25th Anniversary Taxi Run 21/06/2009
This year saw the 25th anniversary of the arrival of XM655 at Wellesbourne Mountford airfield and we were hoping that our event this year would be a little bit special. We had no idea just how special it would turn out to be.
To back up the taxy runs of 655, we had a superb display of about 175 Classic Cars and Military Vehicles which had been organised by Richard Galazka. Many thanks to the proud owners who brought along these superb exhibits. The Patrick Motors Collection again brought along Mr Jones' van from the Dads Army television show. This has become a regular feature of our event. Air Atlantique Classic Flight came along to offer visitors a chance to take a flight in their vintage de Havilland Rapide and newcomers to the event, AvonAir Centre, were on hand with flights in their Cessna. Squadron Leader Rik Head brought along a Squirrel helicopter by kind permission of Royal Air Force Shawbury and a small number of other aircraft were on static display. These included Martin Slater's Auster. Martin is a long standing supporter of 655MaPS. As usual, we had a variety of stalls and also food and drinks (non alcoholic) vendors.
The gentlemen and ladies from the Royal Air Force Association were out in force to raise funds for RAFA and this year we had a contingent from the British Legion Bikers to advertise the work which they do for the Legion.
Right on time at 11:30, XM655 was fired up for the first of its demonstrations of the day. As usual, the aircraft was in the very capable hands of David Thomas and Mike Pollitt with Phil Davies substituting as AEO for Barry Masefield who was occupied with XH558. A slow demonstration gave the photographers in the crowd lots of opportunity for that special shot.
Hardly had the sound of 655 died away then it was "smoke on, go" and the Red Arrows gave us a great low pass across the airfield with red, white and blue smoke trailing. Earlier in the year, Charles Brimson had approached the Arrows to see if a flypast would be possible on our 25th. Thanks to the Arrows and Charles it went down well with the crowd.
Around 14:30, the sound of the Olympus 301 engines was again heard as 655 prepared for a higher speed run. Not the full on normal high speed run since we had just been notified by Rolls-Royce of a possible problem. In the interest of safety the crew limited the engine power to 70% but even that produced a satisfying amount of noise. At the end of the run, 655 was held on the runway instead if its usual swift exit. By now the word was around of a special event and it was all eyes to the South. After a lengthy pause, a familiar shape appeared in the sky as Martin Withers, en route from Holland, brought XH558 straight down the line of the runway and over the top of 655. With 655 holding on the runway, Martin did two more circuits followed by a spirited climb-out on his way to Kemble. Barry had made it to Wellesbourne after all. Many thanks to Martin and his crew and to Mike Pollitt and the VOC for giving us a truly memorable 25th.
Thanks are due to everyone who helped to make sure our event went off without a hitch and who took part in the day. I would especially like to mention Dave Rowlands whose commentary is so much appreciated by all the crowd and to the boys and girls of the Air Training Corps and their Officers who did such a wonderful job for us in looking after the cars and the visitors. The Cadets came from 1460(Banbury) Squadron, 1368(Warwick) Squadron, 1046(Fordhouse) Squadron and 163( Nuneaton) Squadron.
Well, we wanted something special and that is exactly what we got. The only problem is, how do we top that next year?
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