (no camera slung below, so probably built-in, as most cheap commercial items tend to be), and a rotor at each corner.

There were no rotor guards, or even any sort of undercarriage apparent.

Black Drone Zoom Blur

Black Drone Zoom Blur

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Not a new picture, but not all that old either – the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire LA198 is housed. A late model Mark F21 airframe fitted with the more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine, as opposed to the Merlin, it flew with 602 City of Glasgow Auxiliary Squadron between 1947 and 1949. LA198 was eventually placed in storage, then spent three years as a gate guardian at RAF Leuchars during the 1980s, I’ve read that 602 pilots were the first part-time squadron to be equipped with Spitfires on 8 May 1939.

When I took this pic there was a sign posted nearby to the effect that this gallery had just been re-opened to the public, having been closed for some time for remedial work. I’m guessing this referred to the floor mounted displays and cases – as I took a few pics of the aircraft, I couldn’t help but notice that some years must have passed since it last saw a duster. Not a complaint in any way (it is hanging from the roof after all), merely an observation.

The idea behind the pic was to see if it was possible to get a centred and symmetrical shot from the upper balcony.

It seems it is, and the only thing that is ‘off’ is the 5-blade propeller, which has settled a few degrees away from vertical.

The original pic was surprisingly close to ideal, and needed only a few degrees of correction for converging verticals (which was the photographer’s fault, for not holding the camera properly). I should also have been a fraction further to the right, but this detail was just too fine to see in the viewfinder.

The museum staff seem to have done a VERY good job of hanging the airframe to ensure the wings are truly horizontal.

I had used the tailplane and vertical fin as my references to line this one up.

Click on the image for a slightly bigger version.

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Suspension

Just to be different/awkward (and avoid ‘just’ having the same pic as everyone else, I thought I’d point the camera at the cockpit and aerial suspension system.

It didn’t quite come off perfectly, as it was just an afterthought, but I did catch the bits I was interested in.

Maybe I’ll take some proper pics if I get back.

The cockpit and upper suspension yoke (and you can probably see the need to fly someone up there and give the canopy a once over with some polish 🙂 ).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

This view of the lower wing root suspension is even worse than the first (I almost missed the upper yoke!) as I was so busy looking at the wing root I forgot to keep the camera level.

Let’s call it intentional, and meant to portray the Spit in a dive – or maybe I’ll just level the pic, since it portrays something hanging, and just looks ‘wrong’ with those cable lying at an angle. (So, I levelled, but couldn’t crop fully and had to edit a little, or lose the periscope mirror).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

I was sure I had some earlier pics (taken at the re-opening of Kelvingrove), but guess they are on film, so not readily to hand.

The reason I wanted to dig them out was for comparison.

Stuck in my mind is the image of a number of missing screws I spotted in the pics I took on that opening day, and this new shot clearly shows that nothing is missing.

One day, I’ll get around to digitising my film pics, and will have to check this out.

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, photography, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Statue unveiled in memory of Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – Britain’s Greatest Test Pilot

I have to confess I had no idea this statue existed, let alone was complete and set to be unveiled.

I came across Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s name on numerous occasions whenever I was investigation aviation related stories, and my attention became all the greater when I learned he was a Scot from Leith.

I did raise a page to his achievements in our Wiki, but it was really only a token gesture, so I could avoid being accused of not noticing him. There’s just too much to mention.

He even met Yuri Gagarin, and learnt how Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft and parachuted to Earth separately – something denied by the Soviets, and not revealed officially until some years later.

Episode 40: April 2nd 2011: Gagarin in London : Captain Eric Brown

As well as the summary, there are a couple of short video clips featuring him.

Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown

Edinburgh Airport has unveiled a statue of Eric “Winkle” Brown, Britain’s greatest ever test pilot.

The life-sized bronze sculpture outside the terminal was funded by former pilots from the Edinburgh University Air Squadron.

Prince Andrew revealed the statue on Monday (01 July 2018).

Sir Jon Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown is someone who is synonymous with RAF Turnhouse, and is in turn a key figure in the history of what is now Edinburgh Airport.

“His achievement (sic) speak for themselves and the fact his remarkable career is still held in such high regard after all these years is testament to the man himself.”

Statue of Britain’s greatest ever test pilot unveiled

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth fun – Something for the weekend

Following Monday’s news that flat-earthers have insulted the people of Scotland by taking over a shop in Inverness, I can only do my own bit and have some fun for the rest of the week.

Not actually ‘fun’ as such (unless the idea of flat earthers is enough to tickle your funny bone), but a set of gorgeous hi-res pics shared from a recent Dragon Lady flight to the edge of space.

For those not aware, the Lockheed U-2, nicknamed Dragon Lady, is an American single jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force, previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency, and has been since the mid-1950s.

This is the panorama you get from the cockpit of a legendary U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft.

Ross Franquemont is a U-2 pilot and instructor at the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Beale Air Force Base, California. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he is also a great photographer. In fact, the incredible images you can find in this post were taken by Ross during missions flown at high altitude (something around 70,000 feet) in the Dragon Lady aircraft.

