Last week I had the opportunity to shoot the Vulcan XL426 at Southend Airfield. A great opportunity to get “up close and personal” with the plane of my childhood dreams. I have a vivid memory of seeing one of these beautiful monsters rock Biggin Hill back in the sixties (I was very young!). The howl emanating from the twin jet engines as it roared up into the sky was ear splitting. The memory of it sends shivers down my spine, even now.
Since then, I have desperately wanted to see this beautiful delta wing in the air again. But it wasn’t until 2015, at Eastbourne’s Airbourne that I witnessed the restored Avro Vulcan XH558 in all its flying glory. The Vulcan had again been made airworthy following a 10 year restoration by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust. Although, I must admit to being ever so slightly disappointed that it wasn’t doing the rocket style manoeuvres I remember fondly as a child. But then what could one reasonably expect from a plane 55 years old? It was however, an incredible sight watching it graceful circling the skies over Eastbourne, much to the delight of the crowds sitting on the beach (and me). I did manage to get some pictures and one or two have made it onto this site.
Sadly though, 2015 was to be the final year in which XH558 flew. You can read more about the reason for it’s final grounding here. Wikipedia also has plenty of information about this wonderful plane too.
So it was with a great whoop of joy when I came across a website called Timeline Events which runs events for photographers with an historical twist. One of the events advertised was the chance to shoot Vulcan XL426 with historical enactors thrown in. Perfect!
This was to be a late afternoon, evening shoot. So there was likely to be some interesting changes of light to get some interesting and different shots. And of course perhaps the chance to shoot the plane against a sunset – if the weather was good. Remember, this was in February!
The shoot was divided into three; (1) in late afternoon sun, (2) at sunset and (3), night time with enactors.
(1) The sun shoot provided great opportunity to find some shots with bright sunlight reflecting off the plane.
(2) As the sun set, a golden glow settled over the airfield giving me what I think was my best shot of the day.
(3) The night time session was perhaps the most challenging. Constant lighting was provided and enactors were placed and frozen for a minute or more while we all snapped away with long exposures.
The shoot was very well managed both by Timeline Events and our hosts, Vulcan Restoration Trust.