The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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Renegadenemo
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo »

Many years later, the test pilot who subsequently carried out the service acceptance trials of the Sea Vixen (as the DH110 was later known) told me that the RAE had predicted what would happen and warned De Havilland's before the display. They went ahead anyway....
They had no choice really, they were competing with Glosters and their Meteor but another factor is that the black DH110 had additional aerodynamic aids on the leading edges that stiffened them up but they'd been stripped off the silver one during testing. He'd been flying the black one for a few days and likely thought he understood the envelope.
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Stuart Baker
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Stuart Baker »

bluebirdsback wrote:Just watched a brilliant documentry on BBC 4, ithink about the Old British jet industry. Fascinating.
Showed a bit from The Farnbrourh air show when a jet broke up in the air killing the two pilots. The engines then shot into the crowd killing 28 spectators. health and safety officials at the time had the boddies and scrap cleared away and the air show went on. Seems unbelievable this day and age. Unfortunately i got distracted so didnt catch the year or type of plane. Top marks to the test pilots though. Real heroes in my book.
I've mentioned it on here before I think, but there is a great book - "Empire of the Clouds" by James Hamilton-Paterson, which tells this story, and many others, which will take you back to an era that we will never see again.

I was glued to it from start to finish, but also remember vividly the moment when my wife pointed out to me that reading the chapter headed "Crash Landings" seemed like odd behaviour whilst sat on an aeroplane going on holiday. Couldn't see the problem with it myself!

S

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Renegadenemo
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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I've mentioned it on here before I think, but there is a great book - "Empire of the Clouds" by James Hamilton-Paterson, which tells this story, and many others, which will take you back to an era that we will never see again.
I can second that - a cracking read. In fact it shows what a mess the British aircraft industry actually was in those days with its scatter-gun approach to designing all kinds of rubbish then finding the odd gem amongst it. Well worth a look.
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sbt
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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bluebirdsback wrote:... health and safety officials at the time had the boddies and scrap cleared away and the air show went on. Seems unbelievable this day and age.
Quite believable - its long been a standard practice to carry on, if possible. What you don't want is roads needed for ambulances and rescue vehicles clogged with people leaving the event, so you carry on.

What you may find surprising is that there are, since 1996, offices underneath the display area. They belonged first to the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), then, when DERA was split into the privatised Qinetiq and the government Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Dstl. (We moved down to Portsdown West a few years ago and I don't know who is there now.)

The 'debris trace' line went through the lower car park, which was cleared. But we still used to get the display aircraft across our roofs quite low during 'low risk' manoeuvres. There were/are rules about what you can do in that bit of airspace and I believe (not confirmed) that one Russian pilot was sent home after twice breaching the Display Committee instruction NOT to do the Cobra tail-slide manoeuvre directly over us.

After you had seen the interesting bits of the display once, usually during Practice Week, it all got a bit annoying due to the noise making it difficult to concentrate and the traffic problems. We were encouraged to work elsewhere or take leave, (partly, I believe, to reduce potential casualties). But I do remember working late one evening, where I got to watch, from an otherwise empty office, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight practice their low level 'poor weather' routine in clear, golden, light. They were a lot closer to my eye level than you normally see, as I was on the upper floor and the Cody site is on a low hill (Ball Hill).

*Ends Nattering*

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Renegadenemo
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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I believe (not confirmed) that one Russian pilot was sent home after twice breaching the Display Committee instruction NOT to do the Cobra tail-slide manoeuvre directly over us.
I think I'm right in saying that it was an orange and blue painted Mig Fulcrum-Batfoxvectoredthrust thingamabob that terrified the life out of the display director when the pilot first showed what it could do. It was a few years ago now but I was down at AAIB at the start of the practice week and watched its first flight with loads of folks who'd come out to the car park to stare at this thing in disbelief. The pilot was using the vectored thrust to stand the machine on its tail whilst still travelling forwards at very high speed then waiting for the speed to decay until it seemed to stop in mid air. Then it either fell like a stone or slapped back onto its front and accelerated away. The noise was incredible when he lit it up. The other trick he was doing was to put it into an impossibly tight corkscrewing motion with the engines seemingly pointing in different directions. I was told that the display director kept trying to calm it down before banning it completely and later in the week. When I sent a message to a pal of mine down there asking what the latest was all I got back was, 'it hasn't crashed yet'.
I have some footage of it somewhere. I'll dig it out and ask the team gadgetologists to upload it or whatever they do.

