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So we’re minding our own business, tooling down a country lane when all of a suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s this almighty howl — the kind of hypersonic roar you don’t so much hear as feel in your breastbone and molars — and I look up through the sunroof to see the goddamned Red Arrows scream over our heads. By some astonishing chance, framed exactly in our sunroof.

Low. Real low. Low enough to scare the sheeps and the cows. Low enough to induce poor Uncle B — doing his best to keep his eyes on the road — to make hisself a little puddle.

The Red Arrows are the RAF’s Blue Angels. I saw them in Rhode Island last year and they were awesomely awesome. It’s a big ol’ nine-jet flying group. They shot over us in a formation of five, pause, four. They were coming back from an air show in Eastbourne (we saw them, way off in the distance, headed toward it yesterday).

Oh, hey, I remembered the blog Bruce writes for: And Still I Persist. Okay, no I didn’t. He wrote and told me. And what’s even more embarrassing — as I suspected — I never blogrolled it in the first place. Which is dumb because it’s a good ‘un.

Go. Read it.

I called Bruce “Poindexter” once, and he’s never let me forget it. Also, I may have threatened to beat him up and steal his lunch money. Or something. It was a long time ago and I’m unclear on the details.

And so ends a lame week in lameness. Good weekend, everyone!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 14, 2009, 7:50 pm

Also, we passed a combine harvester on the road labeled Convoi Exceptionnel — Wide Load en française. Which, I have to admit, sounds pretty spectacular.

I blurted Convoi Exceptionnel periodically, all the way home.

Poor Uncle B.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 14, 2009, 8:02 pm

I want it on record that I did not pee myself.

Damned close-run thing though.

And I’ll tell you somethig else. That ‘artist’s reconstruction’ is disturbingly lacking the ol’ hyperbole.

Afterwards, we went and ate fish and chips in the shadow of a nuclear power plant.

Funny area we were in today.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: August 14, 2009, 9:07 pm

Lame? What’s lame is that this blog is so much fun, and your writing is so engaging, and all I really come over here for is to mouse over the stoaty at the top of the page and watch ‘er run.

Comment from armybrat
Time: August 14, 2009, 9:15 pm

my twin pointed out on another site that today is V-J day…the day hirohito surrendered. Good thing my papa and twin are queer for historic dates. I didn’t see anything about this on the local or national news. God forbid we should offend the rest of the world by remarking how we saved their asses. As Trueman said “Our global victory has come from the courage…of free men and women united in determination to fight. It has come from the massive strength of arms…created by peace-loving peoples who knew that unless they won, decency in the world would end.”
No truer words have been spoken…pray that our current leaders on both sides of the pond recognize the that.

Comment from Allen
Time: August 14, 2009, 9:54 pm

So I’m driving up 395 one time and I’m passing a multi-floral hippie VW bus when I hear a roar.

I thought at first the hippies had technology, then an F-14 blew past. Fighter jet noise the sound of peace…

Comment from scubafreak
Time: August 14, 2009, 10:03 pm


Turning green yet, guys? 😉

Comment from scubafreak
Time: August 14, 2009, 10:04 pm

Allen. Try getting up close to a Harrier running up it’s engines. The F-14 had NOTHING on that little hummingbird for engine noise…..

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 15, 2009, 2:14 am

I remember returning northwards from a visit to the Aged P.’s on the Intercity to Leeds. It was one of those incredible late summer afternoons in England when everything seems lambent and slightly hyper-real. We were somewhere near Retford when a flight of Hawks (like the Red Arrows use, but these were regular RAF) shot over our train, banked at 60° in line abreast at 250m above the ground. The train noise drowned out the jet noise, so the impression was of a covey of enormous, silent, grouse flushed from a field. They hung in the sky as we zoomed past them. The entire carriage suddenly became silent, as everyone looked at his travelling companion as if to ask, “did that just happen?”

The Southeast of England was basically a very large NATO airbase until quite recently; live in Oxford in the 80’s and you probably saw more A-10’s flying overhead than the average lice-ridden Talib in a ditch in Musa Qala does today. You were much less likely to get flayed into offal by a burst of 30mm cannon fire, mind.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 15, 2009, 3:25 am

My upstairs neighbors Ryan & Sarah had a barbecue this evening on our building’s small lawn. I threw a steak on their grill (with invitation), and enjoyed the pleasant summer weather. It seems that they and their friends had been out sailing on Lake Michigan that afternoon. Tomorrow is the Air and Water Show – and today the Blue Angels were practicing up and down the lakefront.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 15, 2009, 7:44 am

I should have mentioned that, armybrat! Rhode Island is the last state in the union to celebrate VJ Day, so I remember the date well. We were the only office in the company that got the holiday.

