1605 might be a long time ago, but we still mark the attempt to blow the House of Lords into orbit by Guy Fawkes and friends. Some might possibly suggest that Parliament of recent warranted his return?
Fireworks will no doubt fly tonight, but astute visitors to the Forum will have seen Chris Gazzard's report in the Forum's "Blackbushe Airport News" section under 'Common Land De-registration'. More fireworks! Hampshire County Council have got their Judicial Review application approved, once again Blackbushe Airport takes to legal action, this time to defend itself from our County Council whose ambitions toward the business of Blackbushe are plain to see.
A reminder of past bureaucratic fireworks. Evidence of the Airport's local Council's regard for the asset on their doorstep. The unbearable sight of their blitzkreig attack on Blackbushe 'east'
..and a warning to us all from the self same council not to inflict damage on their property in any way.
Enough from me, laid low by a vigorous bronchitis bug, but never too low for POTD!
STILL plenty of time to submit your photos for the Forum Photo Competition and the pathway to glory it will lead the lucky winner to. Here's a link for those who may have missed it so far.. blackbusheairport.proboards.com/post/12705
November, a no mans land between the summer recently vanished, seasonal jollity and even thoughts of another spring. We must hope that come that spring the latest legal hurdle placed before us by the County Council will have been cleared and next summer will see the development many, including your scribe, have waited six decades to see... Meanwhile, we'll take on the winter with a daily spoonful of POTD.
A reminder of long gone seasons of mists at Blackbushe..
Hopefully none of my virulent viruses have attached themselves to this morning's POTD...no doubt if you open the window you'll hear the fevered cough blasting forth!
Although RAF Hartford Bridge was technically open from 1st November, 1942, it was on today's date the airfield's "Operational Record Book" or ORB received its first entry.
Thus on 7th November let's raise a glass to the new Royal Air Force base as she quietly looks back over the seventy seven years during which she has served us magnificently in war and peace!
The airfield that saw seen many of her young aircrews die in action as they selflessly reached into enemy skies, the airfield that in peace served as London's second airport, the airfield who today after six decades of frustration with intransigent bureaucracy and issues over ancient rights still fights for her continued operation as a General Aviation centre and security of her future.
Today we should celebrate Blackbushe Airport's life. She is unique among airfields in the south of England for many reasons, not just her varied history. There is no better placed business airfield for access to London and the generous corporate spread within 25 mile radius of her location, no better airfield for environmental suitability, and a good weather record where her situation on the Hartford Bridge plateau affords a better fog free life than others may boast.
On this day in 1942, the airfield was still far from ready for serious operations. It was not until the first week in December, 1942, that the first Squadron arrived and the sound of 171 Squadron's Mustangs brought the sound of war to RAF Hartford Bridge.
..and here's to the future!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLACKBUSHE, and "Thank you" for what you've given and continue to give...
News coming in via the BBC this morning relates yesterday's Hampshire County Council meeting.... The planned Council spending cuts of £80,000,000 over the next two years were approved yesterday. 270 jobs at risk, care under threat, street lights extinguished, and THIS is the Council pursuant of a Judicial Review to overturn the Planning Inspectorate's approval of a section of the Airport's Common Land to be de-registered. So keen are they to block Blackbushe this Council is risking maybe up to half a million pounds of our money if they lose the case... This surely has to be one of the greatest travesties of justice where a council are happy to ruin the prospects of the airfield, its tenants and staff, prospective future employment and the added support the county economy would benefit from.
Blackbushe showing just under 0C, outside cars looking very frozen and the dreaded virus continues to rage into its fifth day of self pity.. Still, no doubt plenty of pre-election mud slinging to provide the day's entertainment from the totally unbiased BBC? The Labour party announcing a ban on business jets by 2025 would have gone down well at Farnborough?
Photos offering a sunny disposition and thoughts of 2020 when maybe, just maybe, Blackbushe can add to her infrastructure if the forthcoming Judicial Review slammed on us by Hampshire County Council is suitably resolved.
Neville Browning (I think) readies for departure in the mighty Zlin..THE aerobatic aeroplane of the era, photo taken mid sixties..
Blue skies, a load of scrap helicopters and the Rallye, another non-British light aeroplane success from the 1960's era.
If Labour ban business jets I guess they'll have to put the propellers back on?
..and another sunny day from long ago. Runway 14/32 served as a very adequate aircraft park during Farnborough Week's of the past during the Arnold and BCA regimes.
Have a nice day, if you're in the Fleet area and feel the ground shaking it'll probably be just another coughing fit from the POTD offices..
Frozen cars, dark, misty, yes it's definitely November. Helped by the Mother of all chest infections one rather wishes for those blissful summer days, especially as the resultant coughing has triggered an old spinal injury back into life; just great!
