Sunday, July 25, 2010

24 July 2010 Farnborough Air Show - 25 July 2010

A380 Tail fin

Lyn in front of Airbus A380 tail

A380 in flight

A380 side on

Underside of Vulcan

Extracting Vulcan from crowd

Avro Vulcan

Another Vulcan pic, I really love them!



Lyn on her chair.

Red Arrows

Red Arrows 9 of them

Exit gate

Crowds trying to get out

Crowds trying to get out

This morning was a little cloudy but fine so almost perfect for going to the UK's premier airshow, Farnborough. The airshow has been held annually at Farnborough in Hampshire since 1948 and in 1962 it changed to biennial.

We caught the train from Plumstead, east of London, at 9am and connected with the 9.42 out of Waterloo station. We were surprised to find the that there was only a sprinkling of passengers on the train so we thought that maybe there wouldn't be many people there. Wrong.

The trains these days are very comfortable and whisper quiet and the trip to Farnborough took about 45 minutes. We were very impressed with the comfort and smoothness of the ride.

Australians would probably use the trains more often if they were any good but I guess we have a car culture partly due to the convenience of the car and the fact that our train services, particularly in Canberra are rubbish.

When we arrived in Farnborough there were lots of double decker buses waiting to take us to the Farnborough Air Show. All very well organised and quick.

Things slowed down a bit then as there were thousands of people entering the event and very large queues going through security and ticket checking.

By the time we got in at about 1140am there was not a lot of time to visit the pavilions and the static displays as the flying show was scheduled to start at 1230.

One of the first things we saw soaring into the sky as we walked in was this massive tailfin with A380 emblazoned across it. This belonged to an Airbus A380 aircraft and made all the others look like toys.

Mick was a bit unhappy to find that the aircraft were behind metal barriers so we couldn't walk up to them. You could arrange a tour but there were limited time slots to do it.

Anyway, after seeing what we could of the static displays, we had a coffee and found a good viewing spot to settle down and watch the display. Being the good husband he is, Mick went off to buy Lyn and Zara a seat to sit on as the airshows duration was over 5 hours.

The first aircraft to roll out to take off was the very impressive Airbus A380, the biggest passenger aircraft in the world. Unlike some of the aircraft that followed, it went right to the beginning of the runway to take off so we guessed one of it's attributes was not 'Short Take Off'.

Unlike some of the aircraft flown later, it was reasonably quiet on take off and soared off in the air. It was hard to imagine a thing of that size being propelled into the air but propelled into the air it was with four massive engines.

The A380 is almost 50% bigger in it's interior dimensions that it's nearest rival, the Boeing 747/400, and in an economy class only configuration, could carry 853 passengers with 555 being able to be accommodated in a 3 class configuration. There probably wouldn't be any airlines operating them in a single configuration as people now prefer premium seating and are prepared to pay for it, as we did.

The first A380 was sold to Singapore airlines in October 2007 and there are now 33 in service around the world. Singapore Airlines and Emirates Airlines each have 11 aircraft. Mick saw an article in the paper which said that Emirates Airlines had ordered a further 32 of them at the airshow. The show runs for 5 days, the first 3 are for trade customers and the weekend for the public.

It was surprisingly maneuverable in flight and was able to climb at a surprisingly steep angle of inclination but I guess there weren't 850 people inside it having their coffee spilt! It's a pity we aren't booked on one on our trip.

Mick won't bore you about the details of all the flying displays but suffice it to say it was a spectacular display. Lyn thought it was a bit too hot sitting out in the sun for 5 hours and she didn't much like the crowds but enjoyed the jet displays which were much more interesting than the those that were propeller driven. Mick agrees that the jet fighters and the Avro Vulcan bomber were the highlights of the show.

The only minor irritation was that behind us at the spot we had chosen to watch the display, was the Vulcan bomber which had to be brought out through the crowd and all the people had to move to make way for it. This brought 100's of people streaming across in front of us and instead of being close to the runway fence, we were now 10 rows back. We were all disappointed and thought that it could have been handled better.

Anyway as people started to make a early getaway, we gradually found ourselves back at the fence and Mick got a spot on the fence to take a video on his digital camera of the final flight of the day, which was of the Avro Vulcan taking off.

A lady had asked him what sort of plane it was as it taxied down the runway and Mick explained what it was and told her to expect noise like she had never heard before to which her husband piped up and said .. 'You haven't heard my mother-in-law then...'. Mick also told her that the earth would move and she said she was looking forward to that as it hadn't happened in a while to which the same husband said. 'Well thank you very much!'............

Anyway when it took off right next to us on the runway, it made far more noise than any mother-in-law and shook the earth far more than any husband could achieve. Wow, is the only way to describe it.

After the display had finished cheeky Mick asked her if the earth had moved for her and she said to him 'Yes it had, thank you so much...........'. Fortunately her husband got the joke.

Unfortunately, as the Vulcan was the last aircraft to fly, everyone decided it was time to go and over 100,000 people headed for the exits. Getting through the gates took quite some and as Lyn hates crowds, this didn't go down too well but we made it out of the exit to the waiting buses which were again plentiful, and soon found ourselves at the Farnborough main railway station.

As we approached the station we could see hundreds of people streaming in and our platform was packed 10 deep with people. We thought we were never going to get out of there. Then whilst we were walking across the bridge a train arrived and in minutes it was gone with all of them on it. Amazing how many people trains can hold.

Almost immediately, another train arrived and we were on it and away. What great organisation to shift such huge crowds of people.

On the way to Farnborough the train stopped at almost every station but on the way home, it only stopped at one station, Woking in Surrey, so we were back at Waterloo station in no time. We passed through Clapham Junction on the way.

Clapham Junction is one of the busiest stations in Europe and trains from Waterloo and Victoria funnel through it.

There were some disruption to services at Waterloo due to a trackside fire somewhere on the network, so we were held up for a little while. The trip home from when we packed up our chairs to when we came through the front door was 3 hours.

We were buggered when we got there.

Lyn said she enjoyed parts of it and given the opportunity wouldn't go again. Mick held a contra-view.

Listed below is the aircraft and order of flying.

•12.31 AIRBUS A380
•13.02 B52 (FLYPAST)
•13.32 DA 42 (EADS) (FLYPAST)
•13.37 C27J
•13.45 M346
•13.55 C130J
•14.02 F-16
•14.53 CHINOOK
•15.08 F-18
•16.09 EXTRA 330
•17.05 KING AIR
•17.20 VULCAN

Sunday: Up at 9.45am. An overcast day, so glad we went to Farnborough yesterday as it looks like rain.

Lyn says she slept like a log, but is a little stiff. Lyn's feet are a little swollen (the hot weather isn't helping her)and has a blister on her ankle. She has never walked so much in her life and still the weight doesn't come off. She says she is sick of going up and down the stairs to get to get on/off the trains. It is hard on the knees.

A day of rest for today. Formula 1 is on at 12 midday so we will watch that and then the MotoGP is on at 10pm tonight.

Lyn had to do the washing and is now cooking the dinner.

What a trooper she is!

PS Webber 6th in F1 and Casey Stoner 2nd in MotoGP

1 comment:

  1. HI guys! Great blog as always. I flew on an Airbus 280 from Singapore to Sydney on my way home in Nov 2008. I was disappointed overall as there was no noticeable extra room for tourist class passengers on their seats which is how I measure a plane. Sure it was nice, clean and modern but the staff seemed too busy. The plane itself is very quiet and smooth and a huge improvement over any 747 I have ever flown. But I noticed that most of the newer Airbus planes are quieter than those old 747s.