Situated on the old RAF Winthorpe airfield, two miles north east of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, the Newark Air Museum held an evening/night photo shoot over the Easter bank holiday weekend. When I arrived in the afternoon, the weather gods were not exactly smiling as there was complete cloud coverage and light drizzle but not heavy enough for wet weather gear.

During the late afternoon, rope barriers were removed from around the aircraft that were to be used for the photo shoot and preparations made for the evening event. After the museum closed to the public, there was a briefing in the café at 17.30 for the photographers and also the volunteers and Air Cadets who were in full flying kit and available for any scenarios that we the photographers would require. Following the briefing and it becoming dark enough for the lights to be switched on, we had the virtual run of the museum which some of us took advantage of for shots that we would not normally get as a member of the public. A group photo of the volunteers, re-enactors and Air Cadets, in their flying kit, was staged around Buccaneer S1/XN964 to start the event off.

The weather gods must have taken pity on us as the drizzle had now stopped and the clouds were starting to part and we very nearly had a glowing sunset. A scenario between a pilot and his navigator was quickly set up at the PR7 Canberra/WH791 to take advantage of this situation.

At 19.15 the portable lights around Shackleton Mk3 (Phase 3) WR977/B were switched on and the evening/night photo shoot got underway proper. As we were photographing the Shackleton from various angles, the MiG-23ML was having a set of lights positioned around it. By the time I arrived at the MiG a re-enactor in a bright orange East German flying suit was holding various poses, at the nose wheel and climbing into the cockpit, to allow for extended shutter speeds in the steadily darkening night. As the lights from around the Shackleton were being moved to the MiG 27K, the next aircraft on the list was the SAAB Viggen AJSH37/373918 in Hanger 2. The doors behind the Viggen were open to the darkness and the aircraft was lit in a way to give dark shadows behind it to create an impression of an aircraft sitting in a Hardened Aircraft Shelter. Another re-enactor positioned himself on the steps, as if entering the cockpit, and held that pose for a very long time.

It was back outside again for the MiG 27K with a re-enactor in full flying kit sitting on the nose wheel puffing away on a cigar. The scenario for this set piece was a hacked off Russian pilot waiting for the groundcrew to arrive to prep his aeroplane for flight. With the lights from the Mig 23ML set up at the Buccaneer, the penultimate aircraft was ready for its part. With the 'Navigator' in the back seat, the 'Pilot' was doing pre-flight checks around the aircraft before entering the cockpit where they both posed for photographs. Unfortunately, as I had a train to catch, I had to leave before the Vulcan had been lit.

With unprecedented help and access during my visit, this was a very enjoyable event with excellent and amusing banter not only between the staff but photographers as well. Many thanks to Howard Heeley, the museum staff, volunteers and Air Cadets for all their hard work and their contribution to an outstanding photo shoot for all the photographers that were there.

Brian A Marshall 


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