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The Trooping the Colour flypast from up on my roof

Earlier today I chanced upon Trooping the Colour on the telly, which is the big old military parade they have in London on the Queen’s “Official” Birthday. Mention was made of a flypast that was about to happen, and I immediately grabbed my camera and ran up to my roof, to photo what whatever of it that I could from there.

I had to wait a while, until 1pm. There was much helicopter activity, which seemed promising. Our Armed Forces keeping their eyes out for surface-to-air missiles, and suchlike devilry? Perhaps. Maybe just pretending to be doing that, in order to deter it. Whatever, eventually, I spied, way out beyond the multi-pointed Parliament Tower, two real airplanes, flying together. Which could only mean a flypast. No planes approaching Heathrow would ever bunch up together, like that, by which I mean like this:

That photo was taken with maximum zoom, but eventually these two airplanes trundled towards me, and I got a rather better shot of them, although still with quite a lot of zoom:

When I watched the television highlights of the show in the evening, they said that the biggest of the planes in this next photo was the biggest plane the RAF possesses:

To me, it just looks like a Boeing Dreamliner in plain clothes. Don’t they have any properly big planes? It occurs to me that the Dreamliner may be bigger than I had thought.

But at least I got to take semi-adequate photos of this dreary plane and its little sidekicks, and of its predecessor and its sidekick, above.

I had less luck with these guys:

That’s a heavily cropped close-up of them, as the Red Arrows (for it was they) vanished behind the big tower block in the middle of the square I live on the edge of, leaving only their jets of patriotic-coloured smoke.

Here is the original photo that the above is cropped from:

Which gives you an idea of how far away all this was happening, and how the direction of travel of whatever it was determined whether I would ever see it properly or not.

Unlike the earlier boring jets, the Red Arrows didn’t disappear from London in a westerly direction, i.e. past me. They went north. And this was as close to an actual photo I got of them:

I never saw anything like this:

Whch is how the Red Arrows looked on my telly.

According to that same telly, a couple of Hurricanes and a Spitfire, or maybe it was the other way around, flying in a formation, were also part of the show. But I never laid eyes or lens on them.

Nevertheless, I account the trip upstairs a success. My purpose was to see how one of these London Queen’s Birthday flypasts looked like from up on my roof, and I did. It wasn’t nearly as good as the Farnborough Air Show, but I didn’t expect it to be. It wasn’t even as good as the New Year’s Eve fireworks that I photoed from the same spot last New Year’s Eve. But then, a firework occupies a lot more sky at any particular moment than an airplane does, and its entire purpose is to be extremely visible.

I actually find it quite reassuring that the British state’s version of a ceremonial flypast over its capital city is so very modest, and that by far its most impressive moment features guys who are basically aerial ballet dancers.

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23 comments to The Trooping the Colour flypast from up on my roof

  • Fred the Fourth

    Don’t be too hard on the civilian stuff. Remember the SAC KC-135? Basically a B-707.
    Back in the days when the B-1 designs were coming out, my old man remarked that, aside from high-speed low-level penetration, there was no mission required that a Concorde couldn’t perform. (He was a proud American, but claimed that Concorde was the best-handling plane he ever flew.)
    And most famously, the DC-3 / C-47.

  • Fred the Fourth

    Oh, actually, now that I think about it, what he actually said was that Concorde would only be good for ONE high-speed low-level penetration. (Because the aluminium airframe wasn’t as capable as the titanium-aluminium B-1)
    Which single mission, in the SAC context, would have been enough.

  • The one that looks like a Dreamliner is a Voyager. It is a modified Airbus A320 I think…

    They are used for air transport and also air-to-air refuelling. Very common sight here at RAF Akrotiri.

  • Mr Ed

    Clacton airshow in August is good, especially if you go to the end of the pier, from where thw separation between the Red Arrows can sometimes be seen.

    The sole Typhoon display is usually excellent, last year low cloud meant that its enlarged shadow was visible on broken low cloud beneath it.

    But in the all-time fly-bys, there is at No. 1 the ‘Tower Bridge Incident‘, when a miffed RAF pilot flew his Hawker Hunter under the top span of Tower Bridge, only damaging a passer-by’s trousers; and an honourable second to the Brazilian pilots who did a double sonic boom over a government ceremony at a plate glass building.

  • TomJ

    Ah, ZZ174, nice to see it doing ceremonial stuff. When I was on 99 it had just been struck by lightning in flight and had cosmetic damage covered by speed tape which wouldn’t be sorted until it got a full strip and repaint back at Boeing.

