At last, the sun shone from a cloudless blue sky for our main annual main event of 2012 – ‘Tangmere’s Tribute to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands Campaign’ and celebration of our own 30th birthday.
The first of over 600 visitors started arriving as soon as the gates opened and were able to participate in a wide range of activities including open cockpits, stalls, Air Training Corps drill displays, re-enactors and classic cars – the attractions that involved dropping bombs from a model Lancaster and shooting down enemy fighters were both very popular.
A series of talks given by Falklands veterans in the Neville Duke Hall was extremely well attended. Veterans present included Wing Commander Fred Trowern, RAF Liaison Officer to the Commander Land Forces, Major General Jeremy Moore, Commander Robin Kent RN (Sea Harrier pilot) who also signed prints depicting his aircraft, Wing Commander Tony Harper (No.1 Squadron Harrier pilot), Commander Mike Leaning RN (embarked on HMS Plymouth) and Captain Laurie Ramage (Hercules pilot). A further contributor was Wing Commander Martin Blunkell, a member of the team that established the Falklands base after the conflict.
At just before 2.15pm, visitors started gathering along the edge of the old airfield and, right on schedule, low from the north came that sound and sight which brings a lump to one’s throat – the roar of a Merlin and the sleek profile of a lone Spitfire streaking in. Flown by Squadron Leader Ian Smith of the BBMF, Serial AB910 (built at Castle Bromwich in 1941) treated us to a magnificent series of ‘fly-bys’ before disappearing into the perfect ‘Battle of Britain’ blue sky. The crowd were then treated to a spirited aerobatic display complete with ‘smoke’ by a North American Harvard owned by the Boultbee Flight Academy based at Goodwood.
The final ‘event’ of the day was the 2012 Grand Draw, with winning tickets drawn by Mrs Gwen Duke, widow of the celebrated Squadron Leader Neville Duke, past Honorary President of the Museum. A wonderful day enjoyed by all who attended!