East Midlands Aeropark

26th April 2022

Under threat of being cast down into a wilderness beyond this place, my better half, Marianne, insists that this write up should not be too aircraft technical. So I sincerely apologise if I don’t drone on about wing loadings, wing washout, boundary layers, drag ratios, Fowler flaps, wingtip vortices, control surface flutter – or even that old chestnut, Bernoulli’s Principle.

So here goes, chocks away. Well, what a great experience our visit to the Aeropark turned out to be. Apart from all the aeroplanes, it was good to be part of the fourteen DonMoggers and the eight various breeds of Morgan cars that attended. The Gods of all things bright and beautiful were certainly looking down on us; and although it was a wee tad chilly at times – hood down was the order of the day. We had two relatively new members with us: welcome Mike and Sally Mackay to the fold. We knew them from CranMog and FoxMog and it was a lovely surprise to see them again.

Paul Fileman, and no doubt his better half Jan, had organised a DonMog private visit to the Aeropark to meet there at 10:00 am. It was great to have the secure gated car park all to ourselves as well as having four clued-up guides to give us our very own private tour of the site and aircraft. We were split into four groups (probably so they could keep an eye on us and keep us under control) that made viewing and accessing the various aircraft easier to manage and help prevent any pushing and shoving and fighting over who’s sitting in the first officer’s pilot’s seat. Several of the aircraft were open for internal viewing, so I assume that we all climbed aboard at some point. The very prominent Avro Vulcan XM575 (Falklands Victory Flypast over London,1982) was of significant importance to Bob Hounslow as he spent, enjoyed, endured, many a happy hour (approximately 1500) in Vulcans like her during his RAF career. It was fascinating chatting with him about it afterwards. Such a crying shame that the last and only airworthy Vulcan last flew in 2015. It just reinforces the saying that it’s not aerodynamics that keeps an aircraft flying, it’s money. 

There are many of their displayed aircraft with a colourful history, but two that stood out in my mind were the ex-RAF Vickers VC10 (XV108) and the BAe Nimrod (XW664). The VC10 flew Special Forces into Basra, Iraq, during the Gulf War, and flew the Queen on several occasions, but not to Iraq. 

In 2003 the Nimrod played a vital role in the capture of Saddam Hussein and, although the news media portrayed the United States Operation Red Dawn as the heroes in all of this, it was the Nimrod’s reconnaissance that told the Americans where he was hiding. They were ‘listening in’ on Iraqi mobile ‘phone conversations and radioed the Americans on the ground advising them that Saddam was very close by to where they were. The Americans initially dismissed this as they were sure there was no-one around, but the Nimrod insisted otherwise and gave them co-ords of the ‘phone conversation. This was acted on and it turned out that it was good old Saddam Hussein after all, hiding in the town of ad-Dawr.

A bit of tech to upset Marianne: The Nimrod could be airborne and operating for up to 18 hours with in-flight refuelling, that’s hell of a time when you consider there was only one loo to serve a full complement consisting of a four-man flight deck crew of two pilots, a flight engineer and a weapon systems officer, and an electronic reconnaissance crew of 24 reconnaissance- equipment operators commanded by a mission supervisor. To add to the fun, there was one small galley often serving curry as the crew’s favourite food. Remember, just ONE LOO!

We were kindly invited to drive our cars around the aircraft, take photos and to wander as freely as we wished. Good time was had by all, but soon it was time to fire up and head for Long Whatton’s Falcon Inn where Paul and Jan (thank you both so much) had reserved a table for us all. Fabulous time, lovely food, and all in great company.

Tom Hancock