Friday, 11 May 2012

Operation Olympic Guardian: Typhoons by night

ZJ933 is a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 (11 Sqdn), at RAF Northolt during Excercise Olympic Guardian. Note: 36 Paveway II mission marks below the cockpit from the recent "Operation Ellamy", Libya.
As part of the preparations for this summer's London Olympics, a great deal of effort is being expended on developing the security for the games. Part of this is to put in place air defences in the London region, and at the time of writing a number of exercises are being staged. One of these is Operation Olympic Guardian, in which a number of Typhoon aircraft are being based at RAF Northolt in West London. I was lucky enough last night to be invited along to take photographs of them.

I shall put most of the pictures on Pbase, so just a couple of pictures here for now.

Just as the rain was coming in - the grey in the distance is the rain approaching. Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon F2 ZJ936 is the 3 Squadron 100th anniversary scheme Typhoon.
As the evening wore on, the rain started to tip down. By the end, it was torrential. But aside from (a) getting soaked and (b) having to wipe the front element of my lens every couple of minutes, the rain gave us great reflections on the ground. The aircraft are only illuminated by dim hangar at lights, so the exposures were the order of several seconds at ISO 200/F8-F11; with rain blowing horizontally, the lens eventually needed wiping after nearly every shot. Fortunately, I had taken a small towel with me to wipe off the camera gear in anticipation of rain, but in future I shall take more lens cloths with me -- I only had one and by the end it felt like I had dried off a whole family's washing up.
One of the locals - HS-125 ZE395 being towed into a hangar
This shoot was part of the Northolt Nightshoot series which I have been privileged enough to attend over the last couple of years. My thanks go to Squadron Leader Philip Dawe (the Graff Zeppelin!) and all his colleagues at Northolt for the invitation and for his terrific work in organising the event.

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