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RAF Coningsby Enthusiasts Day 2012 (by David Thompson, Stuart Reid & Chris Smith)

The Cleveland Aviation Society were invited to attend the RAF Coningsby Enthusiasts Day held every two years, it gives aircraft and military enthusiasts a rare opportunity to access and (very) freely walk around not just an active Royal Air Force station, but arguably the United Kingdom's primary Royal Air Force station.

Just one stop was made on the way down and that was to Gamston. At the time of morning we called in (pre-9am) it's very quiet here but the visit was still a satisfying one.

Retford Gamston Airport (EGNE)

G-AVYT Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow Private  
G-BEOK Reims Cessna F150M KPOW Ltd  
G-BNPY Cessna 152 Private  
G-BRPV Cessna 152 Eastern Air Executive Ltd  
G-BTVX Cessna 152 The Flight Centre 2010 Ltd  
G-CCHA Diamond DA40D Diamond Star Diamond Hire UK Ltd  
G-CTCG Diamond DA42 Twin Star Royce Marshall and Co Noted in a hangar with a Beech 90 King Air
G-FOFO Robinson R44 Raven II Kuki Helicopter Sales Ltd  
G-PNIX Reims Cessna FRA150L Aerobat Dukeries Aviation  
N7NP MD Helicopters 369E Corporate  

CAS had a few places to spare which they kindly offered to the DTV Movements website updaters, so Stuart and Chris joined David with Chris taking on the driving responsibilities (although on the way back he frequently nearly joined David and Stuart and had a kip, much to their frustration and that of other drivers!!). When we got there we met up briefly with a few other CAS members and noticed quite a few familiar faces from other parts of the country as well. Once we passed through the very slow screening tent though it was every man and woman for themselves.

RAF Coningsby (QCY / EGXC)

Proceedings began with a walk around the static display located on the main ramp, with strategically placed air stairs to allow for greater photos.

Static Display

G-FRAW Dassault Falcon 20C Cobham Aviation Services  
G-MERF Grob G115A Private  
G-PUPP Beagle B121 Pup II Private  
MK356/UF-Q Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc Battle of Britain Memorial Flight  
XX158/158 Hawker Siddeley Hawk T1A Royal Air Force 208(R) Squadron
ZA557/048 Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force Was 13 Squadron (disbanded)
ZJ803/BA Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T1 Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ947/AH Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 17(R) TES
ZK020/K BAe Systems Hawk T2 Royal Air Force 4(R) Squadron - 100 years special c/s
ZK305/DE Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 11(F) Squadron
ZK309/QO-P Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 3(F) Squadron
ZK451/K Raytheon B200 Super King Air Royal Air Force 45(R) Squadron, named "Aurora"

Static display line-up - David Thompson

G-FRAW - Dassault Falcon 20C - Cobham Aviation Services - David Thompson

MK356/UF-Q - Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - David Thompson

ZA557/048 - Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 - Royal Air Force - David Thompson

ZJ803/BA - Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 - Royal Air Force - David Thompson

Moving on, next there was a few stalls and burger vans etc, with a Hunter forward fuselage section, Lightning gate guardian, a mock-up Lightning cockpit and a Typhoon outside a hangar.

XE597 Hawker Hunter FGA9 Wolverhampton Aviation Group Forward fuselage only
XP765/A English Electric Lightning F6 Royal Air Force Really XS897, belly tank added to look like an F3!
ZJ806/BE Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T1 Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
  English Electric Lightning Private Wooden cockpit simulator

XP765/A - English Electric Lightning F6 - Royal Air Force - David Thompson

We were just about to glance over the various stalls, when a hangar was opened to tow ZJ806 in, causing a scramble to get the eight frames inside.

29(R) Squadron Hangar

ZJ807/BF Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ812/BK Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ813/BL Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ815/BN Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ910/BV Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ911/BZ Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZK307/BU Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZK328/BS Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron

Myself and Stuart grabbed a bite to eat at this point, before making our way over to the two coaches that were providing a gate guardian tour. The coach initially took us to the entrance of the base where the following were found and photographed.

XT891/P McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR2 Royal Air Force Gate guardian
ZE760/AP Panavia PA-200 Tornado F3 Royal Air Force Gate guardian

Next we went across to get the other two gate guards located amongst the many HAS buildings to the south of the runway, firstly 11(F) squadrons to the east, then 3(F) squadrons to the west.

