Saturday 1st June saw the second outing in the BNDCC 2013 Summer calendar.
A smaller but not less enthusiastic group of 15 members gathered to visit The Ulster Aviation Society at RAF Long Kesh. The group met in the societies home, a WWII hangar which was the perfect setting for a wonderfully eclectic collection of Aircraft associated with Northern Ireland heritage. One of the pinnacles in the heart of the aviation industry.
After tea and scones, arranged and supplied by Jack (whom I will take this moment now, to thank once again, for a refreshing start for our day ahead). We were given an introduction to the society and a few H&S rules. The group was split into 3 smaller groups of 5 members and headed off in different direction, to discover all the exhibits and displays contained in a historical but working environment.
The dedication and commitment from the U.A.S. members was self-evident and abundant. The restoration process for each plane explained with enthusiastic admiration to his fellow members and made sure those members were pointed out in recognition for their achievements, a passion that mirrors our own club in its dedication and endless talent it possesses.
The heritage of aviation, contained in the hangar, ranged from Wessex and Alouette Helicopters to Canberra, Shorts Tuscano, Shorts 330, Vampire, Seahawks, Buccaneer and WWII Wildcat which was salvaged from Portmore Lough.
Our visit also took us through history to rooms of memorabilia, Air raid sirens, HQ control rooms and bunkers giving us a glimpse into life during the world wars, even to original tinned food of the day. With maps of recovery/crash sites in N.I. a wonderful array of equipment and clothing to make the experience a rich and full one.
An experience that revealed the bravery of the crew was imprinted in the fabric of the surrounding metal skin, two of which displayed the cramped, terrifying and noisy conditions the men had the endure to fulfil their duty in the face of death. One, in a glass enclosure, would sit on the outside of the plane, spinning and rotating a spray of bullets on the enemy. A noise that left the ears permanently damaged.
The other in the nose cone of the plane, confined in a cramped space with panels of buttons and dials, with 2 small windows and a circular site to observe the location below, travelling at hundreds of miles per hour. Both left us mesmerized with admiration.
As planned we were then given the rest of our time recording and creating an image that had something a little special. Somewhat being made difficult with the array of aircraft in the same area, which pushed all our photographic skills to the max. With this, for Henry, May and I, it offered a photographic opportunity of a different kind. With the Societie’s official photographer, asking us to pose for an image for the website and monthly publication. (Shirley will be proud of us!)
I cannot end without expressing our thanks to the members of the Society and Alan Hartley for arranging the visit to Ulster Aviation Society. A must visit! to those members who couldn’t make it on Saturday. It is a challenging location but well worth the experience.