Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Saudi Tiffies and Tonkas: "God bless you"

Saudi Typhoon coming in to land - "God Bless You" lettering
I keep promising myself not to take any more pictures of aircraft against grey skies - and particularly not grey aircraft. But, sometimes, what can you do?

The last couple of weeks have seen "Exercise Green Flag 2013". This has been an exercise where the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force sent over some Typhoons and Tornadoes to work with the RAF. As soon as I heard this, I could not resist, and booked time off work. In the end, I only spent two sessions at Coningsby (where both nations' aircraft were based), a morning and an afternoon. My friend Graham (Flickr: NaCl1) also booked time for it and he very kindly pointed me at the best places for viewing.
Saudi Tornado 7507 afterburner takeoff
I've put a set on Flickr if you want see more pictures.

It's the first time I've seem quite so many current aircraft launching at once -- multiple Typhoons and Tornadoes going off both morning and afternoon, and begin to return only an hour or so after takeoff. There was also a Falcon which, as I understand, it acts as an ECM aircraft.
Saudi and RAF Tornadoes taxiing before takeoff
Afterburners; Typhoon; Jelly air; heat haze; ZA600/EB-G 41 Sqn
Afterburners for takeoff: : ZA600/EB-G 41 Sqn
For me, the Saudis are a rare occurrence over here, and it was a pleasure to see them. The RAF themselves were extremely accommodating to the many visitors who wanted to take pictures, and were concerned to make sure that visitors had a safe and productive time.
Crew waving at spectators; (Saudi Typhoon 7507); friendly; aircraft
Crew waving at spectators during taxi (Saudi Typhoon 7507)
The aircrew themselves seem to be happy too -- they cheerfully waved at all the visitors, and even appeared to take pictures from the back seat.

Backseater in RAF Typhoon (ZK380/BG 29 Sqn); photographing the visitors down below;backseater'; photographing the photographer
Backseater in RAF Typhoon (ZK380/BG 29 Sqn) appearing to photograph the visitors down below. This is a >100% crop resized to show the backseater. The aircraft was on a performance takeoff on full afterburner.
 I was amazed at the number of visitors from the continent -- Lincolnshire appeared to be an extension of Holland.

RAF Typhoon taxiing; Photographers; Fence; Ladder; Spotter; Wind Sock
RAF Typhoon taxiing in front of photographers

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