Anyway, Mr sbt, never mind all that - you have me (and probably a few others) intrigued. Do tell us more about D.S.T.L.

[Edit] - Have found the Mig Fulcrum-Batfoxvectoredthrust thingamabob footage and sent it to the relevant gadgetologist. Watch this space.
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by mtskull »

Renegadenemo wrote:....the black DH110 had additional aerodynamic aids on the leading edges that stiffened them up but they'd been stripped off the silver one during testing.
Exactly. I was told, in as many words: "We told them not to take the wing fences off, but they did it anyway and that is precisely where the wing failed"
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.

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Renegadenemo
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo »

Exactly. I was told, in as many words: "We told them not to take the wing fences off, but they did it anyway and that is precisely where the wing failed"
Yeah, but the one they were using had the wing fences on. It was sidelined with an engine problem. The machine with them removed was by that time lying about as a spare. They only fired it up to keep up the contest with Glosters.
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sbt
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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Renegadenemo wrote:Anyway, Mr sbt, never mind all that - you have me (and probably a few others) intrigued. Do tell us more about D.S.T.L.

The website:

https://www.dstl.gov.uk/

The Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_Sc ... Laboratory

Basically DERA absorbed all of the non-nuclear defence establishments in 1995 - including the Royal Aerospace Establishment. Then in 2001 3/4 was sold off to form Qinetiq with the bit that remained in government forming Dstl. We do the stuff that has to be done in government, plus a bit extra where we need to keep our in-house expertise up.

This is the sort of thing we do:

https://www.dstl.gov.uk/casestudies

I work at Portsdown West (on the hill at the back of Portsmouth), in the Policy and Capability Analysis Department as an Operational Analyst providing advice on Defence Policy at various levels. Its hard to describe what we do but basically I build and use computer models that are used to provide advice to the rest of MOD on a wide variety of issues. You won't see us in the news because what we do isn't very 'press friendly' - there are no pretty pictures or explosions and our work can be quite sensitive.

Normally I would keep a low profile regarding who I work for but over a decade ago I had a paper published online and since then I have been cautiously open online about what I do.

Slightly on-topic - Andy Green was working for DERA at Farnborough, in the office and laboratory complex I mentioned above, during the Thrust SSC project.

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mtskull
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by mtskull »

Wow! Just went for a quick look and ended up sitting through it from start to finish! thanks :)
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.

sbt
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by sbt »

Hmm, that look familiar - maybe he wasn't sent home as I was told? Or the events I remember were FI 04? In any case, the Cody complex is behind the trees by the new Control Tower.

I have put together a map of the airfield to show you where we were, plus some points of interest - including a couple of Thrust SSC locations:

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid= ... 6,0.038581

The manoeuvres were carried out just about over the 'Nighthawk' Buccaneer (retired aircraft used to test night capability systems in the 90's)

WRT Thrust SSC - the Rocket Sled tests were carried out free of charge on the, as we were then, DERA track at Pendine, which is why we were listed as a sponsor.

On-topic - XH558 did a few flybys as part of the low-key private airshow that was organised for us when we left the site. We were the last Government Defence Research body to be based at Farnborough and our Military Advisor’s were the last military occupants of RAF Number One Officers Mess - the first RFC, and then RAF, Officers Mess ever. The one and only time I have seen a Vulcan in the air!

Also sort of on-topic, It have marked the site of the National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE) Pyestock, where a lot of the work on the early British jet engines was done - the Orpheus would have seen extensive testing on the rigs there.

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