"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Sioux under General


The coastal village of Reculver, to the east of Herne Bay, was the site of the testing of the bouncing bomb used by the “Dam Busters” during the war.

While on a break between assignments, my sister suggested we head for Herne Bay and the airshow. I didn’t need a 2nd invitation. An air show in England generally meant a Lancaster would be in the air, and I wasn’t disappointed. My most favourite lady of the air, I would give my eye teeth to fly in a Lancaster, but for now I would have to settle for watching it fly above my head, accompanied by another beautiful flying machine, the Spitfire. That along with the RAF Red Arrows doing a fly-by, and my day would be made!

Herne Bay is a seaside town in Kent, 11km north of Canterbury. 

Herne Bay’s seafront is home to the world’s first freestanding purpose-built Clock Tower, built in 1837; and from the late Victorian period until 1978, the town had the second-longest pier in the United Kingdom. The Clock Tower is possibly one of the earliest free-standing clock towers built in the United Kingdom.


Built mainly through private funding by one person, it is now a memorial to the 36 fallen Herne Bay volunteer soldiers killed during the Second Boer War. The tower is 26m high including the 3m weather vane, and the dials are 1.5m diameter.


Before it was electrified, the clock was wound twice a week, with the clock-winder having to climb 66 steps, turn the heavy strike winder 75 times, and the time winder 20 times, using a crank. In 1899, two old signal cannons, used to warn shipping of the location of the pier in fog, were recovered from near the end of the pier by divers. These were installed on the steps of Herne Bay Clock Tower sometime after 1900. 

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, is one of the best aerobatic display teams in the world. Flying Hawk jets, the team showcase the speed, agility and precision required by the RAF, and are ambassadors for the UK, assisting in recruiting for the armed forces. The Hawk was first used by the RAF in 1976, as an advanced flying-training aircraft and a weapons-training aircraft. The Hawk T1 is currently used for fast-jet pilot advanced flying training as well as by the

RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. 

The Supermarine Spitfire, a British single-seater fighter plane

was used extensively by the RAF and many other Allied countries before, during and after World War II, especially during the Battle of Britain. Built in many variants, there were more Spitfire produced than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. It is still very popular among enthusiasts and about 54 are still airworthy, with many others on display in aviation museums across the world.

The Avro Lancaster, a four-engined bomber designed and built for the Royal Air Force and used extensively during WWII, from 1942, and became the main heavy-bomber used for the night-time bombing raids. Powered by 4 Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, the “Lanc” was one of the more famous and most successful of the WWII night bombers, dropping over 608,000 tons of bombs during some 156,000 raids. Its long bomb bay meant it could carry the largest bombs used by the RAF, including the 1,800kg, 3,600kg, and 5,400kg loads, often supplemented with smaller bombs or incendiaries. The Lancaster was such a versatile plane that it was as modified to carry the “Bouncing bomb” for Operation Chastise, the attack on Germany Ruhr Valley dams, aka “The Dam Busters”. 

IMG_2014 LR (1 of 1)
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The word herne, meaning a place

on a corner of land, evolved from

the Old English hyrne, meaning

corner. The village was firstrecorded

in around 1100 as Hyrnan.


The corner may relate to the sharp

turn in the minor Roman road

between Canterbury and Reculver at

Herne. The town began as a small

shipping community, receiving goods

and passengers from London

en-route to Canterbury and Dover;

and rose to prominence as a seaside

resort during the early 19th century

after the building of a pleasure pier

and promenade, and reached its

                  heyday in the late Victorian

                  era. Its popularity as a

                  holiday destination has declined over the years, due to the increase in foreign travel and to a lesser                               degree exposure to flooding that has prevented the town’s redevelopment, although the annual airshow                       brings thousands of visitors to the beaches. Herne Bay is twinned with the towns of Wimereux in Nord-                         Pas-de-Calais, France and Waltrop in Germany. 

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No airshow would be complete with a few parachutists

IMG_2134 Spitfire LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2311 Hawker Hurricane and Spitfire LR (1 of 1)

The Hawker Hurricane is a British

built single-seat fighter aircraft of

the 1930s-1940s, predominantly

built for the RAF.


Overshadowed by the Spitfire, 

Hurricanes became famous during the Battle of Britain,  accounting for 60% of the RAF’s  victories in the famed air battle.       Hurricanes also saw action in         many other major battles of             WWII.

Hawker Hurricane

Supermarine Spitfire

 Provost Mk5 LR

Eurofighter Typhoon

BAC Strikemaster 

Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann

Pitts Special aerobatic bi-plane

Russian MiG-15

Westland Wasp

Avro Lancaster 

IMG_2126 Hurricane Lancaster Spitfire LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2136 Lancaster LR B&W (1 of 1)

Although the Lanc is my favourite plane, I am always thrilled by anything that flies, and thoroughly enjoy airshows, no matter where. The roar of jet engines going overhead is goosebumps stuff!

IMG_2040 Eurofighter Typhoon LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2047 Eurofighter Typhoon LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2069 BAC Strikemaster LR (1 of 1)
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IMG_2079 Bucker Bu 181 Bestmann LR (1 of 1)

Whether there are old or new planes overhead, airshows are enthralling

IMG_2354 Westland Wasp LR (1 of 1)

And of course there always has to be a helicopter or two!

IMG_2022 LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2024 Provost Mk5 LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2087 Pitts Special aerobatic biplane LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2107 Russian MiG-15 LR (1 of 1)
IMG_2111 Russian MiG-15 LR (1 of 1)

And then it was all over, red smoke drifting across the bay blown away by the gentle breeze.

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A fabulous day’s outing. 


2 responses to “Those magnificent men in their flying machines”

  1. Paul says:

    You certainly put in a lot of effort, in terms of identifying the ladies of old. Even I would battle to rattle them off!!

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