2020 certainly wasn’t the year that we were hoping for, and of course we were very much restricted this year by the ever-changing COVID rules in place. While we were very limited in our operation, we were however lucky enough to be able to fly WZ507 a number of times throughout the year. Having flown in January, the Vampire then spent most of the first half of the year in the hangar, before resuming operations in June as the national restrictions were eased.
As restrictions continued to be eased through the summer, we flew a number of local sorties from Coventry. Late September marked the 100th Anniversary of the de Havilland Aircraft Company, and a plan was put together to fittingly mark the occasion by flying the Vampire to Wales for a flight around the well-known “Mach Loop” – a system of picturesque valleys between Dolgellau and Machynlleth often used for military aviation training. On the 26th September, the stars aligned and we had good weather at Coventry, as well as in Snowdonia, and that afternoon the unique sound of the Vampire was heard in Wales once again. Thanks go to the controllers at Birmingham for their help in planning a direct return to Coventry through their zone.
October was the month that we held another of our evening photographic events, and this year we teamed up with the Shackleton Aviation Group. Testament to the strong support and enthusiasm for vintage aircraft, places for the event sold out within 48 hours! Before the event started, a unique opportunity to mark de Havilland’s centenary year presented itself as a Chipmunk and Gypsy Moth were also out on the apron, and with many thanks to their respective owners – we were able to line the aircraft up. Not only that, but as the Chipmunk returned to its Old Warden base, we put together a formation of de Havilland Vampire and Chipmunk for a short Air-to-Air photoshoot.
As the Vampire returned to Coventry, a small number of photographers and enthusiasts arrived at the airport for our evening event. The Shackleton fired up its Griffon engines before sunset, followed shortly after by the much anticipated start of the Vampire’s Goblin engine in the dark, before a short taxy to a parking position near to a puddle to allow for some different photographs to be captured.
And finally, to bring to a close 2020, on the 30th December – after a break in the dark and dismal conditions of the previous days, we took the opportunity to fly a formation sortie with our friends from Swords Aviation in their combat veteran Jet Provost T.52, over the Leicestershire area.
Below is a video from that flight, including views of Bruntingthorpe and of our arrival back into Coventry.
We have a lot of exciting plans for what we hope will be a much better year in 2021. More details on those when we can!
Happy New Year!