A weekend away. Sounds good, but depends on where/when/what. Well this weekend was in East Kent, near Sandwich and the when (last weekend) should have provided a bit of nice weather surely, being the summer solstice on the 21st June and all that. But, no. More of that later. The what was for the Manston Air Show and the old RAF (and now civil airport) at Manston. In the RAF days it was known as a MDA, which stands for Master Diversion Airfield, when a foam carpet could be laid on the runway to cushion an aircraft landing on it that for example had complete undercarriage failure, in about 15 minutes or so. I don’t know whether it is still used for this, but it has one of the longest runways in the UK, which is why it would have been useful in this role. Manston is now an ‘international’ airport, Dutch airline KLM being a recent tenant providing flights twice a day to Amsterdam. They are trying to grow it as a regional airport, probably much needed in that peninsular of land sticking out underneath London. Anyway I digress, I was invited down by my cousin who lives locally to Manston along with his sister and brother and our wives to go to the show. Apparently it was the first air show at Manston for over 20 years so it was bound to be popular. See the show review here: http://globalaviationresource.com/v2/2013/06/27/airshow-review-south-east-airshow-2013/?fb_source=pubv1
First of all though we had to tackle the Friday afternoon ‘nightmare on the M25’ experience. No, really it could be akin to the death-drop experience at Alton Towers or Chessington World of Adventures. What is it about this piece of road that brings out the worse in all that use it, except me of course? Granted there were extensive road works from junction 7 round to the M26 turn off, but before that the driving was atrocious. People pulling in front of you without signalling, leaving a gap of at least 12 inches. Travelling right up your backside, when you are in a slow moving traffic anyway and can’t go any faster. Drivers going from the fourth lane to the slip road in one fell swoop because they either forgot they were turning off there, or more likely; they want to stay in the outside lane for as long as possible. Whatever, the driving standard is pretty poor. and since everyone is in the same situation, i.e. crawling along, you would have thought there would be give and take, but no there ain’t. Anyway a journey that should have taken under two hours took nearly three and we arrived at my cous’s tired and hungry. Fed and watered, liberally, we had already been warned that because the brother and wife and sister were also staying, we had been told that we would be sleeping in the tent on the back lawn, due to the house only having three bedrooms. When it came to bedtime, the choices had widened to the neighbours or the son’s house some 8 miles away or a blow up bed in the lounge. That’s what we opted for in the end, reasoning that it wasn’t as far to fall into bed, all the other alternatives involved travel of some kind. On reflection it wasn’t perhaps the smartest choice, getting down to (and out of) a blow up bed on the floor presents its own problems. The next morning after not the best night’s sleep I’ve glad we had breakfast and showers; a feat in it’s own right with seven people wanting to use one toilet and one shower in a short space of time, but we managed it. The it was off in two cars to Manston. We set off about 11, and spent an hour in the queue to park on the airfield. The entrance fee (for us old gits) was £10, but we could have saved our money; we could see the air display perfectly well from where we parked. Some people came from only slightly further afield and had to queue for 6 hours and then only got to Manston just before the air show finished. It was chaotic, but to be expected when the approach roads are so small and can get easily clogged. I guess we were just lucky.
Some of my pictures from the show.
The mad bit? Well l love my family to bits but they all talk at the same time on different subjects, and because they don’t always hear another person talking, all the different subjects mix up. The results are a hilarious menage. My cousin Jeff got up with his hair sticking straight up. Someone remarked that he looked like Jedward, someone else said: Oh yes Jeffward! You had to be there. The Sunday involved us all going out for a walk in Deal, which was the home of the Royal Marines Band. The locals got together and built a bandstand near the front to commemorate the Royal Marine bandsmen who were killed by the IRA twenty years in London in a bomb explosion. The bandstand is well used, and on this Sunday there was a band from BAE Systems at Rochester, my old company. They were excellent but we didn’t see all their concert, pity. The journey was uneventful and we got home, glad for a super weekend, and the company of my mad, beautiful family. Laters.
It’s the facts you squeeze in about the planes, the history, the airfields … you have such knowledge.