There’s a huge stink in the papers every year, but RI is very much a union shop, and once the unions get a Monday off, you’ll never get it away from them. Several years ago, they stopped calling it VJ day and shortened it to Victory Day, but that’s as much as anyone would budge.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 15, 2009, 8:18 am

Heh. I note our own David Gillies is currently the first commenter in this Daily Mail article about the British sniper with a 1.2 mile confirmed kill. And he’s right about the Canadian sniper. I read about that. As a sometime target shooter who has difficulty keeping them all on the paper at fifty feet, I am amazed at the things snipers can do (but not as amazed as that Taliban dude).

As for Mister Gillies — I sometimes wonder how many mouthy people there are on the internet. I see the same names popping up all over. Getting on on the Mail is not easy, though. They seem to be totally random about comment moderation.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 15, 2009, 8:33 am

It’s coincidental that David Gillies mentioned our role as Airstrip One.

Only yesterday, as we stood on a beach, staring out to sea, watching another of the stragglers from the air show drift home at a leisurely just-below-Mach 1, I remarked to The Weasel how, as a child, the skies had always seemed filled with military hardware – particularly when holidaying on the East (Soviet-facing) coast.

My Observer’s Book Of Aircraft was as important to me as a bucket and spade in those awe-struck days.

There always seemed to be Royal Navy ships out at sea, too, and soldiers, sailors and airmen at the railway stations, going to and from their postings.

I suppose their fewer numbers is a good sign, though I’m far from certain.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: August 15, 2009, 8:44 am

“The Southeast of England was basically a very large NATO airbase until quite recently…”

East Anglia used to be pretty good too, quite a few years back, for the more exotic craft. Particularly in airshow season, when the skies would be alive with Lightnings, B52s and the occasional SR-71 if you were lucky. Good times… 🙂

“Getting on on the Mail is not easy, though. They seem to be totally random about comment moderation.”

Yeah, especially when you try to point out that they have somethng wrong – a wrongly captioned photo, for instance. They really don’t like that at all…

Comment from Carl
Time: August 15, 2009, 10:53 am

“There always seemed to be Royal Navy ships out at sea, too, and soldiers, sailors and airmen at the railway stations, going to and from their postings.”

For many years now it has been very rare to see service personnel in uniform when off duty. It started in the 1970s when they were discouraged from wearing uniform when off duty because too many of them were targeted by the IRA.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 15, 2009, 1:56 pm

That’s the place, Julia M!

I must be a bit older, though, as it was Phantoms, Voodoos and Super Sabres in my day.

And they wonder why we grew-up to be Americanophiles 🙂

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: August 15, 2009, 5:11 pm

Are the Arrows still flying the Hawker-Sidley Hawk?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 15, 2009, 5:44 pm

MCPO Airdale – they certainly are: though they call them British Aerospace Hawks now. Shame we lost the Hawker heritage. Shame so many fine aviation names have been lost, really.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 17, 2009, 7:32 am

Huh. Tiffany is an odd one. Kind of semi-topical and doesn’t seem to be spamming anything (the linkback goes to tiffany.com). IP hails from China.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 17, 2009, 9:12 am

Isn’t that a form of spamming–trying to get people to go to a commercial site? Looks like the content is always pulled out of a prior comment on the thread. I’ll grant it seems like a pretty lame kinda spam, given the age of the threads. . .And not something one would have expected of a reputable outfit like Tiffany’s.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: August 17, 2009, 12:16 pm

Shame so many fine aviation names have been lost, really.

Lost, never coming back and never to be repeated. I watched the (it’s the only one operational still) Avro Vulcan do a flypast a couple of saturdays ago as it went off to an airshow in the Lake District. I love that plane. It’s sexy, agile and it was designed to drop nukes on Communists.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: August 17, 2009, 2:00 pm

That’s the one they’ve just got operational again this year, isn’t it?

Lovely plane. Once seen, never forgotten…

Comment from Kenneth from snazL
Time: August 17, 2009, 4:39 pm

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Snazzle Dazzle!!

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: August 17, 2009, 10:43 pm

Prettiest jet the Navy ever flew


We called them, “Heavies”

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: August 18, 2009, 11:57 am

That’s the one they’ve just got operational again this year, isn’t it?

Couple of years ago, I think.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: August 18, 2009, 1:06 pm

I know they’ve been working on this for a few years (and the one on permanent static display at Southend Airport, which does the occasional test run up and down the runway) but I thought it was only this year they got her airworthy?

Good to know they are a REAL charity too:


Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: August 19, 2009, 11:56 am

The plane in question is XH558. According to wiki its first flight (reflight?) was in 2007. We know the pilot. He used a Vulcan to bomb Argie runways in 1982.

That’s one charity worth supporting. Even if its just to cling futilely onto our military heritage for a bit longer.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 19, 2009, 4:57 pm

Just finished reading Vulcan 607 which was about that very raid, Gibby.

Marvellous stuff!

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