Thread: The VC 10
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Old 9th Aug 2009, 22:15   #159 (permalink)
Red Spitfire Driver
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Somewhere in Southern England
Posts: 48
Ref White Waltham Flypast - Saturday

I was a passenger on that flight!

G-ARVM was the training aircraft based at Prestwick. In 1977 I was a trainee ATCO on approach and noticed a flight plan on 'VM to EGVY (White Waltham). So I rang Flight Clearance and told them about the incorrect destination! They informed me that the flight plan was correct and it was indeed going to White Waltham - but not for a landing!!
So I asked if there were any spare seats - yep said the Captain, 'Get yourself to the apron'. So I was granted an 'Early Go' and got a lift to the apron in the ATC vehicle.
A group of us boarded the aircraft and were ushered into an almost empty cabin. There was just a 'pod' of a few seats (10 or 15 I think), and told to make ourselves comfortable.
We went Airways (Amber 1 - Ahh nostalgia), with a few dutch rolls on the way. We all visited the flight deck and chatted with the crew and the trainee pilots that were on board.
'VM left controlled airspace at WOD, and was too early for our slot to open the airshow at White Waltham.
The Captain announced that he 'had a friend playing cricket nearby', so we went off low level 2,500ft looking for a cricket match! Apparently he found the village and the cricket team were treated to a flypast, anyone know where that was?
We then continued to Twyford to follow the railway line to White Waltham. At that time the airfield was inside the London Control Zone, so we had to fly up the 'free-lane' and comply with the level restrictions. Was that (not above)1,250ft?
We did our flypast, just as Prince Charles was declaring the airshow open. In fact that evening it was on the national news with Prince Charles saying 'I declare this airshow - the rest being drowned out by the sound of a VC10 !!'
After that we flew back up the free lane and rejoined controlled airspace at WOD, via the Ambers back to Prestwick.
On the way back we discussed with the crew the flypast. I asked if the captain had meant to do a 'touch and go', he replied 'No, as the wheels were up!' It certainly looked close to the ground from inside!
The return was quite leisurely with just a few more dutch rolls.
I will always remember the galley curtains flying across from one side of the aisle to the other, almost horizontal. We then managed a few 'toasted sandwiches'.
On return to Prestwick 'VM then went straight into the circuit.
Unfortunately the 'toasties' and the 'dutch rolls' took their toll on my stomach, so the Captain agreed to do a 'full stop' and return to the apron to drop me, and those other passengers that didn't want to spend some hours 'circuit bashing'.
So that is the full story of the Saturday flypast at White Waltham.

Thank you G-ARVM, a most memorable flight.

JB (less than 9 months from retirement)!

PS According to A Little VC10derness the crew were;
Captain A J Smith
F/O A Harkness
E/O T Snell

Last edited by Red Spitfire Driver; 9th Aug 2009 at 22:38.
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