Flat earthers hate it, and of course, say any pics taken from it and showing the curvature of the Earth (and any other globe effects) are all FAKE, and manufactured for the purpose of discrediting the ‘truth’ of the flat earth.

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | | Leave a comment

A positive drone story slipped through the media censor net

In a double first, authorities are claiming the drone-assisted rescue seen in the video below is a ‘World First.

I’d say it’s a double because this must be one of the few drone stories reported by the media with any sort of positive aspect.

It’s also notable that I found this as a Guardian report, as source often mocked for not being part of the rabid media.

It would take too long to list the usual complaints and whining noises heard when drones are featured in the media, and usually grossly misrepresented, since the problem is generally not the drone as such, but some moron who has it under their ‘control’.

I sadly doubt this marks a change though, and the media will continue to home in on those who suffer from drone-phobia, and it will be business as usual for those who just want to shoot them down if they see one, or imagine they see them about to collide with their jet (but never have evidence, apart from the one ‘hit’ that turned out to be a plastic bag when inspected on the ground).

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace air display

I couldn’t think of something appropriate for the first post of 2018, although I had planned a series of relevant pics, they needed some fettling and that wasn’t finished.

Scratching around material collected but yet to be used, I remembered forgetting about a chance find from the People’s Palace, which even labelled itself.

If you’re familiar with the layout, and recognise the spot, then you’ll also appreciate why it’s so dusty, and why those items have been left where they lie.

Peoples Palace Air Display

Peoples Palace Air Display

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, council, photography | | Leave a comment

Drone rules and regs set to be ramped up with apparently more police powers

There’s a sad irony (for me at least) as I watch the development of drones (and arguing about the meaning of that word makes no difference, language changes to meet the needs of the day, get over it), having been a radio-control modeller in the past.

For pure fun, I jumped in with both feet almost the first day serious electric buggies arrived, starting with completely sealed waterproof ‘go anywhere’ chassis (which was soon stripped down to almost nothing as I didn’t go anywhere wet), that I probably doubled the intended speed of, and advanced to a 4-wheel drive beast with differentials, and souped-up with high power motor, extra cells to increase the drive voltage, and electronic speed control to dump the mechanical thing that came in the box. Sadly for the maker’s good efforts, I made it 2-wheel drive, as drifting it was a LOT more fun.

Then I got hooked on the start of decent radio-control helicopters, but that never went really well, as I was forever suffering technical issues that meant more time on the ground than in the air, but I did learn the basics, and never crashed.

The irony is that in those days, RC helis cost way more than drones, and did not fly themselves in any way. We were lucky to have one gyro, compared to the multiples fitted to drones.

Cost and ability kept the sky clear in those days.

Today, drones are relatively cheap (a fraction of the original RC helis) and need no skill to fly.

But they do need common-sense – and sadly, that’s a rare commodity.

Look no further than the issues around increasingly powerful laser pointers.

Is the instance of morons who think it is a ‘Good idea’ to park themselves near an airport rare to nil?

Sadly, looking at the news and incident reports, anything but!

The same people can go out and buy any drone they like, and fly it where they like.

I could waffle on about ‘Why we can’t have nice things”.

I could list many items I am not allowed to buy, or even OWN for that matter, having been restricted by legislation in recent years.

I could probably even point out that relatively responsible (such as me) are restricted by the law, while criminals care not one jot about the law, and carry on unaffected, fairly safe in the knowledge that they will not be caught.

That’s not my imagination or an unjustified claim. Look at gun crime for example, or even vehicle excise duty evasion, now growing even though it should be easier to catch offenders by number plate recognition, as opposed to eyeballing ‘tax discs’.

I can’t afford a decent drone, so this has no impact on me now.

But it’s just such a shame that what should be both a fun recreational item AND a superb tool for serious users, has become demonised and targeted by legislation that is really more ‘knee-jerk’ (to keep uneducated members of the public appeased) than effective regulation.

See details here: Police to be given powers to ground drones in UK crackdown

There’s also a clear media trend – maybe intentional, maybe not – to ‘talk up’ stories about civil incidents involving passenger aircraft.

This usually comprises a story about a ‘ near miss’ involving a drone a few feet from the aircraft, and reports of drones being spotted by aircrew, often at extreme distance, and so far (despite the number of claims/reports) no actual collisions, or even video to support the stories.

There’s been more evidence of UFOs near aircraft than drones.

That’s not to be misrepresented as my wanting to see such an event, but evidence and fact would be better.

As it is, these sighting have about as much credibility as UFO sightings, which aircrew generally stopped reporting once their bosses began to drop their names off the promotion ladder.

Reading the media, one could be forgiven for thinking that a drone sighting involved something more like…

Predator And Hellfire

Predator And Hellfire

Than this…

Drone

Drone

I’m just having a bit of a waffle, since I’ve largely avoided throwing anything into this particular pie.

But most of the so-called ‘power’ are largely contained in existing CAA rules, and sadly, from comments that can be found in other forums, those currently ignoring those are unlikely to change their habits, especially as they can disappear long before any police with ‘powers’ can arrive.

Fly safe if you’re lucky enough to get a serious drone for Christmas.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

One for the Spitfire fans as another is saved

For such a small aviation museum run by volunteers, the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum punches above its weight, and is an impressive performer.

