Monday, 7 September 2009

Airbus airday Broughton

A request from Airbus to participate in the family air day at Broughton near Chester, and a great chance to talk with thousands of people about nature conservation, bio diversity and climate change. This was too good to miss. It was also great to be able help Airbus push their brilliant photographic competition aimed at young people and linking up with the U.N biodiversity green wave project Beau the barn Owl came with me, yes to an air base and she loved it! Of course she is well known at RNAS Yeovilton as we both perform beat the military pilot as she puts her skills and those of her colleagues against the best pilots in the world and the public gets to vote on whether the birds or pilots are best. Of course Beau and her friends always win the public vote, but there again you can't beat nature, only closely mimic it.

So as guest of Airbus Beau (the Barn Owl) and I were taken into the factory area, were we saw the A380 wings stored. I'm sure at one point Beau said something like "call that a wing" just then one of the organisers explained something that was really fascinating and that was, here was a real Barn Owl looking down the wing of an A380 and this wing was modeled on an Owls wing this to reduce noise and so also gaining greater efficiency. Now that was a big wow! If you have never looked down one of these wings then they are enormous! I was told that at the end that joins on to the plane, it is so big that 2 full grown men stood on top of each other could walk around inside.

Whilst in the factory area I was introduced to Joel Sartore National Geographic Photographer (oh my god) Thinks I. "Am I not ready for this". I'm sure you would have all loved to have been flies on the wall watching this one. There was I with a Barn Owl in one hand and a Canon EOS 30D round my neck telling everyone "hey, yea I can take pictures with this" Then they bring out the KING of photo journalism, and oh no not just the KING, but the KING with a Camera round his neck, and his is so big and shiny, so much so that my poor old Canon EOS 30D just whimpered away into the background like a limp floppy camera. Seriously folks, Joel was every bit the pro you would expect and said the 30D was great in its day. (Canon, if you are reading this then please HELP!) You all must go and see Joel's pictures, regular viewers or readers of Nat Geo will be very familiar with his work. Joel's very important message which he delivered during the Airbus day was full of his own personal experience whilst on assignment for Nat Geo. The message is all the more stronger when someone sees at first hand species declining, or species on the brink, and the pure affect of climate change on wildlife and people. I suppose this is much the same as myself but with me its only on a UK scale. After meeting Joel and having a really good chat about life, the Earth and how not to use a camera, the good people of Airbus dumped me big time into the deep end as I had to go up unprepared and give a 5 minute talk in front of a huge crowd of people.

OK I did it, I desperately wanted to give out the message about the UK, about what people can do here. About species that were, and or could go on the brink, and no not in Africa, or India or even South America, but here in the UK. I really think the Airbus UN competition is a great way to get younger people involved and thinking on a bio-diversity scale, and if any of those attending are now looking at this blog, then remember that wildlife conservation can indeed start in your garden, and if you have not got one of those, than how about the bio diversity of window box, even the now amber listed (25% decline) Common Kestrel can nest in them, in other words anything is possible, but for goodness sake everyone do something.

During the afternoon Beau and I retreated back to the open day and met the public flocking in for the air display. In between talking to hundreds of people about nature conservation in the UK and the brilliant work of the Hawk and Owl Trust I did see something of the planes, though we spent most of time inside on the Hawk and Owl Trust Stand.Below is the Airbus Beluga, which I did not see fly as I was on the HOT stall. In the morning however I did see it load new wings into its belly. This plane always reminds me of what a pregnant plane ought to look like.

Then there was the huge but very quiet Airbus A380, as the A380 arrived over the run way it just seemed to fly so slowly and effortlessly, and yes just like an owl. View below is a full view flying over the runway, with the next picture zoomed onto the front a few seconds later.

Also flying today was the rarest bird in the world, and a plane I remember from my youth, the silhouette below is a shape that brings back so many memories, not just the shape but also the sound.

I would be playing as a small boy in my parents garden in Portishead and from the top of the garden I could see across towards what looked like three small mounds in the extreme distance, this was the hangers of the runway at Filton airport, from this direction would come this V shaped monster of a plane. When it flew low over the house (or so it seemed) it would suddenly point its nose into the air and thrust up into the sky over my garden, making me run for cover, the ground shake and send Dogs howling and hiding for months. This was of course the magnificent Vulcan Bomber, which at this time of my life was testing what would become the Concorde engines, so seeing this magnificent bird again really did bring back a lot of memories.
As it passed low over the Broughton runway it did suddenly tip its nose up and thrusted up, and that familiar crackling of pure real power could be heard and even a slight shake of the ground as well, not just my hair stood up when that happened but around 20 000 other peoples hair was raising as well.
If you are interested in the Vulcan Bomber, and the only one flying please go and help these wonderful people at this website

Here is one more picture of the Vulcan, sorry they are only taken with EOS 30D, maybe its time upgrade.

Thanks to everyone at Airbus for making this a great day, full of good messages great people as well, thanks also to the people of Broughton for making a Somerset lad very welcome.
Hopefully see everyone next September in Filton. Aviation and nature conservation, you see folks were there is the will, then the way will be found.


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