Every two years Farnborough Airport hosts the most impressive and expensive trade show with billions of dollars exchanged in return for high technology and aerospace services but sadly not everything was so rosy.
For more photos of Farnborough International Airshow 2014 you can visit my Flickr page for more up to date photos of the event
The Farnborough International Airshow is always a highlight in any aviation calendar, given that it happens every two years, but it is not without controversy. The Russians were mostly denied access to come to Farnborough over the diplomatic tensions over Ukraine and there was lots of talk about the Lockheed Martin F-35B. Sadly incidents like these give a sense of uneasy tension but it wasn’t until later in the week things sadly went from bad to worse.
Tension is perhaps the most appropriate word to describe this years airshow because of the dramatic sense of international relations but also from a personal point of view I was tense and quite uneasy when walking around the trade stands. However it should be noted that I did not arrive during the first few days of the show rather going later in that week.
Two sides of me were on show for the matter. The first is careers based. Having been looking around and researching the personal options available, I thought it would be an opportune moment to just ask questions and if there is potential to further pitch my own services to the aerospace industry. The other side is the multimedia side where I would want to continue my photographic activities.
Trade shows, for me, traditionally is a time where I hardly say anything directly, but with a greater emphasis on just being curious I wanted to take the time to ask the question other than “do you have a job?” type questions. Having already come to the conclusion that my career route is complicated, I wanted to try and find out specifically what the industry wants from me and if possible what options are available.
It was also a rare first that I have managed to give away some of my personal business cards. While necessary to secure business deals at a trade show like this, I was never the type of person who would just go up to someone and just give out cards. I’d always preferred to talk one-to-one and then give out where necessary my card for further contact. However my overall response to my card design drew lots of praise. Always careful to show a level of professionalism and attention detail I still hope that by being impressive with what I’ve done things can move forward.
The main talks when walking around the stands were mostly recruitment agencies and a few organisations. The basic question I wanted to know was ‘what do you want from me?’ and what options are appropriate for my position?
The majority of the responses I got was to do with education. Having mentioned that I have a degree, it was not surprising that many questioned graduate engineering, but that option is self ruled out mainly because many companies ask for a certain classification which I don’t have, but when mentioning this point, I was informed of MSc qualifications as well as other options like company connections between education and work places.
Funding for this would have been a problem, but many pointed out that unless you can get company finances to help or have very deep pockets, the other option would be to obtain bursaries with organisations and companies that do offer it.
When I mentioned volunteering, many had a mix reaction to it but were still interested as volunteering in my case has helped me gain some sort of experience from engineering as well as giving me the chance to demonstrate potential and many organisations I visited at the stand were interested in this fact.
I was surprised to hear that one company had concerns that if I was to apply for an apprenticeship position given the background of having a degree, I probably would be excluded because as a quirk with finance through the government they would not fund me as an apprentice, had I’d applied before the government announcements to apprenticeship funding I could have a better chance.
Aviation Xtended Interview
I was very lucky to have been asked by the team from Aviation Xtended to do an onsite airshow interview. It was refreshing to finally come out and speak about my enthusiasm for aviation and a brief moment to explain what and why I am doing at Farnborough.
Interview starts: 1:14.40
— Aviation Xtended (@AviationXtended) July 16, 2014
The trade stands at Farnborough this year felt quiet than the previous Farnborough airshow, not just because of the Russians not being allowed but also because the American air forces were notably missing on the static and flying displays.
This ultimately meant that there was fewer people but it did however feel more of a focused atmosphere. The surprise is seeing only a few main engine companies. Rolls-Royce in particular had a smaller stand and Airbus completely did not have a stand in the halls, instead shifting it to their chalet.
The format seemed pretty much the same as Farnborough 2012 with most of the companies last time round being here this time round. However the most interesting stand for me was looking at the Reaction Engines stand where they only showed a few engine component parts and I had an interesting conversation with one of the staff who works there too.
What surprised me was that they displayed engine test parts including the combustion chamber as well as the cooling tubes which rapidly change the temperature of the air to make the engine work in the different phases of flight as required to go hypersonic.
The conversation was even more interesting when considering the amount of technology being tested, they seemed to be the only one who can make head way with the technology, but when pressed about the future of the technology the response was that they would like to make further investments into the commercialisation of the engine like the jet engine; moving from just research to commercial opportunity but also develop further the technology so that in the future the engine becomes more common place as it has done with the jet engine.
