View From The Conservatory

A, relatively, peaceful afternoon, was disturbed by the raucous sounds of this helicopter hovering close to the road at the back of us.

Initially, we thought it was an air ambulance. However, a quick flash of its side, emblazoned with the word “ELECTRICITY “, gave the game away.

This is one of five helicopters operated by Western Power Distribution. What this one was looking for is anyones guess. Under normal circumstances these helicopters are used for the maintenance and repair of networks and also during emergency and fault conditions.

Still, it gave us a little excitement in our otherwise boring, pandemic, blighted lives.

A Rare Bird

Pre-pandemic the skies over Hampshire were fairly busy, with flights descending into Heathrow, or heading further north, interspersed with those heading to a myriad of international destinations.

Latterly, as we all know, the number of flights worldwide are very much reduced. So much so that the sound of a flight, mid evening, triggered my curiosity.

Courtesy of flightradar24

So, flying overhead was this flight.

Originating in Spain from Madrid and heading into London Heathrow, with just 10 more minutes flying time.

I’m guessing that the, near silent, Hampshire airspace will become quieter still, as fewer people are prepared to travel when the UKs new rules are activated on Monday.

Taking Flight

 Boeing 737-8FE - VH-VOK Operated by Virgin Australia
Boeing 737-8FE – VH-VOK Operated by Virgin Australia

We made a short visit to the viewing area at Perth Airport, on our way back home, after travelling up the coast for lunch. The viewing area is ideally placed for capturing photos of planes as they take off. Unfortunately that placement isn’t so good for incoming flights as they slow down and taxi away before coming anywhere near the end of the runway. But I guess you can’t have everything.

Airbus A330-243 - VH-XFE. Operated by Virgin Australia. Believed to be en-route to Melbourne.
Airbus A330-243 – VH-XFE. Operated by Virgin Australia. Believed to be en-route to Melbourne.

Airbus A380-861 - A6-EET Operated by Emirates
Airbus A380-861 – A6-EET Operated by Emirates – Final approach to Perth Airport

Some incoming flights do become visible towards the end of the runway, especially if they are big. An Airbus 380 is big, and it uses more of the runway than most other planes.

Airbus A380-861 - A6-EET Operated by Emirates
Airbus A380-861 – A6-EET Operated by Emirates

The A380 visits Perth on a, once, daily basis.

Boeing 777 - 9V-SQL Operated by Singapore Airlines
Boeing 777 – 9V-SQL Operated by Singapore Airlines

It’s a shame most other airports don’t embrace the publics enjoyment for aircraft observation in the same way as Perth has done. As a boy I had visited Gatwick to watch the planes. Had a fabulous time watching noisy Vickers  VC10s, Hawker Siddley Tridents, BAC One-Elevens and even a Lockheed Constellation.

That last just goes to show how old I am.  The point is back then we were encouraged to go and watch. Now, at most airports you can only see aircraft if you are departure side of security and if you are stopped anywhere around an airport perimeter or on top of a multi-story car park you are likely to be moved on rapidly.

So, that just leaves air shows and, with this years disaster at Shoreham, even they are under threat.

I’d just like to point out that not every member of the public is a ground-to-air rocket wielding lunatic.


Top 10 Low Pass Flyby’s Of All Time

It doesn’t matter if you agree with the titular claim, these are scary and amazing.

I received the link and the following text in an email

The first 10 seconds shows a clip from the Top Gun movie when Tom Cruise does a fly-by of the control tower.
The rest shows actual LOW PASS FLY-BYS.
Pay attention to the last one. It is numbered (#1) and it happened during a Blue Angels event over San Francisco . It was the pilots’ last show and he had nothing to lose.
Many of the boats lost windows to the sonic blast. Some of these planes were probably no more than 10 feet off the ground.
Courtesy of

I like this soundtrack so much I’ve added it here So, for your edification is Angel by Massive Attack

Congratulations Felix Baumgartner

Felix Baumgartner has safely returned to earth having successfully ascended to over 128,000 feet.

He took around 10 minutes to return to earth and to enter the history books. Yet to be confirmed it is hoped that he will have set records for the highest manned balloon flight, the highest ever skydive and to have broken the sound barrier.

One other record he was hoping to beat was that set by Joe Kittenger for the longest free fall. Unfortunately Joe Kittenger has retained that honour by a just a few seconds.

Felix Baumgartner, I salute you. You have pushed the boundaries a little further out.

Good Luck Felix

Today, weather permitting, Felix Baumgartner will make his second attempt to try to become the first man to break the sound barrier.

In free fall that is, from 120,00 feet or some 22 miles somewhere over New Mexico. This height puts him up in the earths stratosphere.

Not only will this jump set a new height record but it is hoped that Baumgartner will reach about 720 miles per hour and break the sound barrier.

To protect him during his jump Baumgartner will be wearing a special suit, similar to a space suit. This suit, which is pressurised, will provide oxygen, thermal protection, soak up any moisture that forms inside. And if the suit fails ? This is what Art Thompson, technical project director for the Red Bull Stratos Mission

“At that altitude, if the suit were to tear open — by any means — you’d start bleeding from the mouth,” . . . . “With that cold exposure, minus 60 degrees, your saliva starts to freeze up, you start oozing fluids from your eyes. The level of horror is straight out of a science fiction movie.”

The Telegraph is providing a live feed to this record attempt.

I wish Felix the best of luck.

Bloody Red Baron – Killed

Yes, on this day in history the “Bloody Red Baron” of Germany, Baron Manfred von Richthofen was shot down in France.

Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death.

A Canadian captain, Arthur Roy Brown was officially credited with the kill but we all know different.

Don’t we !!!

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