Glasgow Airport Movements 2021
CAA figures for July 2021 show that 200,334 passengers passed through the terminal at Glasgow International during the month. This compares with 269,306 at Edinburgh Airport and 7,126 at Prestwick, although scheduled passenger flights at the latter are customarily limited to a handful of destinations served by Ryanair. It`s good to see the amount of airliners leaving from and calling in at Glasgow on the increase although many people are playing it safe this year and staycationing due to fluctuating COVID requirements for travellers, both here in the UK and abroad.
The UK`s vaccination program continues with increasing numbers of people now full vaccinated against Coronavirus, enabling many businesses to restart or return to pre-pandemic staffing levels. By the end of August, however, Scotland was experiencing a day-upon-day record number of infections with totals well in excess of 7,000 in some 24 hour periods.
The latest worrying surge came as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf warned that the NHS was facing a perfect storm of pressure. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was forced to self isolate due to being in close contact with an infected person, confirmed that the Scottish Government has no intention of reimposing lockdown measures at this stage.
The unprecedented pressure on the NHS, however, led the Scottish government to request military assistance from the MOD as ambulance crews were struggling to cope with the volume of calls. In addition to soldiers drafted in to drive ambulances, logistical staff were also made available to support the hard pressed paramedics and technicians.
With regard to local aviation, Emirates restarted their Dubai-Glasgow service on Wednesday 11 August after a long absence, with Boeing 777-36N(ER) A6-EBQ (above) doing the honours.
This welcome return was overshadowed by the news that Virgin Atlantic is abandoning Glasgow International altogether in favour of Edinburgh Airport, terminating an almost 15 year-old relationship. Although the retirement of Virgin`s 747s marked the end of an era, things remained positive here, even at the start of the pandemic with several of the carrier`s Airbus wide bodies including the latest A350 XWB having been temporarily based at Glasgow for familiarisation training prior to the expected resumption of the popular West of Scotland - Florida connection - obviously things didn't go according to plan.
COVID-19 meant an early retirement for Virgin`s iconic Jumbos, which had been an integral part of the carrier`s worldwide operations for 36 years.
The 747-400 series became a familiar sight here year-round and always turned heads on arrival or takeoff with millions of Glasgow holidaymakers choosing these planes as their favoured route from Scotland to the Sunshine State. Even many travellers from northern England opted for a Glasgow departure instead of busy Manchester or one of the main London airports.
When you take in the Thomas Cook and Flybe collapses, then the exodus of Virgin Atlantic and other major players to Edinburgh, the prospect of Glasgow Airport`s recovery, even to pre-pandemic levels, looks bleak. Scenes like the one below will likely be a thing of the past, although passenger numbers should receive a welcome temporary boost before the year`s end thanks to the COP26 conference.
On a more positive note, the cruise industry began to make up for lost time, resulting in a fair number of cruise ships calling in at Greenock in recent weeks. Also, the three Azamara Line vessels laid up at Glasgow`s KGV Dock since last summer all headed out to sea, two positioning to Cadiz. First away was Azamara Quest which I photographed from the Erskine Bridge on what was a bright but hazy afternoon. The others, Azamara Journey and Azamara Pursuit, left Glasgow soon after.
It was no surprise that the cruise ships` departure didn`t attract quite as much attention as when they arrived.
Olympic Games 2020
Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, the current high infection rate in Japan, and the associated challenges, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (23 Jul 2021 – 8 Aug 2021) were deemed an overwhelming success. This was especially the case with Team GB which finished with a commendable haul of 65 medals, the same number achieved at London 2012, making the Tokyo games Great Britain`s third most successful ever. (The record for the Brits was achieved in Rio 2016 where the team won 67 medals, followed by London where 29 of the medals were gold compared to 22 in Tokyo). The individuals achieving Olympic glory for Team GB in Japan are too numerous to list here, but I`ll mention just a few of the highlights.
Team GB won their medals across more different sports than any other nation taking part, picking up silverware in an impressive 25 different disciplines. But apart from the gongs, there was a great deal to look forward to, with many young athletes showing great potential for a podium position at the next meeting which will be in Paris in 2024. As COVID forced a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics by 12 months, competitors will now have just 3 years to prepare, an added incentive for many.
Despite not enjoying as much gold in the Izu velodrome compared to previous Olympics, cycling has still proved to be Team GB's most prosperous area. Aided by the emergence of mountain biking star Tom Pidcock and BMX medallists Beth Schriever and Kye Whyte, the riders brought home 12 medals in all after Jason Kenny's record breaking win (above right) in the Keirin, and they still reached the top of the track cycling medal table. Laura Kenny, Jason`s wife, has now struck gold in three successive Games with her near perfect partnership with Katie Archibald in the Madison.
