Arriving early afternoon at the Elvington Air Museum, situated just south of York on the B1228, I had the opportunity to have a wander around the museum prior to the start of the night photo shoot. The main hanger was a bit cramped with airframes for any decent photography, but then they were inside for the winter period and the best place for them as well.

Handley Page Victor K.2 - XL231 'Lusty Lindy' was available most of the afternoon for an escorted close up walk around and to photograph inside the cockpit. Before the main event, Buccaneer S Mk.2/XN974, which was nose on to the Victor, was hooked up to the Ground Power Units and raised and lowered its wings and open and closed its airbrake's and rotated the bomb bay door a few times.

At 17.00, we congregated in the Chapel for an introduction to the event, a briefing on health & safety and what was going to take place during the evening. The rope barrier that had been close up around the Victor had been moved outwards to a point where, with an 18mm lens, the aircraft filled the frame but with a bit of room to spare either side. The weather was excellent with a cool breeze blowing, a clear blue sky to start with and a chance of a golden glow at sunset. Alas it was not to be. There was a haze forming and on the horizon cloud was bubbling up, which increased as dusk rolled in.  By the end of the evening, the wind had dropped and there was a clear starlit night.

The Blackburn-Turbomeca Artouste auxiliary power unit, situated in the starboard wing root of the Victor, screamed into life. For several cycles the flaps were lowered and raised, airbrake's opened and closed, Hose Drum Unit raised and lowered and control surfaces moved. Everything turned deathly quiet when the Artouste shut down with just the hum of the Houchin GPU breaking the silence. As it grew darker four pre-positioned portable spotlights either side of the nose and tail, were switched on. Later, when it was much darker, the landing lights were lowered and switched on and finally the refuelling hose was pulled out of the HDU and in the darkness you could just make out the ring of green lights around the edge of the basket.

After the photo shoot, although I wasn't able to attend, there was a talk and presentation back in the Chapel about Black Buck operations during the Falkland War by ex Victor Captain Wing Commander Barry Neal along with Vulcan Captain Martin Withers.

Many thanks to Ollie Suckling and the crew of XL231 who put in a lot of work to achieve a very successful first night photo shoot with 'Lusty Lindy'. Also thanks to the staff of the Yorkshire Air Museum for their hospitality during the event and to my brother for the driving.

Another Victor night photo shoot is being planned at Elvington for October with Mosquito NF11 - HJ711 as a possible guest aircraft.

Brian A Marshall.

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© On Target Aviation 2009