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WADDINGTON 2011 

 We attended Waddington 2011 as every year, and were given the star slot in the hangar directly facing the hangar door and jutting out into the band and refreshment seating which now take up about one third of the floor area.  The bad news is that we are right beside loud music all day, but this was more than compensated for by the three American girl singers in WWII American military caps, white blouses, sheer black stockings and very tight period pencil skirts.  They were there last year as well, and naturally we considered it the gentlemanly thing to do to invite them to sit in the big cockpit.  Charles pulled rank as Chairman to beat everyone else back and to escort them up the ladder and into the seat.  Happy days. 

Back to reality.  The decreased floor area has meant that there are far fewer slots available than in the past, and it is a great tribute to the effort put in by the team that we get asked back every year while others are being axed.  Apart from a putting on a very interesting and colourful display, I think it’s appreciated that we don’t try to make the slot into a money-making venture, which many try to do, and the cockpits are very child-friendly (but see later).  We tend to find that we have a constant queue of 5-6 kids all day from shortly after 8 am until they have to be bundled out when the hangar closes at 6 pm. 

We used to try to give a short cockpit talk-round aimed at the kids – you know how your daddy’s car (OK, mummy’s too) has an accelerator to make it go faster; well, we’ve got two because we’ve got two engines, and you know how your daddy’s car has a fuel gauge to tell him how much petrol he’s got left; well, we’ve got five – but nowadays the pressure for a seat is so great that we basically get the child into the cockpit, let the parents take some photos or do it for them, and get the child back out by suggesting they have another photo taken in the ejection seat on the ground with the pilot mannequin beside.  The older girls, frequently in very short shorts or miniskirts, generally don’t go up the ladder, but you’d be amazed how many have their photos taken while fluttering their eyelashes and in very close contact with the pilot. 

Normally everything goes smoothly, but this year we had a couple of glitches when one little girl became too scared to get back out of the cockpit and one little boy ordered his mother off the ladder before he’d get out, saying he could do it himself.  OK, if you let yourself be bossed about by your kids, that’s your problem, but then he instructed me to get off the Firestreak as well and get down on the ground.  Taking the view that there were probably no lip-readers in the hangar, I persuaded him that it would be a very good idea to give another little kiddie a chance to have a seat.  Sorted. 

On the stand, since last year we’d painted the big trailer NATO green and it looked very like a professional military rig, being pulled by the 101 truck.  We got a lot of admiring looks on the road.  Ray Whiteley promised us a big surprise this year in his RAF Binbrook display, but wouldn’t tell us what it was until the day.  Imagine how thrilled we were when he unveiled an illuminated English Electric Lightning sign!  That really put the American girl singers in the shade!  Many thanks to Ray, Darren Swinn and Kim, John Watson, Mike Smith, Hugh Donnelly and Andy Burden from 5 Squadron.  Roll on 2012.

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011

waddington 2011


Charles Ross


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