Despite not enjoying as much gold in the Izu velodrome compared to previous Olympics, cycling has still proved to be Team GB's most prosperous area. Aided by the emergence of mountain biking star Tom Pidcock and BMX medallists Beth Schriever and Kye Whyte, the riders brought home 12 medals in all after Jason Kenny's record breaking win (above right) in the Keirin, and they still reached the top of the track cycling medal table. Laura Kenny, Jason`s wife, has now struck gold in three successive Games with her near perfect partnership with Katie Archibald in the Madison.
Britain's emergence as a powerhouse in the swimming pool behind the all-conquering brilliance of Adam Peaty and the diving heroics of Tom Daley & Co made aquatic sports the UK`s joint-second most successful pursuit. Eleven medals came from here with the team finishing in an unprecedented third place in the pool medal table. Level with the aquatic success is that of the athletics and multi-discipline competitors who also won 11 medals. Further gains were achieved with a gold and two silvers in the triathlon combined, then modern pentathlon gold in both the men's (Joseph Choong) and women's (Kate French) events which made up for some losses forced by injury.
British-Japanese skateboarder Sky Brown (left), at just 13 years-old, is the youngest professional skateboarder in the world. She won a bronze medal in the park event, also making her the UK`s youngest ever Olympic medallist.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (24 August to 5 September 2021) followed and yet again the Team GB athletes did their country proud. Dame Sarah Storey (right) went on to make history by beating her own world record to become Great Britain's most successful Paralympian ever after powering back to claim the 17th gold of her glittering career. Cycling star Storey trailed veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf by 75 seconds at one stage of the C4-5 road race at the rain-soaked Fuji International Speedway but underlined her class to snatch glory in a finishing time of 2:21:51. Other cyclists won medals over a range of disciplines and once again, the action in the swimming pool achieved some impressive results. By the end of proceedings Team GB stood second overall with a total of 124 medals made up of 41 golds, 38 silver and 45 bronze.
This month, as the pre-arranged exit of US-led forces from Afghanistan loomed ever closer, the world looked on incredulous as the Taliban rapidly gained control of the country. Rather than mount a robust defence the vast majority of the US-backed Afghan Army fled in panic, as did the Afghan president. Despite US President Joe Biden`s confident and reassuring pledge Just four months ago: "We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We'll do it responsibly, deliberately and safely. And we will do it in full co-ordination with our allies and partners.", it was a shambolic withdrawal on every level.
The 9/11 attacks in 2001 were an unprecedented propaganda coup not only for Al-Qaeda who carried out the operation, but all anti-Western terrorist groups and their sympathisers. They were elated by the audacity of the plan, the fact that it had struck at the heart of the United States of America and its military, and the scale of death and destruction. In late 2001, the United States, supported by its close allies, invaded Afghanistan with the aim of destroying and disrupting Al-Qaeda, while denying the terrorists a safe base of operations by removing the Taliban government from power. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks, following two decades of bloody fighting during which somewhere between 171,000 to 174,000 people on all sides have lost their lives, the Taliban, are back in control and the anti-Western terrorists groups worldwide are celebrating once again. (Following images © Business Insider).
Not only have the Taliban been allowed to take over almost the whole of Afghanistan with very little bloodshed, but they have also been handed trillions of dollars worth of US military vehicles, helicopters, aircraft, and other specialist equipment, leaving them more powerful than at any time in their history. Databases, built up by the Coalition Forces over the past 20 years, containing highly sensitive personal information, not only on potential terrorists, but people allied to the West`s operations, will be a goldmine for the new rulers as they hunt down and seek revenge on their enemies.
Prior to the US withdrawal, the war against the Taliban had dwindled to a security operation. Afghan soldiers, police and civilians were still suffering, but many fewer Coalition soldiers were being killed: 11 last year. There were far more US troops stationed in Britain than in Afghanistan. A smallish Western force of around 2,500 kept the Taliban down and the country stable. Some countries, having witnessed the USA`s `abandonment` are particularly worried, including Taiwan, which is almost daily subject to threats of invasion from China. Many in South Korea, Japan, and countries in Western Europe, including Britain are wondering if America`s commitment to them could evaporate as quickly as its support for Afghanistan has.
