Moths and Cess­nas gather at his­toric Hen­low

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Old Timers Re­port: An­drew March

RAF Hen­low, one of the MOD air­fields cur­rently ear­marked for clo­sure in 2019, held two rather spe­cial events in mid-au­gust. The de Hav­il­land Moth Club ar­ranged for its 2018 Gath­er­ing of Moths to take place at the Bed­ford­shire air­field on Sun­day 12 Au­gust. Af­ter many hot and sunny week­ends across south­ern Eng­land, the weather broke and se­verely re­stricted the num­ber of DH types fly­ing in to just fif­teen. What they lacked in num­bers, they made up in qual­ity. Mo­rane Saulnier-built DH60G Moth F-AYNY (pre­vi­ously G-AANV) flew in from Com­piègne, France the pre­vi­ous day, while other in­trepid over­seas vis­i­tors were Us-reg­is­tered Tiger Moth N8233 from Hil­ver­sum, Hol­land and Quax-flieger’s Ly­coming-pow­ered Chip­munk D-EFOM from Ger­many. It was good to see Fox Moth ZK-AGM/G-CIPJ, Leop­ard Moth G-ACUS, Hor­net Moth G-ADMT and DHC-2 Beaver G-EVMK amongst the hand­ful of Tiger Moths.

Two days later, in much im­proved weather, some fifty air­craft flew in for res­i­dent Cessna 120 G-BUHZ’S sev­en­ti­eth birth­day event, or­gan­ised by its own­ers and spon­sored by Tex­tron/cessna. Twenty Cess­nas, of eleven dif­fer­ent ver­sions, in­cluded the UK’S old­est Cessna 120, 1946-built G-BRXH and the world’s high­est-hours Cessna 140, G-BOCI. Built in 1940, Air­mas­ter G-BTDE was the old­est and far­thest­trav­elled Cessna, fly­ing down from Liver­pool. Among the other ‘par­ty­go­ers’ were Porter­field CP50 flown in from White Waltham by Steve Sharpe, Ely-based Auster J-2 Ar­row G-BEAH, and Nord NC854S G-BIUP, based at Tem­ple Bruer.

G-BUHZ had its maiden flight on 14 Au­gust 1948 as N3676V at Wi­chita, Kansas, and was first reg­is­tered in the UK on 1 May 1992. Orig­i­nally built with an 85hp Con­ti­nen­tal C85 en­gine and no electrics, hence no ra­dio or starter mo­tor, 'HZ now has a 100hp Con­ti­nen­tal O-200 with a light­weight elec­tric starter and a gen­er­a­tor al­low­ing an 8.33MHZ ra­dio and a Mode S transpon­der to be fit­ted. To­tal hours are ap­proach­ing 3,000−not many for a seventy-year-old ma­chine, es­pe­cially when the cur­rent group flies around 100 hours a year. When new, the Cessna 120’s ad­ver­tised pur­chase price was $2,995 (around £750 at the then ex­change rate of $4:£1). 2018-built Cessna 182T N538TA, the new­est type present, in con­trast costs around $500,000 (with $1.28:£1 the cur­rent rate).

Vy­ing with Mid­dle Wal­lop for the ti­tle of the UK’S biggest mil­i­tary grass air­field, RAF Hen­low cel­e­brated its cen­te­nary ear­lier this year. In 2018 it is, along­side Hal­ton, Leuchars, Northolt, Wadding­ton and Wit­ter­ing, one of only six orig­i­nal RAF air­fields still ac­tive. Pi­lots are be­ing en­cour­aged to sup­port the air­field’s con­tin­ued GA use by fly­ing in over the com­ing months. 48 hours PPR is re­quired to the Air­field Man­ager (Flt Lt Gavin Ni­chol­son) 01462 851515 Ext 6150. The air­field is open ev­ery day ex­cept Mon­day and gen­er­ally op­er­ates from 0800-1700 lo­cal to co­in­cide with the fly­ing club’s open hours.

ABOVE RIGHT: Old­est of the Cess­nas, Air­mas­ter G-BTDE headed an im­pres­sive line-up of post­war tail­drag­gers

ABOVE LEFT: Mo­rane Saulnier-built DH60G flew in to Hen­low prior to Sun­day’s Gath­er­ing of Moths

A cel­e­bra­tory cake for the Cessna 120

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