There was a varying array of aircraft on stands, but most notably there was a lack of any Russian aircraft types. The diplomatic spat between Western and Russian interests meant that the British government effectively refused certain access to Farnborough overall and as a result the Russian government responded by withdrawing many Russian interests for the show.
Having said that there was a lack of American involvement because of their sequestration rules strangling the air forces within America and ultimately toning down the level of participation at Farnborough. This left a sense of emptiness that I have never seen and every now and again I would hear people murmuring about that quietness.
For me this meant that there were two problems, the first is that I would have more time on foot to take photos; which were taken rather quickly and the other is a lack of open cockpit opportunities.
In fact in Farnborough Airshow 2012, there was unfettered access to many aircraft on stand but this year they were kept behind barriers throughout. It wasn’t without trying, I did manage to ask both Boeing and Airbus for their response but was given the response of trying again during the public days which, sadly I had no plans for.
— Airbus (@Airbus) July 17, 2014
@josephaviation We'll have our airplanes on static display over the weekend
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) July 17, 2014
Despite that, I’d made the most of the extra time and photographed the aircraft on stands with the best weather possible for it. But the bonus was by chance to enter an ATR 72 aircraft in which I had flown as a passenger in the past but never had the opportunity at the time to visit the cockpit. This would be the first time in over 10 years since that flight.
The ATR representative was fantastic. He allowed me to enter the aircraft, take photos in the cockpit and even had a wonderful chat all while special clients were wondering about. It was fascinating to note how comfortable sitting in the pilots seat was, everything was within reach and everything felt very similar to a cockpit of the EH101 Merlin at the RAF Museum London.
At the end of the short tour, I was asked to leave so the clients can finish of their business and I dutifully left a prompt as I could. But before leaving the aircraft stand completely, I was given trinkets as a mark of respect and appreciation for my enthusiasm for the hospitality, in which I was ever grateful during this airshow.
— Joseph Cheung (@josephaviation) July 17, 2014
The display flying was more subdued this year because of the lack of participants mainly from America but also there still is a sense that austerity is having an effect, but aside from that feeling the display goes on and got better by Friday with extra participants making it more interesting.
The A350 and Boeing 787-9 certainly stole the commercial show side but the A400M was particularly fascinating watching the aircraft take off and do some interesting banking manoeuvres.
The Eurofighter Typhoon and the Alenia/Aermacchi aircraft certainly spiced things up from the aerobatic side of things but it certainly was a personal wake up call when photographing the Eurofighter Typhoon because being so close to the flight line and not experiencing an afterburner take off for a long time, it still shocks me how violent the take off is and trying to photograph it was almost impossible.
It wasn’t until later in the week that things started to get better but it was twinned with sadness as Boeing had decided to not fly on Friday (my final airshow day) to display. This because of the international incident over eastern Ukraine with the loss of an Malaysian Airlines aircraft.
But the day wasn’t still without its own problems. The Red Arrows had finally flown in for their scheduled display and some half way through the display whilst the aircraft were moving into position into the next formation display, one of the aircraft (Red 8) had suffered a possible bird strike.
It was sad they cut the display short, but it was necessary and the length of time assessing the stability of the aircraft meant they could not carry on with the display schedule.
But one of the biggest highlights was to see a Harrier fly in the UK, albeit a Spanish aircraft. The sight and sounds of a Harrier are amazing, and in beautiful weather, I got photos I wanted for a long time.
Its display isn’t the same as the former RAF display that they used to do, but just to see it fly and also hover for a considerable amount of time was a sight to behold and a timely reminder of what was to be replaced with the F-35 that should have been here as well as to be flown during the display.
However one aircraft I hold in deep regard is the Avro Vulcan. This massive bomber is the only Vulcan flying in the world and it is sad to hear that this aircraft may not fly next year, so this year’s Farnborough airshow is perhaps the very last time we would see this beast fly.
BREAKING NEWS Reports says that a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 souls onboard has crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border MH17
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 17, 2014
After the display flying on the Thursday, my phone didn’t stop ringing over the news that while the airshow was displaying the aircraft, news of an airline exploding over Ukraine at first did not seem real, but when passing the Flight Global news stand, it became clear that it was true and the shocking thing was hearing how it came down.
