XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society

Wings and Wheels 2008 22/06/2008

After taking a break in 2007, the engineers of 655 MaPS had once again prepared the aircraft for display and organised a full supporting programme to complement the taxi demonstrations of XM655.

Richard Galazka had taken on the task of putting together a display of over 100 Classic Cars and Military Vehicles which is always a big draw to the event, and this years selection proved as interesting as ever. A welcome addition to the line up was a display of Morgans from the Morgan Owners Club. As in the past the CC owners were asked to vote for the best car in show and the winner was the owner of a superb MG who received his cup from pilot David Thomas.

We had planned to have a number of vintage aircraft on display but unfortunately the very windy conditions prevented all except a Squirrel from RAF Shawbury and a privately owned Bulldog from reaching Wellesbourne.

We were lucky enough to have our usual crew of David Thomas, Mike Pollitt and Barry Masefield with us and at 11:30 655 was fired up for its first run of the day. Unlike previous years when the aircraft has started from the opposite side of the runway in the morning, 655 had been positioned in front of the viewing area to give an extra chance for everyone to see the start-up preparations at close quarters. A slow speed run was completed with David stopping the aircraft to give the photographers the best chance for pictures.

In the afternoon with the wind now gusting straight across the runway at well over 40 knots, David made the decision to carry on with the high speed run so as not to disappoint the crowd, even though cancellation would have been justified. The nosewheel stayed firmly on the ground however to ensure 655 remained on the narrow Wellesbourne runway.

We were very pleased with the performance of 655 especially after a great deal of maintenance work had been carried out including a major overhaul of the brakes. It finished the day with no real problems.

The same could not be said of the exhibitors who had a huge battle with the high winds, and several stalls were damaged, including the big MaPS tent, which was completely wrecked despite being anchored down by large concrete blocks.

Right through the day, Captain Dave Rowland again provided a superb commentary on what was happening and in filling in the gaps with background information, battling against the wind, which threatened to blow the sounds away.

Also filling in the gaps were the cadets from 1855(Royton) Squadron ATC who as the "Red Barrows" treated the crowd to several displays of manoeuvres with their red wheelbarrows. Great stuff.

The visitors also had a chance to see our newly restored Vulcan bomb hoist demonstrated by our youngest member Daniel, aided and abetted by dad Charles. We think that this is the only working example in existence.

The ATC were also very much in evidence around the site as members of 1368 (Warwick) Squadron and 1460 (Banbury) Squadron directed the cars to the car parks. Many thanks to all involved and members of the public commented on how helpful and polite they were.

As usual our thanks go to everyone who worked so hard to make the day a success and a memorable one for our visitors.

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