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Hot Jets

Last weekend, for those who don't folllow the airshow scene as closely as I do, was the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. I took Howard along for the first time, spending Friday and Saturday nights in a hotel in Gloucester.

We weren't very impressed with Gloucester, which empties of everyone except drunk youths from about 9PM onwards. Also, nowhere would feed us. Our hotel stopped serving at nine, so we missed our chance on the first night and ended up at Wetherspoons (who, fortuitously, had just kicked off their cider festival). On the second night we got as far as sitting down with a drink before being told that the kitchen had been closed due to a gas leak, and advised to go to Nando's. An expensive brush with an NCP car park added to my general annoyance, and next time I'll book the Ibis just outside Cheltenham.

The airshow, though, was great. We filtered our way up the queue of traffic, parked near the gates, and were sorting our gear out when the Eurofighter Typhoon took off and immediately went into a vertical, full-afterburner climb. From then on it was non-stop aviation action. We met up with the wardy/silverwindblade party, who had established base camp near crowdline front and centre, and fixed eyes on sky, with occasional breaks to wander round the static display and the trade stalls.

The Typhoon, which also closed the show, was probably my favourite, though it's always a toss-up between it and the Saab Gripen. I liked the Polish display team, Orlik (even though we made jokes about Horlicks and whether their performance would send us to sleep), who had funny little planes with eyecatching dayglo orange patches. And the Red Arrows, of course, put on a fantastic show for this, their 50th display season. The lack of an F-35 due to their grounding was a disappointment - especially for the organisers, who had splashed 'F-35 DEBUT' all over the posters - but I hope to see it in the future.

It stayed warm and dry all day, then rained on us as we rode back to Gloucester. On Sunday we had a pleasant ride through the Forest of Dean, and did the tourism thing at Clearwell Caves before parting at the junction of M4 and A350.

Calvin the cat, who had been fed by a neighbour for the 48 hours in which I was unable to perform my catsitting duties, was very pleased to see me. (He's mine until Sunday.)
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Gloucester is a hard city to love, except for its cathedral, which is amazing. I was there on Sunday, briefly...
I sort of wish I had gone along after all. =:/ I'd been pondering it, but never got around to it - the Friday, with up-close access to the Red Arrows, sounded rather appealing.

Still, the roomie went along, and took quite a few shots with his phone, which turned out quite well. We went through many of them whilst enjoying the start of said cider festival.

One aircraft I'd particularly like to shoot sometime is, of course, the Vulcan. Even now, it's a seriously impressive beast.
Best try and catch it this summer, then...

Yes, I was tempted by the Red Arrows 'pit day' too!