Huey UH-1H

Bell Huey UH1H Tail Number: 72-21509 G-UH1H


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Latest News >Blenheim Air Show

Blenheim Air Show – Sunday 22 nd July 2007
(written by Crew Master Simon Johnson )


Saturday night saw the rain return and the Blenheim crew woke to a heavy sky once again, though the sky to the north was decidedly darker than that to the south which was heartening. Details for the flight had been put into the GPS for the route to Blenheim the evening before so come the morning, whilst enjoying the first cuppa of the day, checks were made of the NOTAMS that had been issued for that days flying. Notes were made of any ‘avoidances' that had to be taken into consideration. The weather forecast was checked numerous times with checks made for more localised weather by going on specific sites.

All equipment required for the day was loaded and secured for the first leg of the flight to Wolverhampton . As planned Rob Tierney (Pilot - pictured right), Neville Stock (Navigator), Simon (Crew Master - pictured left) and Bradley (Trainee Engineer) climbed aboard for their nine o'clock departure. Soon 509 was beating the air in her own inimitable way before gently lifting off the ground and heading south. Only on one occasion did we run into a little rain, otherwise we avoided any inhospitable flying conditions.

As we headed south careful checks were made on the fuel burn rate. This was to give Rob a good indication of how much fuel would be needed to make the return journey without the need of a refuelling stop if the weather conditions were with us. Alternative arrangements had been made for if we had to put 509 on the ground had we been unable to get back to Blackpool in one.

We landed at Wolverhampton on time and to take on a further 550 litres of Jet A1. At 10.20 we lifted for the second leg of our flight to Blenheim. It was as we were south of Birmingham that the ground below looked decidedly wet and when we flew over the Avon we saw serious flooding with the worst of it being to the west of us. As we approached Blenheim the sky was looking brighter and the Palace looked absolutely magnificent. We prepared for our landing in a field to the right of the crowd between them and the house. As always on our approach to these events we could see everything on the ground come to a standstill with everyone looking skyward to see the Huey fly past.  We were guided to our allotted spot and Rob put her down on the ground within a few minutes of our arranged arrival time.

Once on the ground we secured the rotor blades and checks were made around the aircraft to make sure all was well. Between us and the crowd there was a low wall with a double gate. Stood by the gate were two security guards who had been joined by a large number of people trying to get a closer look. Throughout the morning the guys on the gate just allowed through a slow trickle of interested people to come and have a closer look. Tracy Fitchett and her husband Douglas joined us. They had helped Rob out last year when he took 509 to Detling.

At three o'clock we checked the machine over once again and made sure Rob was happy with everything for him to do his display. Whilst we were doing that the Air Show continued above us with the likes of a P51 Mustang and Spitfire, the World War One flight and their gaggle of aircraft having a dog fight. I don't think we've seen so many aircraft in the sky at the same time at an Air Show. The BBMF came in with a Spit,

Hurricane and the Lancaster. It doesn't matter how many times you see them they are still mightily impressive and very emotive, made all the better with the backdrop of Blenheim Palace . Winston himself would have loved the spectacle of all these war birds flying overhead.


One of the most unusual displays was from Christian Moullec in his microlight and his Geese & Crane Display. To watch them following him around the way they did and come into land at the same time was just truly amazing.

Rob had strapped himself in and was waiting for the Canberra to come in to do its stint as his sign to start up and to be ready to take to the sky and follow on behind with his display. We then got a call asking him to start up immediately as the Canberra had gone 'technical' so had had to cancel. The start up sequence proved to be very popular with all heads turned in the crowd to where the whine of the turbine was taken over by the sound of the blades coming up to speed. Rob lifted 509 gently in the air and turned away from the crowd to take up his starting position. This year the flight line for the displaying aircraft was the lake to the side and rear of the Palace, in front of which there are mature trees.
Rob flew low level down the far side of the trees and started his display by popping up from behind the trees again making a tremendous amount of noise. He then proceeded to dance about the sky keeping 509 well within the view of the expectant crowd. Once again no sooner had he started his display, it was coming to an end. He is able to keep the crowd mesmerised so that the time just (pardon the pun) flies by. He returned to the field to land but at the same time making sure that there was a photo and video opportunity of the Huey in flight with Blenheim Palace in the background.
Once back on the ground we then readied her for departure to Oxford Airport to take on more fuel for the return flight to Blackpool . The afternoon had been really quite warm so we decided we would fly to the airport with the doors open to give those on the ground another photo opportunity that you can't get during the display. We were given permission to leave a little earlier than expected and as we lifted, Simon and Bradley in the back had their work cut out to wave to everybody on the ground eager to say their goodbyes.

Once on the ground 350 litres of fuel were squeezed into the tank and we headed north. We made good time cruising around a 110 knots just about all the way, only hitting the poorer weather close to home. Flying over the motorway we felt for those motorists caught in that awful traffic jam. We made it back to Blackpool for eight o'clock, about fifteen minutes earlier than we had anticipated and with less fuel used than we had calculated, due to the tail wind that had helped us along the way.

Another long but very enjoyable day had by the crew. We hope you enjoyed seeing 509 at Blenheim doing what it does best and that's making a lot of noise. Until the next time......