The time is not for self pity, this weekend bears witness to the annual Remembrance of those who gave all in past wars. It's too easy to forget the price of our freedom today, freedom to vote and express ourselves. Sadly self expression is getting a poor reputation through social media abuse, while our votes in next month's General Election are potentially for certain parties with megalomaniac leaders whose personal leanings, quest for power, self importance and self interest appear to take precedence over the future well being and state of our union? Through all this we do have peace, and we do have freedom, hopefully facts to be kept in mind over the weekend when remembering the price paid by so many for this precious state.
For the past few years it's been my privilege to say a few words on Remembrance Sunday to a small gathering at the foot of the Blackbushe Control Tower, a task made no easier by traffic on the A30 and adverse wind direction.. This year there will be a meeting at the base of the Tower on Monday 11th November at 11.00 for two minutes silent remembrance. Two minutes in time to remember the lives given flying from Blackbushe during WW2, her resident squadrons could ask no more than our undying gratitude and a couple of minutes of respect.. The medium bomber squadrons, the Mosquito squadrons, Spitfire equipped PR squadron operations. So much courage expended in the name of peace from our runways, and today not a sign of it. Just the runways and ironic damage carried out by our local authorities..
The last Mosquito. Doug Arnold's Mossie after a sortie back in the 1980's. The sound, the shape, so evocative of the many Mosquito operations conducted from "our" airfield in earlier times..
Honoured guest. 16 Squadron were resident at Blackbushe during WW2, famous for their light blue Photo Recce Spitfires and the incredible work they achieved over enemy territory to assist plans for D-Day and other campaigns. Although 16 Squadron had moved from Blackbushe into Europe by the time this Spitfire joined them it is a genuine ex 16 Squadron aircraft - her presence at Blackbushe for the Airport's 75th was incredibly moving.
Today is for remembering. Just one of the many Blackbushe based Bostons of World War Two to whom we owe much..
Steam rollered by bronchitis and confined to barracks, a few words perhaps for this special Sunday?
This weekend, the weekend of Remembrance, is a profoundly moving time. Over recent Remembrance Sundays I'd been asked to offer words of respect and remembrance by the foot of the Control Tower for the aircrews who gave their lives flying from this airfield in World War Two. This year the ravages of bronchitis would have prevented such a repeat, but there will be a gathering tomorrow, 11th November, at 11am for a silent two minutes of remembrance and thanks. Again at the foot of the Control Tower where all are welcome to join.
Yesterday POTD showed a group of 16 Squadron pilots sitting on one their Mustangs. On arrival at Blackbushe (RAF Hartford Bridge) 16 Sqn flew the early Mustang variant before moving to their famous light blue Mk11 PR Spitfires.
The Boston Boys, and there were many at Blackbushe. The Royal Air Force and the Free French Air Force collectively took the free world's sentiments to Nazi occupied Europe.
Perhaps those of us who were born close to the end of World War Two shared our parents reactions to the value of peace and the price that was paid in its acquisition? Cities reflecting the scars of war as bomb sites were not unusual, testament to the regime who had wished us harm. We owe so much to the forces who defended our land and routed the enemy and the scourge of Nazi minds.
As a young lad born just after WW2 one's early years unavoidably involved talk of the horrors endured by so many, air raids, flying bombs, food shortages, ration books, death and destruction. Bomb sites, blackened gaps in rows of buildings remained for years, a young person just accepts what they see and evidence of war was hard to miss. But, it seemed quite normal.
Fighter aircraft and the aerial ballet that took place in our skies during the 1940's found a place in my mind long ago, fuelled by my Dad's work developing communications equipment for the RAF throughout the War my soul found a waiting space for dreams of high flight, elliptical wings, and the comradeship that was legend amid our crews. Boys Own stuff, but soul stirring, I so well recall seeing a Spitfire fly at a Battle of Britain air show in the late fifties, the moment was so profound tears just streamed down my face quite uncontrollably. It was hard to keep this emotional torrent to myself but happily most others were intent on watching and listening to the Spitfire. I have never said that before, but there you have it!
Deep emotional stirring is experienced by many when the Merlin sings, long may it be the case. When Blackbushe closed I underwent another emotional crisis. I, and so many others, found pleasure, excitement and solace simply spending time at this great airfield in the 1950's. The mix of civil and military flying, the atmosphere of this huge airfield located amid pine forests seemingly isolated from civilisation yet with the main London-Southampton arterial road running through it was captivating. All who spent time at Blackbushe could not help but feel deep appreciation of her presence.
From death it is said that new life follows. That remains to be seen, but I do know that with the death of Blackbushe Airport in May, 1960, a new life came about. I had been in a very dark place following the loss of my Mother in 1959 but Blackbushe offered valuable solace amid her activity and atmosphere. Another emotional outpouring as I sat with my trusty bike on the A30's grassy verge one summer's day..My first visit since the Airport's closure and abeam the Airwork complex this ghastly scene awaited...
A dying friend..Au Revoir Airwork.
