55th Anniversary of First Flight

As explained elsewhere we had learnt that Treble Three first flew at Samlesbury on 30th January, 1956. So on that day in 2011 it would be her 55th Anniversary of that occasion; what could we do to mark this event?

The date fell on a Sunday which meant most of the Team and helpers could attend. Would we be able to run the aircraft? And, if so, would it be a static run or might we be able to take her on the runway? We had about seven weeks to get things organised and the whole country was covered in a thick carpet of snow.

There was also the small matter of the HP Cock on the port engine requiring the strength of Job to get it to open a fraction so clearly the mechanical situation was not good. So, whatever we did would have to be low key and not involve a great deal of planning because of all these “ifs” and “buts”.

What we could do, however, was organise some commemorative merchandise and Andy Hay has produced an excellent A3 print depicting Treble Three in five of her guises over the years.

See  http://www.flyingart.co.uk/SHOP/contents/en-uk/d6.html

Andy also produced an eye catching design for us to use for the anniversary

This adorns a number of our special items produced for the occasion.

As you will have read in our 2011 page we did not know if we would be able to run both engines due to a problem with the HP Cock on the port engine. Fortunately, we were able to enlist the help of Chris Cawdron, otherwise known as Mr Avon, who very kindly paid us a visit on a dry but very cold 21st January at Bruntingthorpe and fixed the problem. We ran the engine as you will have seen afterwards and so we were hopeful of at least doing a static engine run on 30th January.

Came the day and it was dry, the sun shone occasionally and, whilst cold, it was not freezing as it had been a few days before. We had invited a few people to come and help us celebrate and a number of cars arrived and parked up on the dispersal. In front of Treble Three was parked Teasin’ Tina (the Victor) and a very large portacabin being prepared for installation nearby. It looked like we would be doing a static run.

Enter Mr. Shifter! Shifter by name and shifter by nature is our Dave and before you could say “Sea Vixen”, we had clearance to take Treble Three out on the runway for a run, the large tug hooked up to the Victor and a means of moving the portacabin 20 yards to the left being explored. Meanwhile it was all hands “prepping” Treble Three with hatches opened and El Capitaine issuing directives hither and thither.

All hands to the pump!

Senõra El Capitaine was attempting to provide everyone with hot drinks with one truculent kettle and six square inches of workspace to house 18 coffee mugs and other vittles. Oh! And one teaspoon! One minute the Victor was on the dispersal and the next it was parked up on the taxiway. I never did find out if the crew working inside Tina were aware of what was happening outside. Whilst the tow bar was being hooked up to Treble Three the portacabin was seen to head 20 yards in a westerly direction, as if by magic. Like all good magicians Mr Shifter did not disclose the secret of how the move was done, but a large vehicle was seen later, parked up, with large chains attached to it. Dennis was now in the cockpit, ably assisted by young Alex, and Treble Three was towed out to the runway with a possé of wing walkers on station and a gaggle of followers bringing up the rear.

We couldn’t use the usual marshalling area at the end of the runway and so we pitched up on the main area and – after our usual ground support crew briefing – went through the litany of checks and procedures prior to start up. Our friends and followers were poised, on the grass, with their cameras for this first run of 2011. With all seemingly in order, at 1345 hrs, Dennis fired the port engine up and with the familiar trident of black smoke the airfield came alive with the sound of an Avon winding up.

A couple of minutes later and the starboard engine joined in the chorus.

Let us allow the photographs to tell the rest of the tale of the day…………………

Everything turning and burning El Capitaine secures the hatch

The Gloster Painter prepares to marshal Treble Three once El Presidenté and The Adjutant have cleared away the chocks.

The Gloster Painter calls Treble Three forward

Dennis turns Treble Three onto the runway

“Brakes ON!” Dennis watching The Gloster Painter’s instructions

Treble Three completing her initial figure of eight taxy

Airbrakes out and flaps down – Treble Three completing her run

The Gloster Painter indicates to Dennis where he is to park Treble Three. Again note the airbrakes and flaps extended as she begins to brake at the end of the run – just as she would have done for the first time fifty five years ago today.

Dennis in the office after the run

We happy few – thanks everyone for making today possible – not forgetting Damien and Tim behind their respective cameras.

With her engines cooling off Treble Three is carefully propelled back to her dispersal under the scrutiny of El Capitaine and Westy. Mr Shifter is demonstrating his skills in his tug. The kettle is on!

Treble Three’s birthday cake – thanks Trish!

So we managed it and we hope that everyone who turned up enjoyed the day and the cake. Here’s to the next 55 years.

Thanks to Dave Walton for allowing us to strut our stuff on the day, to Dennis for so willingly giving his time to make her move and turn so tantalisingly, to Damien, Matt and Tim for the superb photographs and to the Treble Three fan club members for their support and encouragement. None of it would happen without the devotion of our little band of superannuated schoolboys

Thanks guys!

If anything can…..a Canberra can!