What a great time we all had. Thanks to Dave Walton we had exclusive use of the new Whittle Building to meet and greet, take lunch and hold the mission briefing. There was a gathering of Black Buck 1 Air Staff, aircrew, engineers and mission planners the previous evening for an anniversary dinner at Hothorpe House, near Bruntingthorpe.
There was an informal meet and greet on Badger’s verandah as the afternoon wore on.
A selection of comrades and wives catching up on the years. Lots to talk about.
And so to the preparations for our dinner in the Woodlands.
Pre-dinner drinks then the pre-flight meal.
Great meal. Great company. Excellent address from Mike Knight stressing the historical importance. A response from Tux, who took the opportunity to introduce each of the engineering team responsible for keeping Tina fit to taxy.
All retired to the bar and settled down to relive past experiences and make new friends. Bed finally called as the following day was expected to be long and hopefully enjoyable.
And so to the Sunday. Everyone met in the new Whittle Building overlooking the pan. There was an opportunity to meet the veterans, some of whom could not make the dinner the previous night. Whilst our Bruntingthorpe team prepared the presentation room our guests had a coffee and chat and Victor XM715 was towed from its pan into position for the photo shoot.
Darren Harbar, of Flypast magazine, kindly organised the photo shoot in front of the aircraft, building up the groups of veterans like a wedding photographer. His photos accompany the article in the May edition of Flypast and he has kindly agreed to show all his photos in our Photograph Gallery.
The veterans from left to right: Simon Baldwin, Dick Evans, Dave Baradell, Neil Brooks, Mike Beer, Steve Biglands, Steve Webley, Mike Wood, Barry Ireland, Frank Milligan, John Ingham, Dick Russell, Al Bowman, Glyn Rees, Bob Tuxford, Martin Withers, Monty Montgomery, Jerry Price, Trevor Sitch, Bill Lloyd and Warwick Pike. John Foot in the front. Al Skelton also attended.
The re-enactors joined us to continue the photo shoot dressed in authentic flying kit, including the uncomfortable immersion suit. They posed around the cockpit for everyone to get their shots.
Next up was the demonstration by Tux and crew of an aborted take off. The crew were joined in the run by Tony Wallis, the son of Tux’s late Navigator Radar, Ernie Wallis. Unfortunately, a stiff cross wind had blown up so a revised plan of running towards the threshold had to be implemented.
A final presentation at the aircraft before moving indoors. Stephen Reglar, the Team Adjutant of the Canberra WT333 Operating Team also housed at Bruntingthorpe had worked hard to produce 189 first day covers to celebrate the anniversary of Black Buck 1 and specifically the sortie flown by the Tuxford crew in Victor XL189. The covers were in the cockpit for the anniversary run and will be flown to Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands by RAF transport aircraft to be franked. It is hoped to generate some funds to keep XM715 running.
The final part of the day was an overview of the Victor’s involvement in Operation Corporate and, specifically, a Black Buck 1 mission briefing. After an excellent buffet lunch, the Tux crew delivered.
A poignant finale. 35 years ago Dick Russell, a Marham Air to Air Refuelling Instructor, was the refuelling adviser on board Martin Withers Vulcan and celebrated his 50th birthday during the mission. So our anniversary day was his 85th birthday, celebrated with a surprise cake made by Brendon’s wife, Toni.
And so it was all over. What a good day to meet old friends and share our memories with the enthusiasts who came along. Look forward to the 40th!!!
Dedicated to the memories of those Black Buck 1 veterans no longer with us, especially remembering Squadron Leader Ernie Wallis, QCVSA and Flight Liuetenant John Keable, QCVSA of “White 2”.