Malaysia flight MH17 was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and had disappeared off radar screens over Ukraine just before the Russian border. This led to immediate speculation that some sort of explosion happened.
As it turned out increasing evidence (at the time of going to press) that it was a missile strike from a missile system believed to have been fired by separatists in Ukraine. This led to an international incident unprecedented in scale and scope.
Farnborough Airshow 2014 had already courted controversy in which the British government refused certain Russian people from going to Farnborough but this only added to the sense of unease within the Russian stands about the whole incident.
The incident also raised the question for Malaysia Airlines, even before the press printed their thoughts about the airline, I was openly questioning the ability for the airline to survive and given that this is now the second incident in as many months it for me drew parallels to Pan Am and TWA’s demise.
But the biggest point is not the material loss of an aircraft, its the actual loss of people involved, especially when considering that there were a number of children and that the reason for the aircraft loss was due to the fact they were flying over a conflict zone.
The following day from the international incident reverberated even further with Boeing completely cancelling all flying for the display as a mark of respect and with that the flying display felt even more quieter because of it.
The one word for me that describes Farnborough is ‘quiet’, but it really did feel quiet, with the lack of the American air forces due to budget constraints, the diplomatic spat of the Russians not allowed in and no mighty roar of the F-35 certainly meant that the airshow during the trade days feel more subdued than before.
Tension is a word I’d used in the beginning, and its just the beginning, namely with the tension between Russia and Ukraine and also with the tension building up to whether it would come or not (much like me deciding if I wanted to three trade days or two trade days).
Sorrow is also another word I would add to this because of the tragic international aviation incident over Ukraine and incidentally causing the Russians not to come because of Ukraine.
The display flying did feel it struggled to put on a show, but it did pick up substantially during the latter days of the week. Neither the less it was interesting to see an airshow that felt more relaxed than before. Amongst the trade stands, it sometimes felt more of a relief not to shout at your client when a jet fighter does some high energy manoeuvre.
The only real gripe was the weather and the flight line security. The weather is perfectly understandable and its probably without any reason why Farnborough can be so successful with beautiful weather most of the time but the security on the flight line is the other gripe that I reserve with great frustration.
— Joseph Cheung (@josephaviation) July 18, 2014
Three times over three days, security (doing their job perfectly) made my job photographing the air display harder when the main focus is watching the aircraft take off and land. At times its just a the security personnel standing getting in the way, other times included vehicles constantly charging up and down and at worse parking their vehicles in one spot. On one occasion I suffered great anger when they just parked a gold buggy in front which meant I had a constrained angle of view to photograph the runway.
It is understandable and absolutely right security must be present and at times be reassuring they are there, but they should not be the absolute focus and be a nuisance to what they must do. I would have been happier if they had sat down on a chair than for them to stand all the time as well as parking a buggy for security to seek extra shade.
With the atmosphere of the airshow set before it started, it was obvious I was going to struggle to fill three days adequately, but having said that I’ve done more than I could have wished for. Planning as much as I could I did manage to do what I wanted to do; talk to people on stands and give out my personal business cards to interested parties.
On the photography side, aside from the security issues, I was disappointed that most of the shots I had taken used the wrong settings to capture the image but I did get some fantastic panning shots of the aircraft on take off and landing which is personally difficult for me to achieve sharp focus on the aircraft with a highly dynamic background.
Its a shame I did not manage to meet other aircraft enthusiasts during the three days; being pre-occupied with career related activities as well as juggling with photographing both the statics and flying aircraft, I was fortunate that I did get to meet one of the @aviationxtended presenters for an interview along with Paul Varcoe for an enthusiasts view of Farnborough.
Overall I still had an enjoyable three days and for that I’m not disappointed but it would have been even better with better planning, more time to prepare and also making extra plans for things that can change.
If there was one thing that has come out of going to Farnborough is that the use of Twitter had exploded and more so when it came to correspondence between myself, the airshow organisers, aircraft manufacturers, aircraft enthusiasts and even media people. The effect is something very positive. Getting to know more about what is going on as well as having interesting conversations.
I intend to continue using social networks more and make the most of how social networks can help on the career front. After all, recently I was contacted by someone detailing a job description that I should look at and so I did and eventually sent off my job application.
21st May 2014 • Posted in Volunteering
IWM Volunteers were treated to a trip to the RAF Battle of Britain Bunker and the RAF Museum London on St Georges Day; the two museum locations as well as the theme couldn’t have been more apt.
