Saturday, 30 July 2011

The 2010 Coventry Fly-In

Back in September 2010, Coventry airport hosted a 'fly-in', basically an airshow, in support of help for heroes. Among the aircraft present were the Vulcan, a Tornado, and many of the Airbase collection including venoms, the dragon rapide, DC-3s, the list goes on. These are some of the pictures and videos I took on that day:
Classic flights' Avro Anson climbs out

An Air Atlantique Douglas DC-3 (with a strange mod at the front?)

Another Atlantique Dakota

Classic Flights' DeHavilland Heron in Jersey Airlines livery

The Nimrod

'Sybille' the Dragon Rapide

A Vampire

Below is a video of the fly-in, including the Tornado and Vulcan departures:

Hopefully there are plans for another fly-in, as it seemed to be a great success!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

BHX-BHD-BHX Trip Report (2010)

Like my previous trip report (Dublin in 2009), this isn't a full one as it's over a year ago now. This was, again, for my annual birthday daytrip, and was my first time with Flybe and on the Embraer E-Jets.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC)
Flybe Embraer 195 G-FBEG

Being my first flight alone (well, with a friend) I was naturally very excited. We arrived at BHX early and checked in using the fantastic self-service machines, before heading up to the Terminal 2 departure lounge. The two terminals are now merged, which is probably a good thing if you want a good range of shops: they are limited somewhat in the T2 building. But, shops were not high on the agenda for me: we were off to Belfast!
Here's a video of the flight out:
 Flight BE402 went like clockwork, arrving on time. For years I'd been flying on 737's and nothing else, to then fly on an E-Jet was wonderful: they're quieter, comfier (that is down to the airline though), and the windows are bigger too!

George Best Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC)
 To get the cheapest fares and also to fly the E-Jet both ways, we'd booked a return flight (BE409) in the afternoon, leaving only a few hours free. There wasn't really enough time to go into Belfast itself so instead we stayed around the airport. The first port of call? Ikea of course! (Watch the inbound flight vid, you'll spot Ikea just before touchdown).

The Ikea car park gives very good views of the airfield at Belfast City:
 G-FBEG backtracking along RWY 04 to depart off 22.

 The apron at BHD, dominated by Flybe with a bmi A319 at the back preparing for the return to Heathrow.

A Ryanair 737-800 backtracking with the Harland and Wolff shipyard behind.

The Bombardier factory, where the new composite wings for the Bombardier C-Series are currently being constructed and tested. 

Sadly we couldn't stay all day (never thought I'd say that about an Ikea car park...) and so we returned to the terminal for BE409 back home.

Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC) to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) 
Flybe Embraer 195 G-FBEK
Belfast-City was a nice little airport I found, not very big but fine for internal flights (most of them are from BHD) as the minimum check-in time is 30 minutes before.

The flight back was fairly turbulent, at the time the worst I'd been in and still the second worst today.  But the excellent E-Jet made up for any discomfort, it truly is a remarkable aircraft. If all new aircraft are like this or better, I really can't wait to see what the C-Series, 787, A350 and other new types are like in terms of passenger comfort. 
And the video:
While on approach to RWY33 I took some pictures of Kenilworth from the air, see  below. 

And that concluded my first two flights 'alone'. My experience with Flybe and the E-Jets on that day has meant that all my subsequent flight have been with them too. (Not counting PA28's, of course... stay tuned for some light aircraft action!)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Kenilworth from the air

Kenilworth, where I live, happens to lie just to the east of Birmingham's Runway 33 ILS approach path. This means good views of aircraft from the ground, and of course, of Kenilworth from the air!

The following were taken either from a Flybe Embraer 195 returning from a daytrip to Belfast or from a Flybe Dash 8 returning from Perpignan (both trips will be reviewed on here in the future):

Although hazy, this picture is best I have for showing the majority of the town, as in following attempts (returning from Perpignan) the cloud was a problem. The school is visible in the center at the top.
The castle! This was on full zoom so it's a bit blurry, 2500 feet doesn't sound like much but it's actually a long way away!
Northwest of the last picture, with the Abbey Fields on the right.
 And this is the good one! Taken from a Dash 8, the cloud parted in just the right place to reveal Kenilworth below...

Click on the pics for bigger versions! If you live in Kenilworth, try to spot your house ;)

On a completely different topic, I saw my first funnel cloud today! There will be more weathery things to come...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Emirates in the fog (and coming soon...)

Taken at BHX in December 2010, an Emirates 777-300ER lands in fog, complete with very visible contrails:
 Coming soon on Midland Skies:
  • Flybe to Perpignan on the Dash 8! A 'holiday' report
  • Kenilworth from the air
  • Some weather-based things to come...
  • BHX-Belfast trip report
  • The 2010 Coventry Fly-in
  • East Midlands, Stansted, Carcassonne and Ryanair!
  • Any news or events
On the topic of news,  Flybe have delayed the entry-into-service of their new Embraer 175 again. More information here:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Good food on board an aircraft? It's the DC-6 Diner!

When I first heard about this, it was a must-see. A converted Douglas DC-6 next to the Airbase site, where you can have lunch or dinner inside a pretty much intact aircraft. And it did not disappoint!
The 'cabin' has been redecorated and is furnished like a restaurant, but with the large windows, wingview and open cockpit you're constantly aware you're on a plane. The whole aircraft wobbles slightly as people walk up and down, after all, the restaurant is on its own undercarriage!
There are so many little quirks on this DC-6 diner: like the cargo door at the front being clearly visible, and the pictures hung up, most of which (if not all) show this actual aircraft, G-SIXC which was built in 1958.
So, as it is a 'diner', I suppose I better talk about the food:
 Not many places do a 16oz T-bone steak, and nowhere else does it on a plane I bet! The food is really good, it's worth a visit even if the fact it's a plane doesn't interest you.
It's now my favorite place to eat. By far. With this next to the Airbase, and with the Midland Air museum up the road, Coventry Airport is becoming a real day out and an attraction for people all over the country. If it isn't, it should be.

