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A day in the life of pilot of XX894

Saturday 24th March 2012


It had been nearly four months since I'd run the engines in XX894 and, following the resolving of a hydraulic leak and the changing of the fuel injectors (which Francis had cleaned over the preceding few weeks), I was looking forward to running her again. Francis and Julian bled the brakes with me assisting by pressing the pedals in the cockpit, after which she was towed out to the runway. Before the crowd arrived we wanted to run her to make sure she was fully serviceable. Both engines fired up first time and all the hydraulic and electrical systems all came on-line. I took her for a short taxi around to check brakes and steering and then operated the other hydraulic services (flying controls, flap/aileron droop, tail hook, airbrake and bomb bay door), all worked perfectly.


In the afternoon XX894 was scheduled to do her first fast taxi run since August 2011, with the resplendent looking XW544 and the Cold War Jet's XX900.  My passenger in the back seat was Rob, the son of a Buccaneer pilot who sadly died while on Red Flag exercises in the USA. Rob said that his father had flown XX894 over the Atlantic to the exercise and had also flown her the day before he was killed. I gave Rob a briefing on the emergencies that we could encounter and how we would deal with them, including an emergency evacuation.  

The pilots had organised that we'd do a three ship streamed run, as we had  performed at previous Cold War Jet's Open Days. Due to our ever short fuel supply we started all engines with the aircraft in take off formation and the team did an excellent job at starting all three Buccaneers (six Speys) with one Stad in a very short time. Following a thumbs up signal from Ollie I passed back the wind up signal and set 90% power against the brakes. On receipt back of the wind up signal I let the brakes go and accelerated up to about 80 knots before chopping the power and dropping to full flap/aileron droop to aid with aerodynamic braking.

Due to Bruntingthorpe's nearly 3,000 metre runway, I only needed to apply minimal braking to stop before the end. To conserve our valuable fuel I shut down the Port engine for the taxi back to the crowd area, setting aileron/droop up, flap fully down and wings up before she was parked. The aircraft is performing well with my only report being that we need look at adjusting the wheel tracking and see if we can eradicate an asymmetry in the wheel brake hydraulics that is causing her to snatch to one side. Once again, an absolute thrill to have the opportunity to operate one of the Royal Air Force's iconic aircraft.

Mike - Pilot XX894