Its a bright and warm morning at RAF Uxbridge as myself and other volunteers wait to enter the historical location from where Winston Churchill says the immortal words:
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few
Words aimed at the RAF and towards the Battle of Britain.
Being St. Georges Day, I think it was apt that an event was organised at this place in particular as well as seeing the command structure of the war, we would later go to the RAF Museum to look at the very Battle of Britain types of aircraft that flew.
RAF Uxbrige had been a fully active RAF Station until the 31 March 2010 and during that time the most notable role was its direct involvement in the Battle of Britain, directing No.11 Group Fighter Command which covered the south of England.
Getting down to the bunker was a matter of negotiating 60ft of stairs and a few corridors until we were led by our volunteer guide into the bunkers heart, the plotting room. It was there we were seated and our guide began a comprehensive, detailed and informative lecture of the bunker operations.
Our guide started with an introduction to the bunker itself, explaining the interesting facts such as: the bunker was built in approximately six months, it had about a metre of concrete covering the bunker with at least 30ft of earth above the bunker itself, but for me the most interesting fact is hearing that the ventilation system that we could hear distinctly in the bunker is some over 70 years old.
We were later told about the significance of the bunker itself. We heard that during operations when an air conflict was happening, staff did not leave their posts not just out of duty but because of necessity. This was so because if staff were supposed to be rotated and it so happened an air battle was going on, you couldn’t just swap a member of staff from the plotting room because there wasn’t enough time to update what was happening.
Our guide was wonderful and informative; in fact I found it very entertaining, sitting in the very plotting room that sealed the fate of the Luftwaffe and ultimately Operation Sealion; an operation that would have meant the invasion of Britain.
What interested me was how our guide conducted the tour’s lecture. Flowing from one interesting topic to another it was refreshing to feel how it was like to be in a bunker during the Battle of Britain whilst at the same time explaining the significance of certain aspects like the clock is set to the Battle of Britain, the plotting table shows certain special events during the battle and how the tote board was operated, including what happened afterwards.
A hidden highlight was actually to enter the room which oversaw the plotting room; most of the volunteers (including myself) were impressed when looking through the curved glass, trying to imagine how such a large piece of glass was made and put in place!
But behind us was actually a small collection of memorabilia ranging from engine parts, RAF and NAZI trinkets as well as pictures and uniforms of different armed forces related to the Second World War.
RAF Museum London
After having taking some time to travel from RAF Uxbridge to the RAF Museum London, it was a short lunch and then a short tour with the interactive volunteers of the museum. From here we were guided on a tour of the many aviation exhibits and displays related to the Battle of Britain.
We were actually split into various groups and with that we headed off in different locations, but overall the interactive volunteers gave us a unique insight into what each exhibit represents like a recovered engine from Ray Holmes’ crashed Hurricane engine which was recovered near Buckingham Palace; this was significant as the pilot spotted an enemy bomber and had just run out of ammunition and with that he decided to crash the aircraft out of the sky.
One of the interesting facts shown to us was the B-17 bomber, significant not in the Battle of Britain but in general about its role in helping to end World War II. In particular our guide showed us the ball turret, opening up to show how small it is and explaining that if he needed to escape whilst in the air, he would need to turn the turret so that the back door was in the fuselage, grab his parachute and then escape. The other was the horrifying thought of if the pilot had no landing gear in which the ball turret could and would possibly hit the ground.
The museum itself is split up into different sections representing different aspects of aviation warfare, but we eventually finished our tour at the Battle of Britain hangar, looking at the differences and significances of the Allied and Axis aircraft which took part around the Battle of Britain which led to the conclusion of a very interesting day out.
- Farnborough Airshow 2014 23 July 2014
- IWM Volunteers Trip To RAF Battle of Britain Bunker & RAF Museum London 21 May 2014
- Branding And Logos 26 April 2014
- Website Updates 3 January 2014
- 2013 Review 31 December 2013
- IWM Volunteer Long Service Award 21 December 2013
- Menu Madness 17 November 2013
- The Computer Project: Headaches And Heartaches 18 September 2013
- The Kerbal Space Program (Project Dogstar) UPDATE 18 September 2013
- The Kerbal Space Program (Project Dogstar) 7 August 2013