    On the Voyager; it actually an A330 which has a wingspan half a smidge longer than a Dreamlike, both coming in at around 60m, which isn’t exactly tiny. It is our only air to air refuelling platform these days since we retired the Tristars and VC-10s.

  • “I actually find it quite reassuring that the British state’s version of a ceremonial flypast over its capital city is so very modest”

    I find it reassuring that it is reported to have been unusually well-attended. London needs more spectacles like this, and fewer of the terroristic or rioting kinds it’s been having these past few weeks (and that ISIS and the Corbynistas plan for the coming months).

  • NickM

    The other biggy is a C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter.

  • NickM

    And following it is a BAe 146 regional airliner of the 32 Squadron – aka The Royal Flight.

  • TomJ

    Mr Edward: there is a legend at Cranwell of a Vulcan mate doing the fly past at an initial officer training graduation parade so low and fast that he knocked the place settings off the tables for the graduation lunch, thus earning a hard-on conversation with the Commandant. Would love to know how much truth there is in that one…

  • CaptDMO

    How quaint. Come to MY house. (USA)
    About twice a month the Warthog (and tanker/cargo) pilots train with their low altitude, mountain dodging.
    Zoom lens? Your phone-cam will do.
    Worried you’ll miss it?
    Oh,… you’ll HEAR (and feel) them coming!

  • Laird

    “I actually find it quite reassuring that the British state’s version of a ceremonial flypast over its capital city is so very modest, and that by far its most impressive moment features guys who are basically aerial ballet dancers.”

    I found that to be a rather curious comment. Flyovers aren’t air shows. I thought the purpose of these events was to demonstrate military prowess, to engender a sense of patriotic pride and instill confidence in the people. This one would appear to have failed on all counts. What am I missing?

  • John K

    Laird:

    You are missing nothing. The flypast merely demonstrated the pitiful strength of the RAF.

    The BBC commentator also said that two Spitfires and a Hurricane would be in the flypast, it was in fact two Hurricanes and a Spitfire.

    Poor old Hurricane, it never gets the credit it deserves!

  • Laird’s comment is why I hate flyovers at sporting events.

  • bobby b

    “I thought the purpose of these events was to demonstrate military prowess . . . “

    They did.

  • pete

    Life in London is so exciting.

  • Laird

    bobby b, that’s what I thought, too, which is why I was questioning the use of the word “reassuring”.

  • Laird’s comment is why I hate flyovers at sporting events.

    Being a connoisseur of avgas and as propellerhead, I rather like flyovers… but not at sporting events please. That is a bit like playing a national anthem at a club sporting event, which I really fucking hate as I loath anything that conflates civil society with state.

  • Paul Marks

    Very good.

  • bobby b

    Laird
    June 18, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    “bobby b, that’s what I thought, too, which is why I was questioning the use of the word “reassuring”.”

    Our tools condition us. If we have no tools of war, we won’t have war.

    To people who think that way, a two-plane flyover is very reassuring. They are safe. Why invite war by arming?

  • CaptDMO

    The US has ONE of it’s squadrons of 30 stealth bombers and fighters, along with the usual compliment of 20 stealth drones, that regularly fly over sporting events, parades, and public celebrations.
    The problem is, no one can ever see, or hear, any trace of them.
    I SWEAR!!!!!!
    Oh sure, a photo of ONE of these planes, sitting idle on the runway, has managed to be leaked out…

  • Surellin

    I saw an Avro Vulcan at an air show in the mid-80s. Now THAT is what, when I was a boy, I thought the future would look like. Beautiful plane.

  • Mr Ed

    Surellin,

    The Vulcan was already out of service by then, but it was a spectacle.

  • Joseph Soddall

    If it’s aircraft you want, come to Lincolnshire. Living just north of Lincoln we see the Red Arrows several times a week when they are practicing….right over the village. Then, of course, there are the odd but not infrequent sightings of BBMF Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricane and C-47. Plus the routine AWACS going home to RAF Waddington and operational Tornados and Eurofighter Typhoons. We may not have the crowding, congestion or high prices of London but we do have big skies, and aircraft to fill them, and miles of clean beaches. Until recently we had Vulcan XH558 tooling around from time to time and may have another Lancaster; “Just Jane”, back in the air in due course…a private restoration project. But can we keep all that quiet, please?

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