Wednesday dawns, and the POTD 'editorial team' is required to attend matters elsewhere... thus "POTD" must be delivered post-haste. Today's flash back goes to the 1950's, the monochrome days, an era of standards so different from those of today. Like growing older, we don't notice the gradual changes until one day the mirror speaks the truth! Wednesday, the day when "early closing" once was rife, the shops would shut at lunchtime and remain so until next morning..
I must close early today too, so....
The sights that still flicker on the memory over half a Century since they first played... the chestnut paling, one of life's best recalled fences!
Blackbushe, south of the A30, the scene of many airline logos. Silver City, Britavia, Falcon, Orion..Hermes, Vikings, Bristol Freighters, names that time has all but erased.
Large or small, Blackbushe's residents became so well known to the young chaps who frequented Blackbushe on their bikes to soak up all they could of the airfields's unique activities.
Nobody in those hallowed days of the late fifties would have predicted the way the main apron would spend the following half Century..divided,
..or where Britain's independent airline industry found its feet, and wings, would part transcend to this at the whim of Government thinking and the schemes of local bureaucracy...
Today one's hopes are focused on far better things at Blackbushe - it's just a matter of time, and now my time is up.... Have a nice day!
Squeezed a new photo into the Forum's "header" position.. an aeroplane that almost matches the Forum's background blue colour! The Avro Anson that kindly supported our 2016 Air Day and the 2017 75th Anniversary celebrations.. Flown by an F-35 development test pilot, sponsored by Shuttlewoth and British Aerospace Systems, their 'Annie' brought a wide smile to more faces than one by accepting their invitation to join us. There is little more rewarding than after months of working in the 'back room' trying to bring a Blackbushe event together when cometh the day the fruits of your work appear in the circuit. When solid reality materialises after much 'dreaming and scheming'.
Another Anson angle..she's a lovely lady whichever way you view her.
So, here we are. Nearly Easter. Weather looking good, the roads will no doubt be grid locked.. In a world that is clearly less inclined toward religion it's fascinating how we cling to the holidays it provides. Easter weekends at Blackbushe hold memories of extremely variable weather conditions, none particularly good, I think it was around 1965 that a USAF Dakota arrived to collect a parachute team - Easter Sunday, and Mother Nature put on several heavy snow showers for additional entertainment.
Another 1960's USAF Dakota visit. The Three Counties Aero Club Air Show long ago in the era of long hair, hippies, The Beatles, and so I'm told, 'free love'..
Perhaps for old time's sake, a few photos that recall life at Blackbushe in the 1960's, moments that meant much to me....?
There was a big air show, sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, much military involvement, marquees, marching men and memories. The entire airfield turned into an exciting mass of activity - just for a few days.
The RAF provided a sizeable attraction.. The Argosy, or "Whistling Wheelbarrow" as it was affectionately known.
On one quiet day in 1963 the French Air Force arrived. Their Dakota carried members of the Free French Air Force who were stationed here in Word War Two, members of the famous Lorraine Squadron returned to see what was left of their old home. Sadly our Government and local politicians had largely destroyed the Airport by then...
From the air we had the availability of six runway headings! One had to be careful to give the correct orientation when moving the "T" on the Airport's signals square...
Much loved "Pretty Louise". G-AOPL. The Three Counties Prentice! Pleasure flying at the weekends brought commercial flying back to Blackbushe. I loved it!! Selling tickets to one and all, I was the ticket agent, passenger handling agent as I assisted our customers in taking their seats before departure and assisting them deplane at journey's end. She was a joy, like flying in a Lancaster less three engines..and she was so big. A real aeroplane, if I dare say so...
The Army Air Corp would quite often drop in during the week making the apron that much more interesting..
On the other side of the apron, the agony went on as the Parish powers continued to destroy all they could....
The US Navy hangar remained a witness to bygone Blackbushe..
Farnborough Week in the sixties... Blackbushe still lived!!
This lot were dumped here for ages. A total pain in the butt..
The AVM's Dove finished its days by rotting in the public gaze for far too long..
Magic happened in the new lock-up hangars. The creation of an Avro 504 replica, for example. Work of the late Maurice Robinson and Viv Bellamy.
