Wilderness grandstands at Farnborough airshow
A number of Wilderness boats trailed to the landlocked Basingstoke canal in the week leading up to the public viewing of the Farnborough air show to act as mobile grandstands at the end of the runway.
The canal is landlocked at present due to the continued closure of the Deepcut and Brookwood flights (latest here) so the only boats already on the top Hampshire or Mytchett pounds or those that can trail there, can enjoy this section of this beautiful canal OR view this major flying event from their boats. This year due to the significant rainfall, the normally water restricted canal is full to the brim, with water overflowing the two weirs we saw. This is also restricting the air draft at the Fleet – Reading road and Norris Hill road bridges to around 5′ 10″. It’s a shame the locks weren’t open as they could have had a lot of visiting boats given they also had plenty of water for a change.
Boats Owl and Pussy Cat and Midge, which were on their home waters, were joined by Toad Hall, Y-Knot and Windrush and those were joined by the crews of Snapdragon, Arwyn and Tophyl of Taunton on flying visits by car. Other boats had hoped to attend but were either concerned about the air draft limit or had problems due to the weather/rain/water levels on other rivers.
Those that did attend had poor weather on the Friday and Saturday but were still treated to some spectacular flying by skilled pilots. Saturday was very still, grey and overcast with showers with the clouds gradually lifting towards the end of the afternoon. The still air meant that planes were taking off and landing in both directions. But the low cloud also meant that all pilots were having to do low-level displays with the Red Arrows and Breitling Wind Walkers and the Breitling Jet team also putting on their low-level displays. A lump in the throat moment was the Battle of Britain flight, unfortunately without the Hurricane, passing just over our heads to land but a couple of heart in the mouth moments were the Airbus A380 display. How did the pilot throw such a large aircraft around like that. It also came into land just over our heads and we felt the rush of its wind afterwards. And finally the Vulcan display, great to see this still flying.
Sunday was much better weather-wise, with a high or no cloud ceiling so all the pilots made use of the extra space, we also had the Falcons parachute display team and a Tornado take off and attack simulation on the airfield. The Typhoon, Tornados, F18 and Korean jet fighters were the noisiest planes and did some spectacular tricks, but the civilian solo and group displays also chucked their aircraft around with some interesting controlled or were they uncontrolled manoeuvres.
Whilst the Wilderness boaters may try their best to do formation displays at boat festivals, they will never now quite match up to the displays of these pilots in their flying machines.
A big thank you to David and Doreen Ward for their hospitality both during the display and afterwards.
A selection of pictures from the event:
Finally we find something you cannot do with a Wilderness, play cricket on the roof!! Here a hire boat at the event with a gentle game of cricket being held on the roof during a lull in the flying display.
And here is a gallery, mostly of flying pictures this time: