On Friday 6 September I finally completed something that I’d always wanted to do, land an aircraft that I was flying myself on the 3 kilometres of tarmac at RAF Fairford.
My first experience of landing at the airbase was in July 2003 on board a British Airways Boeing 747-400, with my father as co-pilot. We’d flown from Heathrow as the BA charity charter flight that operated back in those days; waking up at 4am and driving 90 minutes to Heathrow and finally getting home at gone 11pm (see our departure below).
Fast forward 12 years and I was lucky to fly into Fairford on-board an RAF Voyager from Brize Norton. This time I got closer to the action by sitting on the jump seat. I did this as part of work as we (AirTanker) were sponsoring various aspects of the event that year.
Back to 2019 and I was lucky enough to be allowed to fly into the base for their 75th anniversary celebrations. RAF Fairford opened in January 1944 in preparation for the D-Day invasion plans and was the launch base for hundreds of paratroopers and other airborne units in gliders.
A number of civilian aircraft were in invited to attend, including a Chipmunk, Stearman, Auster, Super Cub and Hornet Moth. We were also treated to a couple of United States Air Force heavy bombers, which were tugged into position at either end of our line of aircraft. These were a Barksdale Air Force Base B-52H and the star of the event, a B-2A Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base.
I picked the earliest arrival slot to allow me to get to work in time, and managed to leave after a full day at work thanks to the tower staying open. I filmed the flight on my GoPro in 4k but was really annoyed when I realised that my intercom recording (through my phone) had ended when I booted up SkyDemon!
Therefore I’ve added a few sad looking captions (I don’t have the time to create a nicely polished video at the moment).