Sector 2. Southampton to RAF Leeming
After refuelling the aircraft and the crew, the Catalina departed Southampton accompanied by a chase aircraft for some more air to air photography over Netley, Calshot, East Cowes and Portsmouth. Once again Jon Butts was flying this camera ship while Karl Drage was the man behind the lens. Netley on Southampton Water was the start point for the 1913 Circuit of Britain Race and nearby Calshot was a Naval Air Station.
The Catalina G-PBYA orbits Netley Chapel at the start of the 100th Anniversay Flight. (Photo credit Karl Drage)
The Classic Boat Gallery in East Cowes was hosting a Sopwith Bat Boat Exhibition. Hawker had won the Mortimer Singer Prize flying one and it was the predecessor to the Sopwith Waterplane so an orbit over East Cowes was considered fitting for the ocassion.
Catalina G-PBYA over East Cowes (Photo credit Karl Drage)
Cowes Video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aVWu8NWWz8
After Portsmouth the camera ship departed back to Lee-on-Solent and it was then down to work for the Catalina crew. By this stage Jeff was pilot flying and the first task was an orbit at Rustington on the south coast. Hawker had not set down here in 1913 but the RAFBF have a number of Sea Cottages there and an orbit was called for in support of this charity. Continuing east and having left Solent radars frequency the crew were speaking with Shoreham ATC. The Catalina is no stranger to Shoreham having visited previously for air displays on the south coast. Given the time there was bound to be a good crowd in the art deco terminal building enjoying the last of their lunch. Shoreham ATC requested a flypast and the crew obliged with a missed approach. Continuing along the coast it was past Brighton Marina, Seaford and then Beachy Head.
By this time Rod was on Lydd’s frequency. The danger areas around Lydd were avoided and the airfield circuit was not busy so Lydd had a close up of the Catalina with a flypast. Next waypoint was Ramsgate, the first Control Point for the Sopwith Waterplane in 1913. Jeff flew past with a running commentary to orientate Rod who then took over for the first display of the day. It was a short one as a few miles on it was repeated at Broadstairs for the benefit of the crowd at the water gala. Jeff was busy with Manston Approach and the display frequencies while monitoring height and speed as Rod put on a great display in a confined area.
Ramsgate video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkJR_6YBs1E
The next control point was Yarmouth, formerly a Naval Air Station, but that was an hours flight away. Before hand it was a case of negotiating a number of danger areas off Southend plus the wind farms not to mention the restricted area for Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. Jeff was back flying while Rod took over the radio duties. The crew flew at about 700 feet above the sea and kept as close to the shoreline as possible so that those on the ground had a chance to see the Catalina as it flew past. Just south of Yarmouth Jeff flew inland so as to approach the display area of the second Control Point from the north. This had the folk on the ground wondering as the YouTube clip shows but Rod brought the Cat down to display height and started the routine. Seeing a Hawker relative waving an Aussie flag on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea was a great sight to behold.
Dianne Whitfield flies the flag for her distant relative, Harry Hawker.
You tube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfLTJUMKDuE
Leaving the display area the Catalina crew flew along the coast to the delight of the holiday folk on the Yarmouth esplanade and continued their journey north. All along the way the Catalina crew had been thinking of Harry Hawker and his mate Harry Kauper. They had no radio so one less task but were they lonely being out of contact and what did they see? Continuing north it was a case of avoiding some NOTAMed displays at Cromer, the windfarm off the coast at Skegness as well as the firing range at Donna Nook. Hawker had none of these to worry about. The Catalina’s two Pratt & Whitney R1830’s purred on but Hawker was dependent on his Green 100HP 6 cylinder in line engine. The final display of the day was at Scarborough but that was some way off. With all displays it is a case of how to make an entrance and what better way than from behind. Once again Rod showed the Catalina off to the crowd on the various Scarborough vantage points.
Standing at the Castle, Graham Cook provided this wonderful shot of the Catalina starting a turn to starboard prior to running back in to the Grand Hotel, the 1913 Control Point still in existence.
Meanwhile Ian Thomas provided a video of the display. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36e2yuCIQyc
Jeff An unscheduled flypast at Durham Tees Valley was undertaken prior following a request from the tower. It was than a case of Jeff positioning the aircraft for a landing at RAF Leeming. The arrestor cables were not required and soon the Catalina was on the apron opposite the Met Office. After a long day it was great to see the welcome party of Station Commander Group Captain Steve Reeves and Flt Lt Phoebe Rossiter plus ground crew waiting.
Although the primary aim of the flight was to commemorate the achievements of Harry Hawker and Harry Kauper 100 years ago there were other duties for the crew of this flight. While Rod completed the paperwork Jeff was welcoming Brad Brown (11 and in the yellow T-shirt) and his family on board. Brad, a young aviation enthusiast who has bravely fought against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia over recent years, was given the opportunity to go on board the Catalina and meet the crew. The smiles on the faces says it all!
With the assistance of the RAF ground crew, Crew Chief Shaun Jarvis soon secured the aircraft for its overnight stay. Later Jeff laid a wreath at the Station Memorial before Flt Lt Phoebe Rossiter took the crew to the Officers Mess to relax.
Photo credit for the above two photographs RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013.