The Group

On Target’s foundations lie firmly within the Cottesmore Aviation Group, founded in early 2005, initially with an interest in Joint Force Harrier Operations at RAF Stations Cottesmore and Wittering. With a growing membership the group ventured into organised tours from April 2006.

With thanks to our supportive membership a large number of tours have taken place since then, with thousands of Pounds donated annually to Station Charities and Aviation Heritage Projects.

A revision of the group’s aims was undertaken during the autumn of 2007, in recognition of our diverse membership base and their interests; as a result the Coningsby, Northern Outpost and Reach Hunter Aviation Groups were formed to operate under the On Target website & forum banner.

In early 2008 the On Target Staff were approached by the owner of Bruntingthorpe based Buccaneer XX894, with a view to formally adopting the aircraft and assisting in fund raising to preserve the aircraft as a living memorial to the aircrew lost flying the type in British service. We hope to organise a number of 'Buccaneer experience days' for 2009.

On Target also have an excellent relationship with the well know Lightning Preservation Group, also at Bruntingthorpe, and the Panton Family’s Lancaster at East Kirkby – special access events take place throughout the year and regular updates can be found on the forum, with more information about the aircraft available via the aviation heritage section.

If you would like to be considered for group membership, please contact our Membership Co-ordinator at membership@on-target-aviation.com - annual membership is £10.00 per person. PLEASE NOTE that in order to protect the group’s excellent reputation we do vet all membership applications by reviewing past conduct on various aviation forums.

Thank you for your interest in On Target and the Cottesmore, Coningsby and Northern Outpost Aviation Groups; the staff look forward to meeting you on a tour or at a fence line in the near future.

 


The Staff

 

Pete Thompson Group Co-ordinator, 'On Target' Feature Writer   

Pete’s interest in aviation began at an early age, fuelled by his father’s service in the RAF during World War Two, and a view from his bedroom window of Vulcan's on approach to RAF Waddington. This was increased by his attendance at RAF 'At Home' days at Waddington and RAF Finningley in the 60s so and early 70s.

In 1977 he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the RAF, serving 24 years, as a Crash Rescue Fire Fighter. He was based extensively in the UK and North West Europe, including Wildenrath, and Gutersloh where he took part in Harrier Force field exercises. Pete also served at RAF Finningley in the early 80s and saw RAF air shows from the 'other' side. In 1985 he served at RAF Scampton, providing fire cover for the 'Red Arrows', the 'Vintage Pair' and RAF Central Flying School, which often gave rise to more daily movements than some stations now see in a week.

Pete has had the privilege to work with several NATO air forces and has experience of F-15, F-16, F-100, F-104, Saab Draken, and Mirage V operations.

If pressed, Pete will state that his favourite aircraft is the F4 Phantom, with the Harrier GR.3 and GR.7/9 coming a close second.

He is a passionate supporter of today’s RAF. In addition to enjoying photographing military aviation subjects, he is also interested in the history and development of Aircrew Assisted Escapes Systems.

Living in Stamford, Pete is married to Jacqui and has two children, Chris and Claire, all of whom deal with his aviation madness admirably!

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Stuart Yates 'On Target' Technical Advisor 

Stu's interest in aviation started in 1980 when he visited that year's Sywell airshow, which saw him witness his first Red Arrows display, and it was this that got him well and truly hooked on the hobby. A visit to Waddington show which featured a Vulcan and Buccaneer scramble quickly followed - As Stu says himself, what better way to get you interested in aviation is there ?

It wasn't long before the TTTE was set up at RAF Cottesmore and living in Leicester it was only a short hop to see the new Tornado, and with having every Friday afternoon off work it provided the perfect excuse to have a ride out there. When an ex-neighbour moved to within a stone's throw of Binbrook, it then got even better, with so many days spent at Donna Nook watching A-10s etc in the mornings and then at the crashgate at Binbrook in the afternoons. Stu's quest to shoot the ever elusive SR-71A Blackbird also led to many visits to RAF Mildenhall.

Stu says, "These days as we all know the glory times have passed but with the coming of the digital age photography has never been better, and thanks to groups like this and the access it can provide makes the hobby just as interesting as twenty or so years ago if a little more frustrating some times."

