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Next section meeting - Thursday 26 October at The Bull Hotel, Bull Lane, Wrotham, Kent, TN15 7RF.

Tangmere Military Aviation Museum - Wednesday 9th April 2014

Wednesday 9th April gave section members the first good opportunity of the year to get the cars out dust them off and enjoy some really good motoring weather. A fine collection of Some 18 or so cars both old and new assembled at Pease Pottage services on the M23. Destination Tangmere Military Aviation museum near Chichester, West Sussex. As usual the Spiders went topless (showing off as usual) as the weather was fabulous. Considering this was a weekday it was an excellent turnout as well and would prove to be a interesting day for all concerned.

Tangmere

For those of you who have not heard of Tangmere a brief history lesson so please pay attention chaps as I shall write this only once! The museum is located on an old WW2 airfield which was operational from 1916 through to the post war years and is in the same vicinity as Goodwood. In 1982 a group of enthusiasts wanted to preserve the aviation heritage and the museum was founded. Today there is a varied collection of static Aircraft everything from the 2nd prototype Spitfire ever built to a Hurricane, Harriers (x2), Lightening and Hunter record breaking fighter jets. There is also a whole host of period memorabilia, simulators and other items to see. In fact far too much to describe here, the whole place being staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. It was this that was destined to keep us interested for the best part of the day.

So come 10am on Group Capt Doug's command we 'scrambled from Pease Pottage, fired up the cars, donned the flying helmets, lit our pipes and after a couple of quick puffs it was chocs away! We had a plan to drive in formation from PP to Tangmere with people who knew the way in front, in the middle and at the rear of the formation and a fine sight it was as all cars taxied out of the car park and opened their throttles (not quite as exciting as a 24,000cc V12 Tangmere Merlin but close) and joined the main road. It was at that point the plan come sortie went slightly wrong (well it usually does) as our formation got quickly dispersed by the hum drum of Wednesday morning traffic as we headed down M23 in a south Westerly direction. However the AROCKES crew being a resourceful lot bought out the maps, Sextants and compasses. Some members enlisted a little help from Tom and Tom and splitting into smaller groups set course for Tangmere. Yours truly had one of those 'do I follow the car in front or not moments' as Jack who was piloting the Duetto scampered off into the sun staying low on the A23, a quick decision was made and I went into a steep Port turn, peeled off and took the A272 quickly catching up with Dave, Jeff and others who had had the same idea. We then settled into the cruise at an altitude of 12- 18" not needing oxygen.

On arrival at Tangmere we landed (well drove in) and were marshalled to a parking area by one of those arm twirling people in a high vis jacket, Tangmere strangely he did not have a couple of table tennis bats? Most of us had arrived safely as I 'counted them all in' As mentioned the museum turned out to be extremely interesting, we were given a guided tour by Iain Mackinnon, a very enthusiastic and humorous gentlemen who had worked on Hunter Jets when he was in the services, so lots of stories there. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and gave us a feel of what the place was all about and really drove home the bravery of the crews that flew these war machines. The story of Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock's pass in a Hunter under Tower Bridge in 1968 to mark the 50th anniversary of the RAF and disbanding of his No1 Squadron was particularly memorable. Apparently that got a few people to the windows of the Houses of Parliament and got him a slapped wrist.

After the tour, lunch could be had in the mess, a calming sit in the Sunshine and then a final look around the artefacts and documents etc before most members headed off East setting course back to Kent and home base.

To close here a big thanks from me (and I am sure from all our members) to Jeff and the committee for arranging this day out in our Alfas. Good company, great weather, Alfa Romeo cars and Aeroplanes all being the typical ingredients of a good AROCKES event. Let's face it we are all boys at heart and I'm sure will always being interested in anything with loud engines, wheels and whirring mechanical bits!

Mark Webster

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