Go to Coventry Airport everyone!

Here's the DC-6 Diner site: 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A living museum: Airbase

So, 2 years after the trip described in my previous post, the other day I went with a friend to Airbase! It's all different now, however. It's an organized display of classic aircraft, complete with cafe, shop, and access to some of the aircraft, with even a flight or two. And for an air "museum", it's absolutely fantastic!

It's a "living museum", that is all the aircraft are either airworthy or nearly airworthy, and it makes for a unique experience.
 The aircraft are kept in one of two hangers or outside, in the main hangar there were many great old aircraft, a Dragon Rapide, Avro Anson, Venoms, a Twin Pioneer and more...

In the other hangar (which was blocked off, it appears to be the maintainence hangar), were other aircraft including the recently acquired Gloster Meteor. Outside, there was a DeHavilland Heron, a DC-3, a DC-6, a Canberra, and 2 aircraft that were open that day: a Nimrod and a Shackleton.
The Nimrod was, for me, particularly interesting (see cockpit above) as everything was still in working order, and most of the military fittings were still in place. Not that anyone would be able to work out how to start the engines, so really it's OK having everything live!
The Shackleton is also 'alive', in fact it had an engine run the day before. (Shackleton images below)
 So what do I think of the overall Airbase experience? It's worth every penny. The ability to wander around such a large collection of old but operational aircraft is unique, this combined with some interesting talks with people on board and the offer of flights in these beauties, makes Airbase a must-see, for aviation enthusiasts and novices alike.

Later in the week I'll have a report from the DC-6 Diner next to the Airbase...
Need I say more?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Before it was Airbase: "A blast from the past"

In August 2009, classic flight at Coventry opened their doors for visitors to come and have a look around. Naturally I jumped at the chance! Recently, classic flight have been busy setting up "Airbase", and there will be more about that soon. But anyway, here's my mini photo report from that day...

 One of Classic Flights DC-3 Dakotas. This example is (I believe) set up to be a firefighting aircraft?

If not, what are these tanks inside it? Extra fuel for increased range? (Edit: they're actually tanks full of oil-dispersing chemicals for oil-slick clean-ups)

A DeHavilland Heron in "Jersey Airlines" livery, in maintenance. 

A Percival Prentice, a Royal Air Force trainer used after WW2

An Avro Anson

Not part of the classic flight fleet but it was on the same apron! An Atlantic Airlines Bae ATP, one of many on the airfield.

An apron overview. Note the Lockheed Electra in the background.

The DC-3 again, complete with snazzy car (A Jaguar e-type apparently). Together it's like a scene out a Bond movie!

And a DeHavilland Dragon Rapide, getting ready for a pleasure flight.

There will be a lot more Coventry/AirBase stuff coming in the next week so stay tuned! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

BHX-DUB-BHX Trip Report (2009)

This isn't a full trip report as It's a while ago now, but I'll fill in as much detail as I can! There are plenty of pictures though.

In April 2009, we booked my first ever Birthday flight, to Dublin from Birmingham with Aer Lingus. At the time, suprisingly, Aer Lingus were cheaper than Ryanair, and so we booked with the Irish flag carrier, on Airbus A320's both ways.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Dublin (DUB/EIDW)
Aer Lingus Airbus A320 EI-???
 Upon arrival at BHX early in the morning, we checked in normally (i.e. not self-service or on-line) and proceeded to the Terminal 1 departure lounge, which was seperate to T2 back then. The international pier was still under construction, too. About half an hour before the flight, it started to rain, a shower it seemed. But by the sound on the metal roof, it was apparently was hail... and a quick check looking out over the 70's and 80's stands and out toward Sheldon and Birmingham showed: a thunderstorm. Great. Sure enough, this odd early morning (and early season) storm delayed our arriving A320 by 30 minutes as the storm was moving pretty much directly over the field. In fact, an arriving bmi Regional Embraer 145 was hit by lightning about 15 minutes before our green machine arrived.
My Mum was having a fit about the prospect of flying in a thunderstorm! However, it cleared as fast as it had come, and soon we were onboard, right at the front (row 2 or 3, I can't remember). A bit delayed, we took off, on my 31st sector, 9th A320 flight and first with Aer Lingus.
The flight never left the cloud despite cruising at FL250 (25,000ft). As such, the cumulonimbus made it a bumpy ride, all the way to Dublin, where, surprise surprise, it was raining!

The day in Dublin involved wandering around getting soaked. And going in pubs. I'm told this is a good representation of Dublin?
The river Liffey, Temple Bar, diving in and out pubs... this caught my eye in one pub:
Mmmmmm, lovely! Soon It was time to head back to the airport for our evening flight back.

Dublin (DUB/EIDW)  to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB)
Aer Lingus Airbus A320 EI-EDS
After checking in and exploring the HUGE departure lounge (compared to Birmingham, anyway), EI-EDS arrived at our gate. It was only built in 2008, the year before.
 A very nice wingview! The aircraft looked like it had a shiny new paint job, but it had probably just been cleaned by all the rain....
 The return flight, my 32nd Sector, and 10th A320, started off turbulent but the second half was perfectly smooth, and after a cruising altitude of 26,000ft we made the approach to BHX's Runway 15, touching down on a hazy and warm spring evening.
 Overall, Aer Lingus were good, cheap enough and the service was also good for a short hop like this. If I was going to Dublin again, they'd be my choice over... "the competitor"... any day!

Thanks for reading, more bits and bobs 'from the archive' coming soon!