The Queen’s official birthday is celebrated by trooping the colour and a flypast by the RAF in central London. If the idea of the tourists crowds don’t appeal, it’s happily possible to watch the flypast from the comfort and attractive surrounds of Buckinghamshire.
RAF Halton holds a Charity Flying Weekend each year to coincide with the trooping the colour flypast, and welcomes visitors to what is normally a military aerodrome.
The 2011 event was held in conjunction with the Chilterns MS Centre, who held their Summer Fete, and the Berkhamsted-based De Havilland Moth Club, who had arranged various flying displays.
We arrived shortly after midday, so in good time for the flypast at around 1pm. We were struck by just how popular it was, given that we’d only heard about it through having come across photos of the previous year’s events and looked up the 2011 dates. The parking area was filling up quickly with hundreds of cars, although still had room enough for us.
We had no idea what to expect, however there was a good selection of stalls – many in military green tents that were rather in keeping with the event. Arts and crafts, traditional fete games (Tara won a coconut from the coconut shy), and the usual food and drink were all there, so everything you’d need. Many visitors had also come well prepared though with some impressive picnics, table and chairs in evidence. Well prepared to enjoy the day.
Turning towards the aircraft, the inter-war De Havilland Moths were much in evidence, with much to-ing and fro-ing. A nice selection of WWII aircraft were also on the ground. The main event was the flypast – which included most but not all of the formations seen flying down the Mall a few minutes earlier. While the Red Arrows went elsewhere, we saw the fast jets, transporters, hawker jets and the always superb Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which gave us three fabulous passes.
We headed off shortly after the flypast, just as Captain Neville’s Flying Circus was getting underway – clearly there was much going on to provide entertainment for the whole day. Next year we may well bring a picnic and make a full day of it.
Overall it’s a great local event that piggy-backs on a national spectacle. It’s free to get in, raises money for a local charity and provides a good day’s entertainment for anyone who likes to watch magnificent men in their flying machines in action.