>What a night

>The Skea Brae event now over, it was time for the planned display.  The generous contributions meant we could put on something special.

Derek and I had talked at length and with the assistance of the pilots and a late change to the timings, it was time for the SE5A to show its agility.  The SE5A was the Spitfire of its day.  Neil Geddes put on a fantastic display and everyone around me was astounded.

John Moffat was in his element as I had given him my hand scanner tuned to the display frequency and he knew everything that was happening before it did.

Then came the Pitts Special piloted by Dai.  He really put it through its paces and it was surprising just how fast it is.  Again gasps from the crowd said it all.

At 1806 it was time for PT462.  The sound of the merlin was unmistakeable and in a subsequent coversation between Derek and myself, we both admitted to having lumps in our throat when we realised that we had achieved everything we set out to do.

It was amazing when I looked from the pier towards Hatston and the Ayre Rd, out Cromwell Road towards Carness.  I have never seen anything like it.  The number of people who had come to watch the event was, I would guess, in the 1000’s.  Even a coach tour from The Kirkwall Hotel had gone out to Hatston to watch.

The Spitfire proceeded to put on an outstanding display which left me absolutely speechless.  The howl of the merlin engine reminded me of war movies when I was peedie.

I spoke to an ex colleague today who said when the Spitfire flew over his head at high speed he had a tear in his eye.  We are absolutely over the moon that so many people took the time to come and see the event and extremely happy it seemed to be enjoyed by all.  Thank you for taking the time to come and look and hoefully you got a suntan at the same time.

Once the Spitfire radioed end of display, I had to rush to the airport so I could say goodbye to everyone.  A final wave to all, a quick flypast and the event that has consumed my life for the last 9 weeks was over.

There are so many people to thank for everything but I will attempt to do it before posting up my final photographs.

Derek Mowat for working with me side by side all the way
Stewart Wood of Garson Farm for allowing us to use Skea Brae
John Moffat for his presence, enthusiasm and memories
Loganair Engineering for their help and for providing a fantastic venue, special mention to Vic Murphy
Jonathan Hinkles, Commercial Director, Loganair, for bringing John Moffat to Orkney
Sheena Taylor for her memories, knowledge and fantastic contribution over the 2 days
David Blackman, Airport Manager for allowing public access to the ramp
Caroline Williams, Marketing Manager, HIAL for her support and exposure on the website
Airport Security Staff for their assistance in looking after the public
Info Desk Staff for assisting the public and putting up with me
Air Traffic Control for their assistance, special mention to Darren Jackson
Anthony Hodgson, Neil Geddes, Dai Heather Hayes and Jim McTaggart for their outstanding displays, their time and comittment to all visitors to the airport and the Orkney public
Richard and William Shearer for all their help and transporting John Moffat to the private viewing in their vintage car
Walter Scott for bringing his vintage vehicle to the photo shoot
Andrew Brown for using G-WIFE for the air to air shots and his company
Jean Marie Urlacher for his photographs assisted by Torquil Clyde
The Loganair pilots for giving up their usual parking spot for the two days
John Bain for his support and assistance
Scott Harcus for unknowingly allowing an invasion in his barley field
Airfayre for an outstanding buffet
Chris Wild for providing a shuttle to the hangar from the terminal
Jim Marr for driving the shuttle
The Orcadian, Orkney Today and Ken Amer and David Hartley for covering the event
David Morgan, from the Fresson Trust for his support and guidance
Radio Orkney
Everyone who offered assistance
And everyone who took the time to come and see this unique event
My wife Shona, for putting up with me and supporting me for the last 2 months
And to all those who have taken the time to thank us for this historical event
And in particular, everyone who funded the event, without whom none of this would have happened:

