UK CockpitFest 2011 Highlights

From what could have been a disastrous weekend with bad weather forecast, Newark Air Museum’s CockpitFest turned out to be another great event!

Outside, many aircraft cockpit owners had brought their pride-and joy’s to display! Luckily the rain only showered briefly, and the cockpits spent most of the weekend open for visitors to sit in and “have a go”! Of the cockpits, one which shone was Darren Green’s Canberra WH779. He’s put so much effort in to getting as much of the original avionics up and running as possible, at night time it looked fantastic with all instrumentation illuminated

Visitors for this event came from all over the UK, and as far afield as Scotland, Holland and Lichtenstein! We met many interesting people with great life experiences and stories, many people connected with aviation in some way, from a Phantom / Tornado pilot, Canberra Navigator, Shackleton and Nimrod flight engineer, a Military Intelligence worker, and public visitors who’d come for a family fun day out!

I was displaying Flying (or “Flight”) Helmets, and some flight gear inside Hangar 2 with other collectors of flightgear, instrument panels, ejector seats etc… One display of particular interest was a dedicated TSR2 display by Trevor Garrod and Dave Wright, they showed one of the TSR2 ejection seats, plus a special TSR2 Mk2 helmet, some original TSR2 manuals and documentation, Iloaned them Len Dean’s TSR2 helmet. Also they showed some unique high altitude helmets. As usual the Heathcotes put on a great show of flight and survival equipment, including a Vulcan survival dinghy, mannequins and information.

My stall attracted lots of attention, especially from people who have been military pilots as the gear brought back memories and experiences, but also from Children who were at the event with their families. The children loved trying on my helmets and having their photograph taken! It’s things like the children taking an interest which makes this event so worthwhile. Unfortunately quite a lot of visitors turned up on the sunday afternoon, just as most of the exhibitors were packing up to leave, so a tip to future visitors, please come on the Saturday (all day) or Sunday morning.

The event also featured two small air displays, the BBMF Lancaster in the morning, and a Spitfire in the afternoon!

The weekend also hosted an “Aerojumble” (or “Aeroboot”) where cockpit restorers can find missing parts to complete their projects, and collectors like myself can find obscure and rare items. Along with the items on sale, were two artwork stalls, one was selling prints of awesome photo-shopped aviation photography ( The other was selling replica nose-art, fantastic pieces by a family business – these were old panels and parts of scrap aircraft, cleaned up and painted with original nose-art designs. These looked amazing and look great as a piece of stylish artwork (

The Saturday night was great fun as usual, thanks to the museum and sponsors for organising the Hog-Roast and beers! Another excellent job! :o)

Despite changes in sponsorship this year, compared to sole financial support form FlyPast magazine over previous years, the new sponsors (still including FlyPast), the museum volunteers, and visiting exhibitors made the event as memorable as previous years, and a great debt of thanks is owed… Long may the ‘Fest continue!

This year also saw the first Cockpitfest of Australia! Where 3 cockpits and various private colelctions were displayed together for the same weekend as the UK’s Fest, we were kept up to date with each otehr by blogging live from the events! 

Due to spending most of my time displaying, my photos are either form early morning, or late at night when the visitors weren’t around! Enjoy!

Cockpitfest 2011 – Saturday Evening…. Live blog!

After arriving quite late (after spending the morning changing a wheel bearing on my car…) we've had a great afternoon, met loads of great people, with great life experiences!

Here are a couple of images, taken out-and-about this evening around the museum!

Mobile internet is slowing upload speed, but will upload some more images tomorrow.

Back to Aberdeen via helicopter


Unfortunately we're not really allowed to be snapping photos in flight, which is a shame as we crossed over Donald Trumps new Golf Complex… a massive, really massive building site of blackened hillside, where plants have been burnt down to make way for the fairways; stacks of diggers re-sculpting the landscape, some very smooth green bits are already in place in amongst the site.

Fr flying across the sea (this flight was about 1 hour 30) we are kitted up with a lot of sea-survival equipment: immersion suit, inflatable life preserver, personal locator beacon, re-breather. It's quite an uncomfortable flight with all the gear on, but utterly essential if the worst was to happen, in 5°C waters….

The photo of the helicopter was taken just after leaving the terminal, through the fence.

The week offshore was good, met some great people, and got a lot of good work done.

Now got my fixed wing flight back to East Midlands.. on a Jetstream 41

Images from Cranfield, XS458 T5 Lightning

I’ve kindly been sent a couple of images of myself, from a high speed run day at Cranfield a couple of weeks ago.

The author conencting the Houchin ground generator, Closing / Opening the cockpit canopy, and standing with John in fornt of the aircraft for the photo!

It was a glorious day, we were very lucky with the weather – 2x high speed runs, faultless aircraft, and some static re-heat performances too!

Thanks to Henry. P for the images.