As for work, well when not sat in front of a computer at home manipulating images Stu also does it as a trade as well, working at a Lithographic Platemakers and Digital printing company.

His other hobbies include Motorsport photography, which he describes as being great for improving your panning technique, but combining the two hobbies means there's not a lot of free time in the summer months, but they do compliment each other quite well, with the cars and bikes being mainly at the weekend.

Stu uses Canon cameras and has the 1DMKIIN as well as a 10D and he uses them in conjunction with Canon 17-40mm L, 24-105mm L and 100-400mm L lenses.

His work has featured in many magazines, both aviation and motorsport related, with his last published aviation image (a BA747 emerging from the fog with its own cloud above its wings) was printed in Airliners World magazine, another German publication and will feature on a DVD box cover of a soon to be released title in the US. It also received more than 200,000 unique views on airliners.net.

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Andrew Hay Group Artist

Aviation Art has been a passion for Andrew since an early age. He started illustrating aircraft at the age of 12, and over the years has worked with watercolour, oil, acrylic and currently in digital media.

Andrew’s work has been commissioned and presented to many organisations worldwide including the Pentagon, as well as other Armed Forces both in the UK and US. In 2006 his work was published in both Aircraft illustrated and Combat Aircraft Publications on regular occasions.

Andrew also uses a Canon 20D with a Sigma 50-500mm lens to capture elements that he then translates into his various illustrations.

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Al MacNeish Membership Co-ordinator

Al lives within a stones throw of one of the RAF's busiest airfields, Lossiemouth in Moray.

Growing up in Elgin when the Royal Navy were operating from HMS Fulmar (now RAF Lossiemouth), Al was always within sight of the varied aircraft types in the circuit. With such influences it may come as no surprise that Al joined the Air Cadets at an early age, allowing him to develop his interest in military aviation further. In later life Al returned to the Air Cadets as an instructor.

Al's other interests include hang gliding, and it is from this pursuit that the strong interest in photography developed. Al currently uses the Canon 40D with 28-105mm and 100-400mm lenses.

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Craig Wise Webmaster

Craig spent his early years in Lincolnshire, with RAF Manby just a 'stones throw' away from his parents home. Naturally as the home of the RAF, Lincolnshire had plenty to offer the aviation enthusiast in the mid 70s and Craig spent much time visiting airfields such as Binbrook, Coningsby and Waddington. 

Unsurprisingly aviation became a career for Craig when he left school, joining the RAF in 1988; his first posting was to 51 Sqn at RAF Marham and after seven years Craig joined the civilian world, but contiuned to serve for another five years on a part time basis with 2503 RAF Regiment, at RAF Waddington.

Craig has a real interest in aviation photography, currently using a Canon EOS-400D & 40D camera teamed up with the 17-85mm and 100-400mm Canon L-Series lenses. He has also recently had his first photo published in Air Forces Monthly.

A new career path for Craig recently appeared, when in October 2007 he gained a recognised qualification in web design. The results of his first major project can be seen as you review these pages. 

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On Target Contributors

Ray Brooks Airband Expert

Ray's extensive knowledge of the airband scene meant he was a must to join the Cottesmore Aviation Group Team.

Born and bred in Norfolk, Ray's first introduction to aircraft when watching Boeing B-29s, known to the RAF as Washington's, going in and out of RAF Marham. As anyone from the area will tell you, back in the good old days the skies would be full of aircraft on a daily basis, with Hunters and Buccaneers, Woodbridge based F-4Ds and F-111s out of Lakenheath regularly being seen, whilst Vickers Varsities often performed low-level training over the strawberry fields of Upwell.

After Ray left school he developed a great passion for the radio side of the hobby and he made a point of logging all "MAC" (Military Airlift Command, as it used to be known, now better known as "Reach") flights in and out of Mildenhall. As many will know, Ray's username on many of the internet forums is "Reach90016", and this represents his last C-5A - an aircraft that took him "a mere" 35 years to get!

Ray was forced to finish work on the railways after heart problems, and now spends his retirement around the airfields of the UK, acquiring his first digital camera in 2005. He now owns Canon EOS-350D and EOS-400D bodies, and Canon 100-400mm IS and 17-85mm lenses, and has had a few pictures published already in the Radio Users Monthly magazine.