Derek Mowat 1000
Lawrie and Maggie Mitchell 200

C Thomson 100

Andrew Brown 200

Ian Thain 50

Jim and Jean Thompson 200

Neil & Shona Thain 200

Eddie Ratter 200

Norman Brass 200

R Clouston 100

DS Nicolson 100

Donald Mowat 100

Olly Sinclair 100

Jim Nicolson 50

MT Austin 100

Kirkwall Hotel 200

Airfayre 50

G & A Barnie 100

RAFA/Colin Wylie 100

Gwenda Shearer 100

Craigies’s Taxis 100

Wm Shearer 150

Scorralee B&B 100

Alan Peace/JD Peace 350

Andy Newlands 200

Michael Shearer 50

Leslie Alexander 100

Sandy Thomson 100

Bruce and Kirsty Mainland 200

Walter Scott 50

Colin Gregg 100

Munro’s Garage 100

Tait Orkney 100

JG Shearer & Sons 100

Liz Melvin/Ivan Stevenson 50

Charlie Kemp 200

Sheena Taylor 100

Inglis Lyon,HIAL 500

Billy McEwen 200

Grand total £6300. 

A fantastic amount of money raised over the period.

So how much did it cost to put on this display?  Good job I got an A in my arithmetic O level:

Total out £6298.52

We didn’t make a loss, nor did we make a profit, so sadly there is not enough left to make a donation.  I hope that the event more than makes up for it.

I am extremely proud that the tribute flypast at Skea Brae happened as planned, that many people met the pilots, got to see the aircraft and got the chance to meet John Moffat.  The pilots were a great bunch and kept their fees to a minimum as they were as happy as we were for them to come to Orkney.

I learned a lot met a lot of new friends and would certainly do it all again.  Before I post my final photographs I just want to remind everyone what this was all about.

On the 16th of June 1940 Winston Churchill said:

“The Battle of France is over, I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin”

At the end of the battle he said:

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

He was right on both counts, I hope between us that we have done something to honour their memory. 

Hope you enjoyed it!

>The big day arrives


After the success of the night before but the disappointment in the weather, thursday came with lots of sunshine.  A final tidy up at the Loganair hangar and move the display to the terminal and we were ready to go.  The boys from Loganair Engineering did us proud and for that we are very grateful, nor forgetting Jonathan Hinkles, Loganairs Commercial Director who organised and funded John Moffats visit to Kirkwall.  Many thanks again.

At 11am Glaitness P7 arrived en masse for their visit to the Spitfire which coincided with their project on WW2.  They had a fantastic talk from Sheena who had volunteered her services yet again and by this time, John was back in the terminal after being picked up by Andrew Brown, who kindly offered to do the pick up as I was tied up.

By this time the terminal was filling up with people asking where the Spitfire was.  At 1130, the star of the show arrived.  The Airport Manager, David Blackman agreed that  we could let the public out to see the visititor and with the help from Security, Info Desk, Air Traffic Control and others, we took people to see the aircraft throughout the day.  Many thanks to all, the feedback from the public was extremely positive.

At 12pm William and Richard Shearer and Walter Scott arrived with their vintage vehicles for a period photograph and Dai Heather Hayes arrived at 12.20.

Anthony Hodgson confirmed that all was Ok with the Spitfire and he intended to do the Skea Brae approach at 1400 and invited me to join him for the flight which was a dream come true.  Andrew Brown had taken his Cessna 182 with him and with the help of  Dai Heather Hayes, a plan came together to photograph the Spitfire from the air.

A quick word with Andrew and david Blackman found himself a willing passenger on this historic flight.  After emergency evacuation drills and parachute training it was all go.  Believe it or not I do not have one photograph of the Skea Brae low approach but I have been promised pictures by Tom O’Brien from Orkney Media Group and from Ken Amer.  Believe it or not, I also did not see any of the news clips on STV as I was never in to see them.  As soon as I get them I will share what I can.

I would like to point out that none of this could have happened without the full support of Stewart Wood of Garson Farm in Sandwick who owns Skea Brae.  He has been very supportive all the way through and nothing has been a problem.  For all who went to Skea Brae on the day, many thanks Stewart, very much appreciated.

Anyway photos from here, enjoy.

Air to air shots will be posted shortly and Skea Brae shots if I am allowed to post.  Air display photos will be posted tomorrow.  Thanks for continuing to read.

