RAF Marham 30/03/2016 – ZG750 Arrival

RAF Marham 30/03/2016 – ZG750 Arrival

After a stonking two and a bit hours at RAF Lakenheath, we headed to RAF Marham, which we understood would be the destination of the desert pink Op GRANBY 25th anniversary schemed Tornado GR4, ZG750, which we’d heard was on the line at RAF Lossiemouth.

OK, so the story goes that a crack was discovered in the wing-sweep mechanism on this particular airframe.  XV(R) Squadron’s engineers were unable to fully rectify it at Lossie, so it was patched up sufficiently to allow a one-time ferry flight to the BAE Systems facility at Marham where the extent of the damage would be fully assessed and, hopefully, repaired.

With the aircraft’s future uncertain, we felt we had to be there to get it while we could.

Upon our arrival, “Marham 31” (almost certainly OC31 himself) was taxying out to the Runway 24 threshold.  He was followed soon after by “Marham 71” and a little while later by “Marham 63”.

Somewhere in between an Eastern Airways Jetstream arrived and then departed again to RAF Lossiemouth.  Since these aeroplanes are used to shuttle BAE employees around, the obvious assumption was that this was taking a BAE crew up to Lossie to bring ‘Pinky’, as we’ve dubbed her, to Marham.

However, that assumption proved to be unfounded when I got a message shortly after to say that Pinky was already being crewed.  Subsequent messages advised that she was both taxying and then airborne, using the callsign “Lossie 518”.

The sky was far more overcast than it had been at Lakenheath just a short time earlier, and we knew we would need a little luck if the stars were to align, particularly so since it was highly unlikely that we’d get more than one approach from her.

Marham 31 had already landed, whilst Marham 71 was bashing the circuit when Lossie 518 called up on approach.  After performing a run and break it was quite clear that we were essentially screwed.  There was no way in the world that Pinky would find the gap in the cloud that we so badly wanted her to.  What made it worse?  She was in glorious sunlight a few hundred yards further out on the approach….

Our heads dropped.  Gutted.

Then the unthinkable happened!  The power came back on, and it wasn’t reverse thrust!  She was going again!

Casting our eyes skyward once more, a large hole was by now just a few seconds away from revealing the sun, and, without wishing to count our chickens too early, it was hard to see how we wouldn’t get what we were craving.

Sure enough, the second approach was in lovely light, with dramatic dark grey clouds finishing off the picture behind.  Not only that, she rolled again, so there was even time to change angles slightly!  What a result!

We really had no right to expect those extra circuits, but most welcome they were.

Mission number 2 of the day completed successfully, we headed to RAF Mildenhall, where it became clear that we’d used all of our luck up during the morning!  Hey ho, you can’t win them all! 

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