Quite amazing how much 'life' has risen from this bleak scene, the Blackbushe Airport given up by her owners, HM Government... Perhaps, as Easter arrives it may not be long before we may celebrate another arising alongside the traditional Easter one? The arising of Blackbushe at last able to build the facilities cruelly taken away at the start of the sixties??
..and so many wonderful friends, many of whom are no longer able to share the Blackbushe air. Sadly missed, they are always alive in my mind..Here Reg Venning and Benjy Wilmer ponder over HUG's engine..
However we look at it, the spirit of Blackbushe endures!
Good Morning, it's Good Friday. Amazingly the weather is looking good, at 06.00 Blackbushe is indicating a tad below +9C while the weather man (sorry, person..) is promising much higher readings later. On a British Bank Holiday? If this is Attenborough's 'climate change' it's a change for the better!
I understand from a kind mole located 'elsewhere' that yesterday's POTD recall of the sixties went down well. On that basis, we can but go back to the era when many photos were black and white and grainy, but nevertheless told the truth... The editorial staff will just need to ferret around in the vaults to find more material to feed the kind mole from elsewhere. Forum members are invited to make comments too, feedback on one's prattling would be useful?
Back to the sixties, or thereabouts......
Perhaps some ancient light reading to start the day?
"The Star", May 4th, 1978.
You will note that Councillor WF Brown (last paragraph) from Berkshire County Council tabled a motion in support of Blackbushe Airport to be forwarded to Hampshire County Council. Councillor WF Brown was my late father who held a very different viewpoint toward aviation and Blackbushe than many across the County border!!
Right, let's fly back to the sixties! Runways ALL in service.. no gravel extraction nudging around the Airport's edges, the Kart track down in the valley was popular then as it is now, although today it looks more like a true motor racing circuit. The 'valley' provided a fun place for aeroplanes to disappear during the occasional flying display! During the Three Counties Aero Club show we conducted a mock 'air race' with the club aircraft which entailed a tail chase zooming into the valley and hopefully up and out the other side. Amazing fun, but obviously outside the precinct of CAP 403 and the all powerful bodies concerned with our health and safety issues? From my recall, the last time an aeroplane had cause to use the Kart track valley was to mark the end of a burning Fokker during the 1977 Blackbushe Air Festival. A convenient way to exit stage right with smoke pouring from the defeated foe.. Of note is how the area outside of the perimeter track has become overgrown with scrub and uncontrolled forestation. The Airport is losing its once 'wide open' aspect.
The sixties were a sad (tragic) time for Blackbushe 'east' as those with ideas that did not meet with aviation conspired to provide the content of this view...
On 'our side of the fence' life returned to the airfield, especially when the Daily Telegraph held their air show and the National Sky Diving Championships in 1968..
The other local aerodrome, famous for Cody's activities and where air displays have also been held, provided a very different kind of clientele to the cash laden elite who tread her pastures nowadays. I assume that such a photo may be viewed as treason giving away such state secrets and the whereabouts of the RAE's lovely old ladies and A Shed that is no more...Nobody tried to shoot us down.
Oops, I took another! The RAE's long lost centre of great minds. Thank goodness for FAST who keep Farnborough's achievements alive. We need something similar at Blackbushe to keep her history alive too, as well as POTD and Rob's great studies. How about, "BASH", "Blackbushe Airport's Sensational History".
In those far off days while some of us were still VERY young and even more of us were yet to be born, the aeroplanes at Blackbushe were usually canvas covered over a steel tube frame and reliant upon trusty DH engines. Engines started by one's need to swing the prop and hope... Brakes on, throttle set, switches off..sucking in... (having tickled the primer through that nice little hand sized hatch in the cowling). Throttle set, CONTACT! Ooomph, a few swings and usually all would be well. If it flooded make sure the switches were definitely off and the throttle wide open before cranking the prop in reverse over a few compressions to remove the offending excess in your pots. British engines with non-metal props that rotated clockwise were easy enough, the American engines with sharp metal props that went round the other way were somewhat more daunting.. Happily, everything still in place. Oh yes, I know it's Easter, one should NEVER forget the chocks.....
Blackbushe Aero Club operated two of these back then...The Fairtravel Linnet built by AVM Bennett's business over at Denham.