All the best.

PS John Schollay has his blog about this event at http://jonskol.co.uk/blog/?page_id=245

If you want to see the Spitfire flying over Orkney from the air, here is the youtube link courtesy of Andrew Brown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAVbFSsRfOY

>A night to remember

>My guardian angel Sheena Taylor and I got the hangar ready for the evenings festivities before lunch time and I thought I would have a reasonably peaceful afternoon but it was not to be.

Derek got a phone call saying that due to severe crosswinds, the SE5A flown by Neil Geddes could not land at Lamb Holm and he was hunting for a flat field to land.

Helped by Torquil Clyde it transpired that he had land at Quanterness. We rushed out to greet him but when we got there it was blowing a hooly so between us we wheeled it to the far side of the field but that still did not give enough protection.

Thanks to John Bain, Loganair pilot and Norman Brass who was coming through to Kirkwall, the plane was sheltered by Johns van and Neil made it to the hangar in time.

Derek and I rushed off at 1735 to ensure we could make the function. Thanks to my wife, my suit jacket was waiting on me and we had time to start pouing the drinks for the guests.

Many thanks to Chris Wild from Craigies taxis who provided a shuttle service from the terminal to the hangar as parking was limited. Also a big thanks to Richard and William Shearer who picked up John Moffat at his hotel in their beautiful vintage car.

After my introduction, Sheena gave a very interesting talk on what life was like as a trainee pilot in the war and she had also prepared displays which everyone could read during the event.

This was followed by a fascinating talk by John Moffat who recounted his experiences to all.

Then it was drinks, nibblies and meet the guests, including the main visitor PT462. I will hand over to the pictures for the next part.

There was a surprise in store at the end of the night.  We had managed to obtain the services of an outstanding stunt pilot for the night as a special treat.  At 1900 the guests were introduced to Jim McTaggart and his plane G-JIII, a Starduster.  He suited up strapped in and proceeded to put on an outstanding display.  The gasps from the crowd were plentiful as he displayed over the airport for the next 10 minutes.
Photos will follow tomorrow, sorry but I have run out of typing time again.  Worth waiting for, promise.

>The gods smiled upon us


Please bear with me, I will post updates as and when I have a minute.  I am resizing over 200 pictures as I type this. 

Day 1 , 2nd June – Suspected coronary

Wednesday started off like any other day, with the event to look forward to.  I got a phone call from Derek that they would be leaving shortly with an ETA at Kirkwall of around 1300.   The media were duly informed and we awaited arrival.

A short time later, I got another phone call saying the Spitfire had gone tech near Liverpool with an alternator fault and there was a real chance that they would not be coming.   My heart sank in the knowledge that the private viewing at 1800 was going to be a problem without the main event.

The night before, Jim McTaggart had arrived in G-JIII, a starduster biplane which was a planned surprise for the contributors on the night so all would not be lost.

I got a phonecall from Derek shortly after saying the fault had been fixed and they would be leaving shortly with an ETA of 1530.

I was also told that Neil Geddes in his SE5A was on his way and would be arriving at Lamb Holm around the same time.

Dai Heather Hayes was in touch and he confirmed due to the weather he would be arriving at lunchtime thursday.

Sure enough, around 1530 Air Traffic announced the imminent arrival so I will let the photos take over from here!

Anthony Hodgson, Spitfire owner and pilot on the left and Derek Mowat on the right

>That’s it folks

>Just a quick post to let you know that all the money that has been pledged has now been paid so we can finalise things tomorrow.  Thank you everyone, it’s been hectic but hopefully will be worth every minute.

I will try and update the blog with the ETA of the Spitfire.  the Pitts Special will be landing at 1300 local time on Thursday and all intend to depart by 1945 at the latest on thursday so here’s hoping all goes to plan.

Can I again remind people not to park at the Loganair hangar as there is not enough parking and we need to keep it clear as possible for our special guest to arrive.

If you want any further information contact me at anytime.

Best wishes and thanks again