By now at the heady age of 14 I had developed a deep respect for the airfield, an inclination to somehow do something for her future grew within my mind! During the ensuing months as the Airport was destroyed I would wander her acres, explore the tracks that lead into the forest revealing forgotten RAF huts, the bomb dump, and many signs of life that had been here years before.
The surrounding forest and its trees sighing in the wind, the only sound to be heard, provided a haunting choral backdrop. A young teenage lad stood alone, listened, and visualised the men and machines, the spirit, the gripping tension of war, the tragedies that unfolded too often. He also thought of the people who only a few months before had been the heart and soul of British independent aviation as it grew and flourished at Blackbushe Airport. The silence was deafening, but maybe he had unseen company? Sometimes it felt like it... It just felt so wrong that this wonderful airfield should be allowed to die taking with it the efforts and spirit of her past.
The years between that 14 year old seeking his own solace amid the lonesome acres of a freshly abandoned aerodrome, and today, have allowed him the luck to pursue some of the hopes he felt for its future. Tragically some of these hopes that have been repeatedly dashed by bureaucracy and its various unfortunate agendas. Today is about remembering, no better way than to quietly walk the sadly disused runways of Blackbushe and imagine the sounds and sights of her war effort as her crews departed for foreign skies, too often failing to return to their waiting billets and the comforts of home; these runways their last contact with safety, friends, family and the life they loved..
Today, hope for Blackbushe's future remains at full strength, let us hope upon hope that come Remembrance Day 2020 we can look back and remember the past six decades of struggle to preserve Blackbushe Airport's precious life as the seeds of success witness the green shoots of a new Blackbushe growing from her hallowed acres.
Our crews gave their lives in the struggle against adversity, it comes across as ironic that our bureaucrats have achieved far more damage to this airfield than any the enemy air force was able to inflict.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we will remember.
The innocents of war should not be forgotten at the hour of remembrance, war takes the lives of those who have no say in its horrors, or their safety. Nothing could have been more ironic than the loss of these innocents returning home after World War Two. Peace had been restored, their homeland of Czechoslovakia liberated. The aircraft, an RAF Liberator, fell to earth in the grounds of Elvetham Hall estate shortly after departing RAF Blackbushe due to an engine fire, all onboard perished including five young children.
Their memorial is located in the grounds of the Brookwood Military Cemetery.
It was good to be back in the bracing Blackbushe air yesterday as those in attendance paid their traditional respect and remembered the many whose flight from these runways proved to be not only their last but also an expression of the absolute courage that paid for the freedom we enjoy today.
Blackbushe Airport looked very fine in the autumn sun yesterday despite the limitations imposed upon her by those who seek to stifle her future prospects and have done so for too many decades. Those who remember how she looked in the fifties, and there are seemingly fewer nowadays, no doubt hold a secret ache knowing what she was capable of - some kind of a dream that you know was once reality but is stubbornly anchored in the memory, memories you know can never be released into reality but, nevertheless drive an endless procession of hopes and dreams of what our remaining acres of Blackbushe Airport could and should be permitted to do.. Maybe, just maybe, next year?
An extract from those anchored memories, the days when Blackbushe's resident aeroplanes were a little larger than those of today!
2019. Proof, proof that life and aeroplanes remain good partners on our old airfield witnessed by this year's "Picnic by the Planes".
"Out there" exists a huge body of support and interest in Blackbushe, having given them a number of chances to get 'close up and personal' with the Airport's operators and aeroplanes over the past years it is very clear that when Blackbushe Airport is able to develop and restore her presentation as a fully equipped airport with hangars, new modern offices, aircraft maintenance, and a new modern Terminal her pride and purpose will be fully restored despite the vacillations of those who have conspired over many years to achieve the absolute opposite.
Yesterday's bracing Blackbushe air also proved beneficial in blowing away one's bronchial condition ..
Long live Blackbushe, and all who share the 'Blackbushe bond'...
POTD is going to be brief today...but first, one of our new members is seeking a photo of Dakota G-AMRA. Do you have a photo of her that you would be happy to copy over to our new recruit? If so, please 'message' me on the Forum messages. Many thanks....
On the subject of Dakotas, here's what was once a familiar sight, the US Navy "Super Dakota" obvious by its square fin and rudder. Just a routine event back in the 50's.
Many an aeroplane caused brief hold ups of he A30's traffic flow as they were towed from south to north or vv. Contrary to some reports , they were NEVER taxied across the road.
A comment received yesterday from one of our members indicated that our Forum's photos have truly caused him to appreciate the pre 1960 Blackbushe Airport and allowed him to feel what it must have been like. Hopefully our pictures have helped others to have an appreciation of the 'old' Blackbushe and the events that caused a few of what is now the 'old brigade' to cherish the golden days of Blackbushe when for a few years we enjoyed aviation's 'golden egg' right on our door step. The old shell is still there.