|by Paul Holden, PRO|
12 August 2002
ENJOY BUSY SUMMER PROGRAMME
Members of the local branch of the Aircrew Association enjoyed a real contrast of aircraft performance characteristics in their Coach Outing from Fairoaks. Members from North West Surrey and North East Hampshire joined the coach at Fleet Service Station, for a first stop to visit the Spitfire Club at Popham Airfield, just off the A303. There they watched micro light aircraft taking off in around 6 seconds, and landing in less than 50 yards!
Next stop was the former Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, which has since become the home of the Empire Test Pilots School. There they saw an active programme of high performance aircraft flying, and after an introductory briefing with some superb video clips of some of the aircraft which had been tested over the years at Boscombe Down, were treated to a tour of the hangars, with shiny new Merlin helicopters; the latest mark of Chinook helicopters undergoing acceptance testing; the unique Boscombe fleets of BAC 111s and Alpha Jets; and the chance to get into the cockpits of active flight test Harriers, Jaguars and Tornados. They were then privileged to be allowed ‘behind the scenes’ with an enthusiastic guided tour of the rapidly developing Boscombe Down Museum which is not yet open to the public, but aims to retain key exhibits related to flight testing at the airfield.