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After what seemed like a very long, wet and windy break since I last flew, I finally got airborne in January to start on the years stock photos. I had also arranged to meet up with Mark, a flying instructor mate over Derbyshire for a few air to air photos.
On the way out to Derbyshire the visibility was poor for photos but it was good to be in the air again. as I got out near the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border the light was pretty good and I added a couple more villages to my ever growing Nottinghamshire Villages Gallery. Soon, if you live in a Nottinghamshire Village, I will have a shot of it! (Famous last words!)
I soon caught up with Mark in his C42 and we flew along together for about 10 miles until I had a few good shots of his very dirty aircraft due to the amount of rain we've had that had turned our airfields into a mud bath.
I was soon heading East again towards home and in the middle of a dark wooded area was a fairytale type house poking out above the trees with the sunlight catching it. I made the small but worthwhile detour to photograph what turned out to be Beauvale House near Newthorpe. Just a mile or so further my eye was caught by the large arch shaped shadow of Beauvale Priory, a ruined 12th Century site that I hadn't photographed before.
For the first flight of the year it turned out to be quite productive.
On the 25th of February, the World famous Flying Scotsman steam train was due to make its first passenger carrying run from London Kings Cross to York following a 4 million pound rebuild. The Flying Scotsman was due to make its way south to Kings Cross on the 24th but there were rumours that it would be towed down from York rather than under it's own steam.
As the weather was just about perfect (apart from being freezing cold) I decided to get airborne to see if I could see it. After patrolling the line from Newark towards Tuxford for a while I suddenly noticed what looked like smoke in the distance and headed towards it. Luckily it was the Flying Scotsman pulling one coach under it's own steam. It seemed to be keeping to a steady 50 mph and it made it easy to get into position to get a few good photos of it.
Next day it was due to be coming north again with several carriages carrying passengers and a friend was hoping to also fly along and asked if it was possible to get photos of him flying above the Flying Scotsman. After the previous day I thought it would be no problem at all. Sadly the weather turned out to be quite turbulent but this on it's own wouldn't have stopped us. What did eventually stop us were the six other aircraft also buzzing around the Flying Scotsman. Sadly some of their airmanship left a lot to be desired and after a couple of aircraft coming closer than perhaps they should have I gave up and went home glad that I'd got some photos the day before.
In the time I was waiting for the Flying Scotsman to appear I shot a few of the villages in the area and these were: Barnby in the Willows, Beckingham, Brandon, Claypole and Claypole School, Fenton, Marston, Rolleston and Stubton and the beautiful Stubton Hall.
After several postponed efforts due to weather we finally got to fly along the River Thames heli-lane in London to shoot some stock images. We had both rear doors of the helicopter removed so Tom could shoot images to the right and I shot to the left so we could maximise our time in the air. We joined the Thames at Craven Cottage home of Fulham Football Club and heading East we past The Hurlingham Club then onto the very swanky Imperial Wharf in Chelsea. Always looking for interesting features the Chelsea Design Centre caught my eye with its three glass roof domes. We were soon passing the Royal Hospital, Chelsea the home of the Chelsea Pensioners. This is one of my favourite images of the whole flight.
Traveling at around 90mph most of the time, we were soon at The Palace of Westminster which is more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. From here I could shoot up the Mall and Buckingham Palace where the changing of the guard was taking place. Flying about five times higher than Nelson's Column we got a great view of Trafalgar Square bathed in sunshine. From here the next iconic building to come into view was the magnificent St Paul's Cathedral on the way to the Isle of Dogs we passed 30 St May Axe more commonly known as the Gherkin and one of London's newest iconic skyscrapers, the 'Walkie Talkie'. We shot the Tower of London and Tower Bridge as we passed and would do so several more times on the flight. As we approached the Isle of Dogs the first and probably best known of the business district skyscrapers, Canary Wharf was soon passing by. The plan was to turn around at the horseshoe bend in the Thames at the Isle of Dogs near the O2 Arena and make a return run along the Thames to the West.
With Tom now shooting to the North and me to the South we were both getting different views from the each other. Shooting Greenwich I got a few shots of the Cutty Sark sailing ship and museum and the Old Royal Naval College. Passing the Shard and London Eye I noticed the Oval Cricket Ground and asked the pilot if it was the Oval and he'd never noticed it before. I'm sure he'll be pointing it out on his sight seeing flights in future! Already on his list was Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club. We were soon to be leaving the Thames and shortly after we did we flew past the Royal Ballet School on our way to our last site of Sandhurst Military Academy.
The flight was an hour and it has taken me around an hour to write about this flight and add the links. The flight itself seemed to go much quicker!