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RAF flypasts over London

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RAF flypasts over London

Old 17th Mar 2021, 15:45
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RAF flypasts over London

Hello all.

As child I grew up in Hounslow under the approach to LHR 28R. I have vague recollections of RAF flypasts, I think, to mark the Queen's birthday and I'm guessing it was late 60s.

I think they happened most years and were typically made up of about 9 Hunters/Javelins/Lightnings travelling East to West over London and finishing over Hounslow before departing. I'm sure it caused some fun for LHR controllers and traffic!

Are there any details anywhere? When did they stop? (aside from the one off specials) ... I would love to know what aircraft were really involved, instead if what I think i remember of 50 years ago!
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 19:03
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My earliest memories of flypasts over London were in the 70's, when 4 X Vulcans from Waddington would fly over Buckingham Palace for the Queens Birthday. They would join up with Buccaneers, Lightnings, Phantoms etc on route, not much information was given out about the formations at that time.

It's was only in the 90's onwards when details were released about the route of the formations, and the aircraft involved and where to see them on route. I have tried to find details myself about different flypasts over the years but not much success!
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 19:36
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Originally Posted by 233SQN View Post
Hello all.

As child I grew up in Hounslow under the approach to LHR 28R. I have vague recollections of RAF flypasts, I think, to mark the Queen's birthday and I'm guessing it was late 60s.

I think they happened most years and were typically made up of about 9 Hunters/Javelins/Lightnings travelling East to West over London and finishing over Hounslow before departing. I'm sure it caused some fun for LHR controllers and traffic!

Are there any details anywhere? When did they stop? (aside from the one off specials) ... I would love to know what aircraft were really involved, instead if what I think i remember of 50 years ago!
Yes, correct, Trooping the Colour flypast over Buck House, and they have never stopped (apart from last year due to Covid obviously)
What did happen was the routing changed by the early 80's, which took it further away from LHR.
By the late 80's they were making a sharper turn to the left soon after overflying Buck House and which took them in a north-west direction over Shepherds Bush and Wembley area, pretty much following the A1/M1 route out of the London area.
By the mid 90's they changed the routing again, and took a less tight turn to the left (except BBMF) and followed a route that closely followed the A40 west from London, and involved overflying RAF Northolt. This is still pretty much the route still used now.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 20:48
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 21:04
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18 Shackletons flying down The Mall for the Queen's Birthday in June 1952.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 22:51
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Good Grief!! Eighteen million rivets in close formation. Is this a record?
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 22:58
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Never mind the rivets - that's 1728 spark plugs!
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 11:01
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I posted some pics of the Victory Flypast of the 8th June 1946 here:

Goodwill
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 13:07
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There is a picture of Nelson's Column passing passing down the stbd side taken from the beam window of one of the Shacks in that formation. It's just about level! Unfortunately I lost my copy of it during a hard drive failure a few years ago. Lancman - do you?
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 18:20
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Never mind the rivets - that's 1728 spark plugs!
2640 of which would have been firing every second (assuming 2200rpm)
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 11:07
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To be kind, I expect that they were still forming up when the pic was taken........................
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 13:34
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Originally Posted by 233SQN View Post
Hello all.

As child I grew up in Hounslow under the approach to LHR 28R. I have vague recollections of RAF flypasts, I think, to mark the Queen's birthday and I'm guessing it was late 60s.

I think they happened most years and were typically made up of about 9 Hunters/Javelins/Lightnings travelling East to West over London and finishing over Hounslow before departing. I'm sure it caused some fun for LHR controllers and traffic!

Are there any details anywhere? When did they stop? (aside from the one off specials) ... I would love to know what aircraft were really involved, instead if what I think i remember of 50 years ago!
I have been collecting and collating info from these flypasts for many years. The flypast you are talking about is generally known as the "Queen's Birthday Flypast", and has occurred almost every year since the early 1950s; prior to that it was known as the "Sovereign's Flypast". On one occasion in the 1950s it was cancelled because there was a national rail strike, and it has been curtailed and reduced on several occasions due to bad weather. Some of the early flypasts were 'left to right' when viewed from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The 1959 flypast was the first to be held on a Saturday (and has been ever since); the previous ones were held on a Thursday.

Sadly, information about the flypasts during the 1960s is a bit sparse. It wasn't always Vulcans; during the 60s it often involved Lightnings and/or Hunters, and I'd still like to hear from anyone who was personally involved in any QBFs.

I would assume that there must be some paper record of each flypast stored away somewhere, probably even OpOrders?
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 17:41
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Originally Posted by Geezers of Nazareth View Post
Sadly, information about the flypasts during the 1960s is a bit sparse. It wasn't always Vulcans; during the 60s it often involved Lightnings and/or Hunters, and I'd still like to hear from anyone who was personally involved in any QBFs.
I still vividly recall standing with the boy from next door up on our coal bunker in our back garden in West London along with his Mum&Dad (his Dad was ex-RAF Spitfire pilot) and my Mum on that sunny June day in 1969 waiting for the flypast to come over our houses, which it did then, and seeing those 16 x glistening Lightnings in formation followed by Concorde 002.
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 20:12
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Originally Posted by Geezers of Nazareth View Post
I have been collecting and collating info from these flypasts for many years. The flypast you are talking about is generally known as the "Queen's Birthday Flypast", and has occurred almost every year since the early 1950s; prior to that it was known as the "Sovereign's Flypast". On one occasion in the 1950s it was cancelled because there was a national rail strike, and it has been curtailed and reduced on several occasions due to bad weather. Some of the early flypasts were 'left to right' when viewed from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The 1959 flypast was the first to be held on a Saturday (and has been ever since); the previous ones were held on a Thursday.

Sadly, information about the flypasts during the 1960s is a bit sparse. It wasn't always Vulcans; during the 60s it often involved Lightnings and/or Hunters, and I'd still like to hear from anyone who was personally involved in any QBFs.

I would assume that there must be some paper record of each flypast stored away somewhere, probably even OpOrders?
I did the Golden Jubilee Flypast in the VC10, lots of fun when Her Maj was late and the whole formation had to do a quick dogleg over East Anglia to get the revised timing to work. A more interesting set of flypasts was RMT 2000, 5 nights in a row over Horseguards Parade trying to not bump into the BBMF Lanc because of the massive overtake speed then overflying the Tina Turner concert on the way home!
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 10:01
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I was in my room in one of the South Woodford tower block QMC Halls Of Residence in the early '70s when the noise of traffic on the A11 was suddenly eclipsed by The Sound of Freedom as a formation for some Buck House flypast went directly overhead. I recall that the weather wasn't all that great either....

On that point, I was going to take part in some flypast or other over London once - until it was noticed that whoever had drafted the Op Order hadn't a clue about fixed wing visibility limits and had proposed absurdly low limits. Officialdom thought it would be too risky to send out an amendment in the time available, so the whole thing was canned - and no doubt someone was invited for an Axminster shuffle!
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 11:17
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Some years ago, in the 1980s, I worked with an aged Spec Aircrew Sqn Ldr (aged! about 15 years younger than I am now) who had flown a Meteor in the Coronation Flypast. He said the Sabres were the biggest problem in the (very) mixed formation - they kept flaming out!

Which didn't stop them. He related calls like:

"Blue 17, flameout, descending..."

followed shortly by:

"Blue 17, successful relight, rejoining formation!"

Somehow can't imagine that today........ but then there were probably more aircraft in that formation than the RAF have today! (And he made the point that they were all from UK, none from RAFG or further afield).
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Old 27th Mar 2021, 10:16
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1981 Trooping Flypast taken by me on a pocket 110 camera standing outside my parents house in West London


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