11(F) Squadron HAS (all 11(F) squadron unless stated)

XR753/XI English Electric Lightning F6 Royal Air Force 11(F) Squadron gate guardian
ZJ801/BJ Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZJ808/DW Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 Royal Air Force  
ZJ912/AB Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 17(R) TES
ZJ923/DM Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZJ924/DD Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZJ935/DJ Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZK300/DG Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZK306/BT Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 29(R) Squadron
ZK323/DN Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZK332/AI Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 17(R) TES

3(F) Squadron HAS (all 3(F) squadron unless stated)

XW924/G Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3 Royal Air Force 3(F) Squadron gate guardian
ZJ802/QO-B Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon T3 Royal Air Force  
ZJ913/QO-M Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZJ937/QO-W Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  
ZJ941/QO-J Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force  

The coaches then dropped us back off at the main ramp, but not before teasing us by driving past a hangar with an unidentifiable Tornado GR4 visible inside, we later learned that this is the 41(R) TES hangar, with four-five airframes in it, at this point Chris tried to buy, bribe, blackmail and beat his way in, all to no avail, so he decided it would be worth the consequences to just sneak over before Stuart reeled him in!

Once back at the main ramp, we were booked on the 1340 pilots briefing, which was a 20-30 minute talk by a Typhoon pilot about what they do and how they do it, but they started early at 1330, we were still getting off the coach at that point, a member of staff did offer to get us in, but we chose to give it a miss and instead try to chase up an overflight we saw from the coach:

(60-0353) Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker United States Air Force North - Mildenhall as QID89
       

The KC-135 came from the North, which meant I should have had it on my SBS, when I got home and had a look, 60-0353 was the only possible candidate.

The flying display had began earlier with a Sea Fury doing all kinds of crazy sh*t as we were waiting for the coach to arrive for the gate guardians tour. The bulk of the flying display began at this point when a Tornado was seen flying down the approach, as it began an overshoot, no-one had noticed a second example flying the opposite approach, so it was a great thrill when they passed with just feet to spare! One continued to display for about 10-15 minutes whilst the other one had disappeared, with a lot of people cautiously looking out for it in all directions thinking it was lurking somewhere near with the intention of frightening everyone half to death. The weather took a turn for the worse so the Tornado called it a day and landed, with his mate rejoining him. This marked the end of the day as the Spitfire due to display was towed back into the BBMF hangar. An amusing sight was seeing everyone run for cover in the rain whilst the owner of the Hunter fuselage sat inside with the canopy closed looking rather pleased with himself!

It was a great disappointment to learn we missed a very special Tornado GR4, ZA398 "Shiny Two" of 2 Squadron, in a special 100 years livery. Also missed was a 100 Squadron Hawk and Typhoon ZJ936 which also wears a 100 years livery. With the exception of the Typhoon which departed early AM, the majority of people must have missed the others as most had either already left or were leaving as we were!!

Flying Display

G-RNHF Hawker Sea Fury T20 Royal Navy Historic Flight Marked VX281/120 VL
ZA461/026/XV Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force  
ZA492/033 Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force  
ZA601/066 Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force 617 Squadron - also marked AJG
ZD744/092 Panavia PA-200 Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force  

Other aircraft noted throughout the day

EN398/JE-J Supermarine Spitfire HF IXe Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Mock-up only
ZA947 Douglas C-47A Dakota III Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Noted outside BBMF hangar
ZK319/EW Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 6 Squadron
ZK333/EH Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 6 Squadron
ZK334/EC Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon FGR4 Royal Air Force 6 Squadron

On the way home, we called into the Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre to look at the Jet Provost and Vampire here, before heading to a closed RAF Barkston Heath, although we managed to get a Canberra on the fire dump, then finally it was to RAF Cranwell, again closed however, but we did nail another Jet Provost and Dominie. Due to the deteriorating weather conditions, a tentatively talked about visit to Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield was scrapped. I dropped David and Stuart back off at DTVA to find one last catch for the day in the form of AS355 Twin Squirrel G-VVBA.

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre

XE946 De Havilland DH115 Vampire T11 Royal Air Force Cockpit only
XP556 BAC Jet Provost T4 Royal Air Force  

RAF Barkston Heath (EGYE)

WT339 English Electric Canberra B(I)8 Royal Air Force On fire dump - very poor state
       

RAF Cranwell (EGYD)

XS710/O Hawker Siddeley Dominie T1 Royal Air Force On fire dump - very poor state
XW353/3 BAC Jet Provost T5A Royal Air Force Gate guardian

Durham Tees Valley Airport (MME / EGNV)

G-VVBA Aerospatiale AS355F2 Twin Squirrel Hinde Holdings Ltd  
       

Thanks for reading if you got this far, some photo links below.

Stuart Reid photos

Chris Smith photos

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