View Full Version : Blue note ....

9th Jun 2002, 10:07
Can someone please explain what is meant by the term 'blue note'. Often used when referring to the Hawker Hunter. I've experienced the 'whistle' of a Vampire flying overhead (he waggled his wings when I waved-unforgettable!) is this the same thing?

I'm also curious about the Buccaneer. I've only ever read glowing reports about this aircraft.
1. Was it really that good?
2. If so, why and why has it been retired?
(Great photo's on the web, low level stuff. Amazing looking aircraft)

henry crun
9th Jun 2002, 11:14
The original Blue Note was produced by the Meteor at high speed.
The whistle of a Vampire is not a Blue Note.

The combination of engine and airframe noise, particularly that produced by the fuselage gun ports, made a distinctive note which was instantly recognisable.
It is not a noise that I find easy to describe except to say that when you have heard it you won't forget or confuse it with anything else.

The Hunter does produce a distinctive noise but it is not the same as that made by the Meteor.

Hew Jampton
9th Jun 2002, 17:38
The Vulcan also produced a Blue Note in a climbing turn, difficult to describe but sounded like a lion's roar (very apt!). The video 'Vulcan - A Farewell to Arms' by DD Video, it's on there.

9th Jun 2002, 19:53
Then there was the F104 which produced a note in the key of F. Apparently perfect pitch too!

10th Jun 2002, 08:07
I remember the Meteor F8 flown by Stan Hodgkins at Duxford's Autumn Air Day two or three years ago makin g strange noises - sounded great! I've got a sound recording of it, not sure how to attach it. It's a 685kb AVI file if anyone would like a copy emailed...

Also someone (probably Rod Dean - own up mate!) took the Jordanian Historical Flight Hunter down the runway at Farnborough 1998 at high speed - the sound that preceeded its pass was, I believe, the blue note. Also sounded great!

The Meteor is the one recently exported to Australia (shame!), Octane, so you might be able to see - and hear - it for yourself!


10th Jun 2002, 08:35

The Buccaneer, according to fellow Ppruner BEagle who wrote about it recently, is not a particularly easy device to conduct - a fascinating account, though. This link will, with luck, navigate you to the relevant thread


11th Jun 2002, 08:46
Lowtimer, thanks for the link to Beagle's Buc story. Sounds like the machine was a handful . Wonder if this aircraft suffered a high loss rate?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
14th Jun 2002, 13:03
That Vulcan noise - is that the same as the 'howl' it made on take off when the taps were opened wide but before it had much speed? Very distinctive.


15th Jun 2002, 05:30
The Vulcan 'howl' was, pre-Falklands, confined to -200 series engines as all the -300s had the take-off/cruise selector set permanently to cruise and the intake resonance wouldn't happen.

You only got it if you brought up the engines quickly on take-off (we never did 'rolling' take-offs) or if you exceeeded 92?% on a 2-engined asymmetric go-around, which you weren't supposed to do. But most of us did! The noise was often called the 'rutting dinosaur' sound. On a cold, still day you could make the -200 engined Vulcan howl heard across most of Lincolnshire; the ac had so much power that even after a heavyweight take-off the first event would be a simulated DEFATO - and full power certainly wasn't needed for the subsequent go-around! You could set your watch on the ground if you heard a Vulcan taking off - chances were it'd be back to do it's rutting dinosaur howl 15 minutes later!

After the Falklands, all the -300s had been restored to full power and the full power howl was even louder. Allegedly a howling Waddo -300 jet would shake Lincoln cathedral.............

But back to 'blue notes'. I was at Honington in 1976 on my Bucc-struggle when there was a mini-Open Day. 'Wing nut' (aka known as 'VRB' or 'Sex Pest' amongst the politer nicknames) flew F8 'Winston' over from Brawdy and created a very fine Meatbox 'blue note' during the display... To create a good one in the Hunter 6A or 9, you needed to be doing about 450 KIAS, then slowly close the throttle to idle before you reached the aerodrome so that your victims only heard the airframe and gun port 'WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO' as you went past. Ideally choose a cold, calm day and when the circuit was clear as you weren't supposed to join the circuit at such speed............

Out Of Trim
16th Jun 2002, 02:09
I've experienced the Hunter Blue note quite a few times while serving at the TWU Bombing Range - RAF Pembrey Sands - A very distinctive sound you will never forget.. I think just an engine resonance that was kind of eery but nice as well. 79 Sqn from Brawdy when I was there 1982 to 1986 - made a nice change from Brawdy & Chivenor Hawks - but also remember getting beaten up by a Meteor parting the long grass on one occasion - Great Stuff!:) :p :)

16th Jun 2002, 18:17
You can also get the blue note - identical to the Hunter - out of the Canberra PR9 doing a fast pass during the display.

At full power on takeoff the U2 has an engine howl identical to the Vulcan.

16th Jun 2002, 19:12
Not so. The U2 spools up very quickly and makes considerable jet efflux noise but of the several U2s I've heard at various places, none has achieved the intake resonance rutting dinosaur sound of the Vulcan!

Besides - it's American......

17th Jun 2002, 21:32
The Meatbox is lovely - a double-barrelled blue note :D

There are only two Hunters in the UK that can produce the Blue Note.
They are both F.6A's, XF515 belonging to Kennet Aviation at Cranfield, and XF516 owned by Peter Hellier and operated by the Hunter Flying Club at Exeter.
The Swiss jets I think have different gun ports so they do not make the noise, or so I have been told.

At Farnborough 1998 XF516 was put through its paces during the public days, and if the pilot's display was anything like his validation flight then it would be Blue Note heaven :)

To find out more on XF516 visit the Classic Jets/Hunter Flying Club web-site at www.classicjets.co.uk


22nd Jun 2002, 07:18
Sorry Beags - must take issue with you about the U2/Vulcan noise. Many hours on the tin triangle + lived next door to the UK U2 base for many years; also spent many sunny dets watching their antics over the odd glass of the red infuriator. U2 at full power has an identical howl - ok it may be atmospheric conditions related, but it's a fact.

Rgds, FJJP ;)

Fg Off Max Stout
23rd Jun 2002, 14:30
Max Stout Snr, RAF retd, meteor, vampire, hunter jock, told me that the blue note was from the air in the cannons' barrels resonating - almost exactly the same as a pipe organ.

Just can't seem to get a blue note out of my helo, though.

Fg Off Max Stout
23rd Jun 2002, 14:39
Max Stout Snr, RAF retd, meteor, vampire, hunter jock, told me that the blue note was from the air in the cannons' barrels resonating - almost exactly the same as a pipe organ.

Just can't seem to get a blue note out of my helo, though.