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A Day With Janie: P-51D Mustang at Hardwick, Norfolk - 17th July 2005

The day after a 40s dance at Hardwick Airfield, which Nosher missed due to "The BBs" commitments, there's a chance to make up for it by turning up for a "secret" open day (finding it, in the middle of nowhere, thanks to a map from DH). It's a gorgeous day, and several aircraft are parked up ready to go: a North American P-51D Mustang, AT6 Harvard, Stearman and a Cessna. All are owned by Maurice Hammond (who lives just up the road from Nosher), and are due up for "rides" and (for the Mustang and the Harvard) an airshow near Bury St Edmunds. Before they can even take off, however, a car which has been erroneously parked right in the middle of the grass-strip runway has to be towed away. Unlike regular airshows, where there are ropes and security, this is an informal affair and it's great to be able to get right up to the planes. Sitting in the prop-wash of the Mustang "Janie" (414419) as she fires up her 27-litre Merlin is an experience in itself. Later on, after Maurice returns for an hour-or-so whilst in-between gigs, Nosher and DH even use the starboard wing as a sunshade.

next album: London Trip: Borough Market and the Wobbly Bridge - 23rd July 2005
previous album: Harvest Miscellany: Sunsets, Snails, Sales and Straw - 10th-17th July 2005

DH inspects the Stearman in the morning

Janie's nose

A view over the starboard wing

The Cessna is pushed out of the hangar

A miscreant Peugeot 406 is unceremoniously hauled out of the way by a small Massey-Ferguson tractor

Maurice Hammond peers over the wing. Two of the gun-ports are visible on the leading edge - they give Janie a distinctive noise when in tight turns and dives

Maurice fuels up

It's DH's turn to peer over the wing

Janie's nose again. DH mills about in the background

The 9-cylinnder Pratt and Whittney radial (re-built in 1956) fires up on the Stearman

Maurice starts the Mustang up. Flames are visible exiting from the exhaust ports

Where we're sitting, not far away, the propwash and noise are incredible

At the same time, the Harvard is ready

Maurice taxis Janie to the end of the runway

The Harvard is in the air

The Harvard hauls its landing gear up

Janie takes off, accompanied by a fantastic roar from the Merlin engine

Biplane and Jet with contrail

A while later, the Stearman returns

Splattered bugs are cleaned off the Stearman's propeller

An RAF Auster reconnaisance plane in the hangar

DH rescues an impressive array of food from the sea of cream that leaked in his coolbox

One of the veterans returns for a visit

Janie returns after nearly three hours

Nosher gets DH to take a touristy photo of him standing by the Mustang

A plaque on the Harvard tells what it's all about

DH sneaks a few photos of the cockpit

The veteran explains what it was like to fly the Mustang in the war

The Harvard takes off to do Thurston airshow

Janie's off again to do an airshow display

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DH inspects the Stearman in the morning