Lining up for departure – ‘It’s The End Of The World, As We Know It’, GVFWE


Sometimes the line-up for departure at the end of each day of a Great Vintage Flying Weekend could get rather interesting. Here we can see Air Unique’s Lithuanian-registered, LY-BIG, An-2 ‘Baltic Bear’ in front of Air Atlantique’s Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer Srs 3, G-APRS, in Empire Test Pilots’ School livery, getting ready for departure from Hullavington, Wiltshire. The de Havilland DH 85 Leopard Moth in the background belongs to Mr and Mrs Gammons, and is kept in beautiful working order. It was built in 1934, and its DH Gipsy Major 1c has kept it flying for more than 3,300 hours, a distance in excess of 400,000 miles – or 15 times around the Earth!

Why the R.E.M song title? Well, that just about sums up the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, I’m afraid. The event will (apparantly) continue in some form or other, but without any of the management structure, or personnel, which made it so unique.

I used to be drawn back each year to the UK, to whichever venue had been selected (or that Defence Estates would let GVFWE hire) just to play a small part in this unique aviation event. Terry, Peter, Chris, Col. Mike, ‘M25’, ‘Chiggers’, Julian, David and I, Ken of ‘Air Supply’, and dozens of the ‘pressed men and volunteers’ (as Terry Booker used to address us)  simply made GVFWE what it was. You could say that the whole GVFWE crew tried to live up to the motto of No. 60 Squadron, Royal Air Force, ‘Per ardua ad aethera tendo’ – ‘I strive through difficulties to the sky’.


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