Back in 1992 I had to sadly reject the offer of an F-16 by the Netherland's Government to take part in the Airport's 50th Anniversary celebrations. This one could not be objected to by anyone, it was made of plastic and arrived on the back of a lorry. Looked the part during the Daily Telegraph Air Show long ago... Maybe a plastic Viking for gate guard duties? Probably hard to come by...
On a wet day long ago one was joined by the Queen's Flight. She looked very grand sitting on the apron..the helicopter, that is!
I snapped this from my Dad's car as we passed the Airport in 1964. So hard to understand why the authorities would not take the large sums of cash offered by the Airport to take over the entire Terminal, to maintain it and put it to use. Hampshire County Council instead opted to abuse it by storing land maintenance equipment in the main passenger lounge while tolerating more and more windows broken courtesy of passing vandals and ever increasing dereliction. The final insult being two thirds of this magnificent and historic building cruelly demolished at rate payers' expense by the power within Hampshire County Council. One had to question the motivation as to destroying an asset for which the bureaucrats had been offered very large sums of money to transfer it to safe keeping.
Now and again we'd receive an aeroplane more reflective of Blackbushe's illustrious past... Smith's 748 looked, sounded, and smelled the part...
Some of our residents conveyed looks, and sounds that were, well, different.. The wonderful (?) Aeronca 100. She was fun to fly in, even if she seemed a tad reluctant to depart terra firma. Taxiing to the 19 hold 'back then' felt like you'd done a long cross country even before reaching the runway. Such was the expanse of Blackbushe when tackled with a JAP motor bike engine attached to the assembly that followed close behind!
On that happy note, I'll bid you a good Good Friday..
Never? Easter Weekend and, yes, the sun is making another ascent into the perfect blue of another perfect day! +8.2C at Blackbushe right now, and there's plenty more to come... The 'POTD' Editorial 'team' treated itself to a few extra zzz's this morning, running behind schedule as a result hopefully still in time to catch the early Corn Flake crunchers? It would seem from recent reactions that the POTD's time machine's recent calls to the 1960's are proving popular, so lets head back again to days those of a certain vintage recall with some sentiment while those of a younger generation can share the moment while perhaps never quite appreciating those remote and desolate times supported by a precious camaraderie that was second to none..
The ghosts of Blackbushe past have, for some of us, never left. For those who frequented 1950's Blackbushe her residents seemed like old friends, take Dan-Air's G-AMSS "Two Sugars", for example.. Once AVM Bennett had purchased today's 365 acres of Airport the sights and sounds of her recent past lingered in all our minds.. For those who had worked here previously it must have been particularly hard accepting their place of work had been bull dozed to the state of a nuclear attack. Only the Terminal and the US Navy hangar remained to testify as to the past. One sunny day in 1962, 16 years old, school holidays and from time to time I'd take the ride up to the ghostly quiet Blackbushe.. I was nicely lined up on the then fully intact runway 08.. A familiar sound. A Constellation was in what today is the downwind leg for 25, 26 back then. Ahh.. Oh? The gear went down. That, I decided, was unexpected. As she ventured further east the trailing edges seemed to expand suggesting a bit of flap had been selected. The now distant Connie was making a turn to the left, a turn that concluded when the the Constellation's nose and mine were looking at each other. The mysterious 'ghost ship' continued the approach to 26 and I decided to vacate the runway as the Constellation's company seemed decidedly imminent. The detail is more vague at this point, but she came close to the original eastern boundary of the airfield before a handful of Wright Cyclones offered 'go around' sounds and the magnificent machine climbed away and disappeared in the waiting northern skies. I, of course, waved furiously, somewhat surprised by such an encounter with a ghost - that clearly was not a ghost! I think it's possible that a 16 year old cheek was slightly tear stained by the experience?
Like many others, "SS" found herself forced into the new Blackbushe, only they called it Gatwick!
Blackbushe "east", or Yateley Common, or even Yateley Country Park, depending on the skill of your imagination, has changed somewhat since the sixties. Overgrown with scrub, the Rangers have been seen attacking the tangle of recent times, but it will always stand as testament to bureaucratic bloody mindedness how this unattractive tangle could have been part restored to the Airport. They rejected many thousands of pounds and a land exchange in return for just a small portion of this precious land - it could have been earning them an income for all these years too! However, we have to live under the influence of political wizards for better, or for worse.. The RAF's Red Pelicans brought the sound of multi engines to Blackbushe 'east' for a 1960's air show, and that was indeed..Magic!
