Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Out for an early morning sortie on the flight simulator - flying as wing man in an English Electric Lightning from RAF Binbrook in the 1970's.  This is the only Mach 2 fighter aircraft (twice the speed of sound) that was entirely British built and it has to be flown every inch of the way.
At  600 knots, keeping position requires acute concentration, as well as keeping an eye on the fuel gauges.  The "Frightening" has only enough fuel for 45 minutes of flight and it is used up so quickly that it alters the balance of the aircraft, needing to re-trim the flight every few seconds.  I would hate to have to fly the real thing every day - it would frey my nerves.
In 1975, I had a go in the RAF Lightning simulator at RAF Binbrook, on the 11 Squadron rota.  It was driven by an ICL 1400 computer with 512K of memory (Less processing power than a modern mobile phone) and hooked up to a real Lightning nose section on hydraulic rams.  That was fun!  The modern simulator has better visuals, but lacks the kick of a crash when you land 100 feet above the runway.
Afterwards, we went for a walk in the local woods at Hem Heath.  I was intrigued by the contrast of objects in the bright sunlight of the day.  Here, tall Ash Tree trunks stand out against the forest backdrop.
These Sycamore leaves cast shadows on a nearby Beech Tree in the bright sunlight of the mid-morning.
On the other side of the woods, near the Wedgwood Factory and Museum, a field of ragwort contrasts vividly with the forest behind.

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