Military & Flying Machines 2016

For the second year running Thames Amateur Radio Group was invited to support Essex Military Vehicle Association’s annual “Military & Flying Machines” showcase event, at Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Aveley. This registered charity specialises in the preservation and restoration of all military vehicles, artillery and artefacts from many nations and periods.

The TARG Team, consisting of Andy G1GKN, Ann M6INE, Tom 2E0TNC, Terri M6FZW and Norman M0FZW, had arrived by early Friday afternoon to fix up their camping arrangements before setting up the 6 x 3 metre marquee, complete with camouflage netting, in keeping with the show, on the exhibition field.

Saturday was an early start to ensure that the display of TARG merchandise, Clansman transceivers, vintage radios, Kenwood TS-480, ADS-B aircraft tracking display, antennas and power supplies were completed for 10am. After 5pm this equipment would be packed away in vehicles overnight and the assembly process repeated again Sunday morning.

Gary, 2E0KGT, and John, 2E0LFX arrived first thing Sat for the day and took turns to operate the TS-480 and complete the log book using Special Event callsign, GB2MFM. On Sunday John, 2E0LFX and Nigel, 2E0NBG operated the station. On both days 20M band was swamped with impulsive interference, thought to be OTHR, so 40M became the chosen band.

The team managed 76, often lengthy, QSOs. The longest being between Walter, DK5DR, and Norman, M0FZW, who, for 25 minutes, reminisced about Pub Rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s. The Dr Feelgood band was of particular note.

The exhibitor’s party on Saturday night, in the beer tent, was a real hoot. Two hundred people dressed in either their military or civilian period clothing dancing to a live band playing music from the 40’s to the 70’s. The beer flowed. By 23.00hrs the relatively sedate jive and swing dancers gave way to wild free dancers in army boots.

By mid afternoon on Sunday the NW wind began gusting so strongly that we had to take down the marquee. While the Team battled to pack up our wind blown shelter John continued operating GB2MFM at the limits of our pitch beside the table full of Clansman radios. This attracted a lot of interest as people drifted past from the display arena.

Note to selves: Make equipment display as accessible as possible in future.

Unfortunately the new C.A.A. safety requirements, brought about by the tragic events at last year’s Shoreham Air Show limited the flying display to just a few passes of a Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter, as used in Vietnam and seen in M.A.S.H., a Dakota and a Spitfire with D day markings.

This event is the most demanding and exhausting event TARG is involved with by far. At 7pm Sunday, when we have packed away, each of us are at a virtual standstill. A quick meal and few beers later and we are sound asleep in our camp beds. We’ll travel home Monday morning.

Will we do again next year? Absolutely YES!

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