It’s a long time since I’ve been there, but I have watched its steady progress online.

Slightly irritatingly, I learned that before I made my visit I had regularly spent days within sight of the museum, but did not realise it was there. This was in the days when I used to (try to) fly RC helicopters, and attended annual fly-ins held on the old airfield runway.

Oh well…

The museum’s most recent success is the restoration of a World War II Spitfire that saw service in the Battle of Britain, but crashed during a training flight from Ayr in 1941, killing the Czech pilot.

The plane was finally salvaged from of Loch Doon in 1982, following a four-year search by divers after the museum’s founders commissioned the salvage project in 1977, not long after the museum opened.

This article covers the recovery operation: The Loch Doon Spitfire is Found

Since then, it has taken 35 years of work to restore the aircraft’s bodywork – although an expert (from Yorkshire) was able to restore the fuselage, it seems ill-health prevented further work, but the museum was able to raise fund to buy wings, and allow this part of the work to be completed.

However, there remains much to be done – while the exterior has been largely completed, the interior remains as the next stage of restoration.

Via: Loch Doon Spitfire goes on display in Dumfries

Longer story appeared later: Spitfire recovered from Loch Doon put on display

Dumfries And Galloway Air Museum Loch Doon Spitfire P7540

Dumfries And Galloway Air Museum Loch Doon Spitfire P7540 – Pic via BBC News

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

The last Vulcan display at Prestwick also had a hint of drama

I couldn’t make it to the display at Ayr, but it seems the real action took place at Prestwick, as I just learnt from this video I spotted.

The following description of events is quoted from the video owner:

On the 5th of September I went across to Prestwick to watch the Scottish Airshow 2015. Primarily I wanted to see the Vulcan one last time before she’s retired in the next month or so.
Having arrived at the airport we waited for the Vulcan XH558 with great anticipation.
Once we saw him over Ayr my excitement grew even more.
He called up Prestwick tower to do a flyover the airfield , then make a right hand turn to then land on runway 30.
However after he made that turn things seemed to go wrong. Rather than report final he then did a second flyover , and started entering orbits to the north of the airfield.
After it became clear he was having a nosewheel gear issue , a Spitfire of the BBMF called up and asked if there was anyway he could help by giving the vulcan an inspection from underneath the aircraft.
Once they had determined the Vulcans speed the spitfire confirmed that his nosewheel was not extended fully and that there was nothing blocking it from locking into place.
Following this the Vulcan entered into some very aggressive yawing , both left and right in an attempt to free whatever was holding the nosewheel back from extending and locking.
After some time they were successful and initiated a landing.
We were all waiting with bated breath, not knowing whether or not it had indeed fully locked into place.
Thankfully the landing went well, and as you can hear at the end of the video was great relief that everything had gone so well.
Praise must also go to the Spitfire pilot for taking the initiative in helping the crew of the Vulcan resolve the issue.

That brings back memories of the Prestwick Air Show (at the airport then) which had the drama of a World War II aircraft suffering a similar stuck undercarriage, which refused to be bumped loose, and eventually had to be ditched and lost in the sea off Turnberry, which was chosen as the beat way to ensure no other damage, and safe recovery of the pilot.

Thank goodness the Vulcan trip to Scotland did not end in similar fashion – although I suspect they might have ultimately dumped fuel and done a belly landing with the larger aircraft. This is the procedure I’ve seen in the past, on American aircraft of the same size in recent years.

It seems the crew would have been aware of the problem before arriving back at the airport.

Looking at this recording of the full display, it includes views of the usual lowering and raising of the undercarriage for some of the passes, and while I can’t be categoric of the full sequence having been captured, it is clear that the nosewheel is not fully forward in any of the shots:

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, military | , , | 2 Comments

2015 Prestwick air show will be last chance to see the Vulcan fly

Britain’s last remaining flying V bomber, the Avro Vulcan, will be making it’s farewell visit to Scotland at the 2015 Scottish Airshow on 5th and 6th September.

As seen last year (2014):

For those not aware, XH558 returned to the air a few years ago, but was always on borrowed time as its components were nearing the end of their rated lives, and once reached, there were no new parts or spares left that would be airworthy, so the aircraft’s flying days were always numbered.

September 5th and 6th really are the last days to ever see this aircraft in Scottish skies.

The organisers of the Scottish Airshow have secured this unique aircraft and it will fly at beach front Ayr on Saturday 5th September then land at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. It will be the highlight of the Sunday Aircraft Exhibition where members of the public will be able to see it for one last time and even get up close to take photographs or talk to the flight crew.

Check here for any updates or changes closer to the event:

Scottish Airshow – Prestwick/Ayr 5th & 6th September 2015 | The Scottish Airshow – Prestwick International Airport

See also the Vulcan’s own web site for other opportunities if you are travelling around the country:

Displays / Tours – Vulcan To The Sky

Click on the image below to see a gallery of Vulcan images from over the years, assembled by those nice people at Gizmodo:

Vulcan Farewell

Vulcan Farewell from Gizmodo

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War | , , , | Leave a comment

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