The young 16 year old who thought he was about to have a Connie for company back in '63 was still knocking around in 1977. Determined to bring something of the past back to life, he also brought some examples of types never before seen at Blackbushe for the '77 Air Festival..
Another air show arrival! The Royal Canadian Air Force returned to Blackbushe for an arly air show. Neatly landing between the AVM's red and while marker oil drums denoting runway's end/beginning..
Tail draggers were very much in vogue in the early sixties. Student pilots had to tackle the airfield's urge to swing from left to right during take off, or even appear to revolve through 360 degrees if your feet were not quite coordinated with the goings on outside - or the winds mischief! We did have six runways back then which helped with minimised cross wind influence. Three Counties dear old Auster V with a gentle Lycoming bolted to the front..G-ANIS, another old friend.
Sadly, the bureaucratic bloody mindedness of Blackbushe 'east' was there to mar the view whenever you flew in the sixties..it still is today.
Regardless of bureaucratic nonsense at the east end, we had great times on the west end..Vintage fly-ins were fun, socially and technically - it might have been on this occasion, we had three Comper Swifts lined up, the spirit of aviation still had her fingers into Blackbushe.
How near to heaven do you need to get? In the company of a Miles Whitney Straight, Comper Swift, Tiger Moth and a perfect summer's day with Sandown IoW the next stop?
Your scribe over Portsmouth, heading home to Blackbushe..
A welcome Luftwaffe visitor in the early sixties...the new Blackbushe fuel service in the background.
The Council's 'Rocky Horror Show' moved ever closer in the sixties. Like a flesh eating disease, there was little we could do...
Happy recall to finish....two of the Three Countie's Auster 6's and a Dakota. At least some of Blackbushe's once huge apron lives on to taste the tyres..
Easter Sunday. The day of great hope in the Christians' belief of new life, new life symbolised by the humble egg. Life hereafter, rebirth, some eternal destiny have long been a part of human thinking, no doubt sponsored by the species ability to 'think' and consider the consequences of one's days hitting the buffers exchanging life for absolutely nothing. Who knows? What we do know is that the airfield many of us see as worthy of new life has so far escaped eternal damnation, the one sensibly built on Hampshire's Hartford Bridge Flats in 1942. This could be the year when Blackbushe Airport at last tastes the benefits of new and 'eternal' life providing the Planning Inspectorate looks down kindly on those who surrendered themselves to the recent Inquiry. Now THAT would be an Easter egg worth having!
Glancing backwards, as we tend to on the Forum from time to time, Blackbushe Airport's final Easter Sunday as a Government owned commercial airport was 29th April, 1959. Out of idle curiosity I have spent the last precious half hour of life looking back at the air traffic Blackbushe handled during the week leading up to her last Easter Day. Here's what turned up, or should I say, some of it..
Sud Vatour emergency diversion from RAF Odiham RCAF Dakota US Navy and USAF's many movements included R5D-5, R4D-4, SNB-5, Albatross, C-118, DC-3, Neptunes, Trans Canada and Lufthansa Viscounts. ANSETT Viscount departed on her delivery flight. Vikings, too many to count. PA-24 Comanche, Irish Air Charter MS Paris Fairchild Argus..Pan Am pilot flying with Eagle. Beech 18, Phillips, Netherlands DC-6's Eagle, Hunting Clan Bristol Freighters. Plenty including Shortcut Aviation Avro York, Skyways Valettas to Eagle for conversion Britannia, British & Commonwealth Miles Gemini DC-4 Independent Anson Canadian Aero Services Doves including David brown Aero Commander HB-GOB Cessna 170 USAF Flying Club Hermes, various home based Prince, home based Sperry Pembroke RAF Dakotas, of course.. Herons Beverly's RAF Hastings RAF for Airwork
Just a selection of some of the activity during Blackbushe Airport's last Easter Week. A year later she was crucified.
A small taste of Easter Week past..
Royal Canadian Air Force.
United States Navy
United States Air Force
Royal Air Force
Gemini. All shapes and sizes present at Blackbushe in '59
British & Commonwealth
..and so on. The Blackbushe home based airlines, the US and various international military, light aircraft, all conspired to make Blackbushe a scene to behold be it Easter Week, or any other....