Header Image: The weather was kind at RAF Coningsby on Saturday 1st October and members of the RAF Memorial Flight Official Club and the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association were treated to a great day and a superb flying display as a thank you from the BBMF for their support. (Photo: Claire Hartley)
The latest in a long line of annual exclusive events, the 2022 BBMF Members’ Day was mounted by the Flight on Saturday 1st October as a way to say thank you for the support of the RAF Memorial Flight Official Club and the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association. Traditionally held at the end of the flying display season, Members’ Day sees the BBMF welcoming a large crowd made up exclusively of Club and Association members and their personal guests. BBMF Members’ Day is an exclusive tickets-only event open only to members and not to the general public.
On Saturday 1st October the weather ordered by the BBMF arrived, with blue skies, puffy white clouds and some sunshine. It was breezy on the airfield at Coningsby, but the wind was blowing more or less straight down the main runway and within limits to permit a full flying display.
The display opened with the Spitfire and Typhoon formation arrival sequence, seen at a few air shows this year, with OC BBMF, Squadron Leader Mark ‘Suggs’ Sugden, leading in BBMF Spitfire IIa P7350 and the 2022 Typhoon display pilot, Flight Lieutenant Adam O’Hare, flying grey-painted Typhoon ZJ937. After the opposition break, the Typhoon went straight into its ear-shattering full solo display.
This was followed by the classic BBMF Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire three-ship display with a crowd-rear arrival bringing the formation right over the crowd.
The Lancaster was captained by Flight Lieutenant Neil ‘Faz’ Farrell on his last flight with the BBMF after nine years with the Flight (he is moving to Lossiemouth in Scotland to fly the Boeing P-8 Poseidon). Spitfire P7350 was flown by OC BBMF, demonstrating this year’s revised full Spitfire display sequence. whilst Hurricane LF363 was flown by the RAF Coningsby Station Commander, Group Captain Matt Peterson, also on his last flight with the BBMF.
Two aircraft provided by the BBMF’s friends at Rolls-Royce, a P-51 Mustang and ex-BBMF Spitfire PR Mk XIX PS853, then displayed to add something different. Spitfire PS853 was a founding aircraft of the Flight when it formed 65 years ago this year, on 11th July 1957. It was flown by ex-OC BBMF Squadron Leader Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe.
Flight Lieutenant Giles Croft, this year’s new BBMF pilot, flew a singleton Hurricane display in the all-black Hurricane Mk IIC PZ865. The show was closed with a Hurricane and Spitfire tail-chase display, with Hurricane LF363 flown by future OC BBMF, Squadron Leader Mark Long, and Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 by Flight Lieutenant Andy Preece on his last day of full-time service in the RAF (he will continue to fly with the BBMF next year as a part-time reservist).
On the ground, the extremely well-organised park-and-ride system, with double-decker buses ferrying people quickly and efficiently to and from the car park which was used for the first time this year, was very successful; perhaps a surprise to some. Many commented that the bus tour through the RAF Coningsby base, seeing things not normally seen by the public, actually added to the day’s experience, whilst queuing times were probably shorter than for the previously-used entrance. A good number of stalls in the hangar, including one manned by the Club’s own team, provided additional interest and retail opportunities, as did a variety of historic vehicles and a small display of static aircraft, including the specially-painted display Typhoon known as ‘Blackjack’.
The 2022 BBMF Members’ Day met with universal acclaim from those who attended and was a brilliant day enjoyed by all.