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May 26

Aero Expo UK 2012 at Sywell, Northamptonshire

By Mark Attwood | Flying

I had been looking forward to returning to Sywell for the Aero Expo 2012 for a number of reasons, as these videos hopefully explain…

I don’t think it can be underestimated what a difference glorious sun can make to an event like this. From the car park attendants jokes to the smiles of the faces of the young air cadets at the gate, to the gleaming teeth of the insurance representative and the pert buttocks of the scantily clad young women just inside the gates advertising (hang on, I can’t remember what they were advertising. Note to advertiser: next time pick some girls who are not quite as fit and scantily clad. We might get around to reading the advertising then) the whole thing had a fizz about it. Saying that, this was the fist time I’d been anywhere in years that was not either:

A. Involving 5 little kids shouting Dadda every 2.3 seconds incessantly, or
B. Anything to do with business

So, hand on heart, I am not sure how much of the effervescence was to do with what without going back in time and running some completely pointless empirical testing. Suffice to say, the sun was shining and everyone seemed happy.

And why not? What could be better, apart from flying itself, than walking around a field in my home county full of splendid flying machines? Exactly.

So, what was on show?

Many lovely things, I can tell you. For the purposes of this blog entry, I shall edit myself down to the stuff I really liked. This is not meant as a definitive review of the day, just some edited highlights.

First up was something I’d read about but never actually seen in the flesh: the Robinson R66. This is a five-seat turbine-powered helicopter with a two-blade teetering rotor system. Having flown a few hours in the R22, it was good to see this big brother to the R44 sat on it’s haunches and looking pretty confident…

Robinson R66 at AeroExpo 2012

Next up were a couple of WWI replicas that caught my eye. Obviously not for sale (shame) but definitely on show were a 1969 replica of a BE-2 (which was referred to as the Biggles Bi-plane) and a Red Baron Fokke-Wolfe. I stared over the edge of the cockpit and got lost in the intoxicating smell of wood, canvas, brass and steel. It’s a kind of “airplane” smell that you don’t get anywhere else. I’m always instantly transported back to my first flight in the back of a Chipmunk aged 13 and then into my imagination in a real pea-souper over the Somme, terrified, cold and lost in one of these kites.

I really cannot imagine how incredibly tough and brave these early fighter pilots were. Replicas or not, these were inspiring sights to see on show…

BE-2 Replica Biggles Bi Plane

WWI Cockpit at Sywell Aero Expo 2012 - Can You Smell It??

And here’s the Baron…

Red Baron at Sywell Aero Expo 2012

I was rather impressed by the Pipistrel Virus on display. The importer, an enthusiastic man by the name of Sergei, said it was not yet available in the UK but that it would be soon. I was taken by the lines, the cool cockpit, the fact that it uses 6 litres every 100km and can do 150kts. Very nice.

Pipistrel Virus at Sywell Aero Expo 2012

You can get more details of this slinky Slovenian here. Sergei did say this would retail for about 90,000 Euro when it does arrive in the UK – it will be interesting to see if it can achieve that price when it arrives.

As a little P.S. I’ll show you the Biggles Teddy (from those nice people at Transair) that my daughter is so enamored with, helping me to write this post…

Biggles the Teddy - Not quite how I imagined him when I read the books by Capt. W.E Johns

and a short video of my son test flying his new RC Helicopter that I picked up at the show for £30…

If you were at the show, please do share your experiences and stories. Many thanks.