Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Down at Fraggle Rock

It has been beautiful recently in Anglesey and as today was typical I decided to drive over to RAF Valley to see the Hawks flying. I arrived at the airfield just as two Hawks took off together from the main runway. Very soon I parked my car at the end of the runway near an outcrop of rock where all the enthusiasts gather. The pilots of RAF Valley refer to this position as Fragle Rock and we are obviously the fraggle!

As soon as I arrived all activity ceased and I wondered if I had picked a bad day. I decided I woul give it five more minutes before leaving. It turned out to be a good decision as very soon the action started. One or two Hawks started engines and taxied away from the training area to the head of the runway. Gradually the take offs began and the tower was kept very busy.

There were double an treble take offs in formation with aircraft peeling off to land a few minutes later. Suddenly there were many Hawks landing and taking off. Then one aircraft took off and climbed only a short way before executing a full roll. Next the Hawk was racing back to us and performing all sorts of aerobatics. At one point it turned over the sea and returned across the runway alignment about fifty feet high upside down! I felt privileged to be there, watching the incredible display.

A minute after the aircraft landed another took off and began to do exactly the same routine as the first aircraft. I had gone there expecting to see a few take offs and landings and ende up being treated to a display for which I should normally have to pay.

By the way, the photo at the head of this blog was taken by the RAF Valley Station Chaplain (Padre) when I visited the base in October last year. The guy standing by the Hawk is no pilot - it is me!

But it is still true to say that regular watchers at Fraggle Rock will see a variety of aircraft onb most days. There are always different aircraft visiting the base and sometimes you can get lucky and see the Red Arrows there. As RAF Valley has the only Hawk simulator the Red Arrows are regular visitors for experience in the simulator. When I was on the base last year there were 3 Red Arrows aircraft on the tarmac. As the Padre told me last year, it is the busiest RAF Station This is why the RAF has another airfield at Mona, a few miles away, that it uses for practice landings and take offs (circuits and bumps in RAF lingo!) In a few weeks there will be civilian flights to and from Cardiff as the new Anglesey Airport opens.


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