 

Brian Marshall Feature and Report writer   

Brian almost certainly has aircraft in the blood, stemming from a long line of military personnel, with his father and before him his grandfather and grandmother being in the RFC and WRAF respectively. Still working at an RAF station - Wyton, and with an impressive pedigree- Brian was invited to join the team as a Feature and Report writer.

His first encounter with the RAF was being held upside down by the ankles by a Wing Commander and given a good slapping when he was born in RAF Hospital, Ely. Having spent his first five years at RAF Wyton his father was posted to Singapore in 1960 for two years, and on his return to Britain moved to RAF Acklington.

Even at Boarding School in Northumberland, aeroplane's were never far away as the school was used as a ground marker for aircraft coming off the Otterburn ranges 18 miles away, both day and night. The rest of Brian's life has been spent living on or around various RAF camps and has returned to RAF Wyton working as a Civil Servant, hopefully to his retirement.

On leaving school in 1971, he went to work for a firm of Architects and learnt the art of Architectural Scale Drawing. Having been made redundant from Architecture after seven years, and with his interest in aeroplane's, he put his artistic skills to use and is now an accomplished pen and ink illustrator who specialises in military aircraft. He has had scale drawings, articles and photographs published over the last 30 years in Aviation News, Aircraft Modelworld, International Flying Model Designer & Constructor, Scale Aviation Modeller International and Mushroom Model Magazine, to name just a few. His output was mainly available in the Plastic Kit Constructor and on a more regular basis to 21st Century Plastic Modeler Magazines until they ceased publication on the editors’ retirement. He has also provided scale drawings, colour schemes, decal artwork and construction drawings for HALLAM- VAC and AEROCLUB model making cottage industry firms. His style of producing three-quarter view portrait pictures of aircraft using pen and ink on tracing paper with a cross-hatching technique that over the years has become his trademark , and has so far not been copied.

Since 1980 Brian has worked as a civil servant for the Royal Air Force. His first job at RAF Scampton was on the 'Bomber Washing Flight', washing Vulcan's, but most of the time was spent sweeping the floors, under and around them, in No3 hanger. He then moved to RAF Finningley, when his father was posted there, to work as a mess hand in the kitchen of the Junior Ranks Mess. After 12 years he became a messenger, delivering mail to the various sections and squadrons around the station and this gave him access to hangars and flight lines. With RAF Finningley closing he moved full circle and in 1995 returned to RAF Wyton. He is now employed as an Admin Coordinator looking after a cadre of Pilots and Navigators who are dealing with the airworthiness and flight safety issues for all the RAF’s fixed wing aircraft. He lives close to his place of work in St Ives in Cambridgeshire.

His interest in aviation photography started about the same time as the aircraft scale drawings but the photographs were purely for reference. To draw an aeroplane accurately you need a lot of detailed information. Wherever possible he would do a walk around of an aircraft photographing as much of the airframe as he could in close up detail. Unless a new aircraft comes along that needs a detailed walk around, he has now started to concentrate more on acquiring photographs containing the whole airframe in their natural elements both on the ground and in the air.

Brian has never really had a preference to one type of aeroplane or another but with Duxford being just down the road, he has developed a liking for aeroplane's with fans on the front of them.

 

Mark Meades Proof Reader and Report Writer

Mark's interest in military aviation photography started off way back in 1986. Armed with his sister's Kodak disc camera he attended that year's RAF Coningsby open day.

Two years passed before he moved on to a manual focus SLR despite having attended many airshow's in between.

In 1990 Mark purchased his first Canon auto focus SLR and teamed it up with a 400mm lens.

Mark's been loyal to Canon ever since, shooting a mixture of slides and prints right up to June 2004 when he made the switch to digital.

His work has been published in AFM and Aircraft Illustrated as well as RAF display brochures.

The need to see something different led to his first overseas airshow in Sweden in 1995 and his passion has led to visits to many countries worldwide since in search of more exotic types, and in Mark's own words, "Long may this continue!".

 

 


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© On Target Aviation 2008