After prolonged negotiations in Qatar last year, the United States signed a deal with the Taliban that set the stage to end America’s longest war. As the self-imposed deadline for pulling out all Western troops drew ever closer, this gave Taliban fighters added impetus and, one by one, previously contested or government held areas thought to be secure, fell. The sudden Taliban surge led to the capture of the country`s capital Kabul within days, taking everyone it seemed by surprise, including even the Taliban, many of whom were by that time posing in captured American uniforms and brandishing the latest US Army assault rifles.
Hamid Karzai International Airport became the main focus of the desperate attempts of Afghans to flee, however, thousands upon thousands opted to try and cross the border into neighbouring Pakistan. As the escape window for anti-Taliban Afghans, especially those who had actively supported the west, or had been outspoken against them, quickly began to close, there was widespread panic in the capital and chaos ensued.
Afghanistan images © BBC News / Getty / AP/ ABC News/ Harvard Gazette / AP Photo / Daily Mail/ Reuters/ The Telegraph / The Guardian / Metro/ US Central Command Public Affairs / Defence One etc*
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated so rapidly that US President Biden was forced to fly several thousand troops back in to secure a perimeter around the airport and help process the evacuation. Bagram Airfield (below), approximately 40 km (25 mi) north of Kabul International Airport, was the Allies main base of operations in the capital but it fell to the Taliban on 15 August 2021, after Afghan Armed Forces guarding it surrendered. (Bagram photos ABC / Independent).
The volatile situation at the international airport meant that civil aviation slowed to a trickle. Up until 18 August when Air traffic control for commercial aircraft overflying the country ceased, Afghanistan airspace was a heavily travelled corridor for international overflights transiting from North America and Europe to destinations in India and southeast Asia. The authorities issued a NOTAM warning aircraft that as of the 18th aircraft entering and flying within the uncontrolled Kabul Flight Information Region (FIR) (Afghanistan airspace) would be doing so at their own risk. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have operated a few flights to/ from Kabul Airport since, but by far the vast majority of traffic is made up of military transports. There are no longer refuelling facilities at Kabul Airport and pilots are given a strict window to load up, preferably with engines running at all times.
To assist in the evacuation efforts, the United States' Department of Defence mobilised its Civil Reserve Air Fleet to assist with flying US citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other vulnerable individuals out of Afghanistan. The Civil Reserve Air Fleet was created in 1952 in the wake of the post-World War II Berlin Airlift. Initially, 18 commercial flights three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines, were used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases, rather than land at Hamid Karzai.
Left: An Ariana Afghan Airlines plane takes off from the airport on 14 August 2021. (Image © News24).
As the mass evacuation continued, intelligence sources warned that an attack was imminent. The nature of the threat was unspecified but troops on the ground were told to be extra vigilant. There was a strong suspicion that the Taliban, if not the source of an attack themselves, would perhaps assist those responsible by allowing them through the various security cordons to reach their intended target(s).
(Above image © MAXAR Technologies / AFP)
On Thursday August 26, a suicide bomber wearing a belt packed with explosives made his way into the crowd gathering by a canal outside the airport where US forces were checking evacuees' passports, visas and other documentation before allowing them through the perimeter onto the airfield itself. As a result of the detonation, which occurred at 17:50 local time, at least 182 people were killed, including 169 Afghan civilians and 13 members of the United States military, the first American military casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020. Hundreds more were injured. Two British adults and the child of a British national were among those who lost their lives during the incident and a further two British nationals were injured.
US officials said that ISIL-KP gunmen had opened fire into the mass of people seconds after the explosion and that US troops returned fire but, according to several reporters, eyewitnesses attributed at least some of the civilian casualties to the Americans. Accounts erroneously stated that people had witnessed a second explosion at the nearby Baron Hotel but this was subsequently found to be incorrect, the assumption having been made during the initial confusion. The following photo showing the spot where the bomb went off was taken on the morning after the detonation.
(Photo © AFP/Sky News).
On 27 August, the United States launched an airstrike in Nangarhar Province against what the Pentagon said was a vehicle carrying three ISIL-KP members. Two, described by a government spokesman as high-profile ISIS targets who were also planners and facilitators, were killed outright and a third occupant was injured. One of the strike targets was said to be `associated with potential future attacks at the airport.`
(Above image © Planet Labs Inc. via AP. Following drone strike photos © CNN)
This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs Inc. shows Kabul International on Saturday, 28 August 2021. By this time Taliban forces had effectively sealed off the airport to the vast majority of Afghans hoping for evacuation as the Coalition forces began to wind-up the airlift. Meanwhile, US Intelligence suggested that yet more attacks were likely. Sure enough, up to five rockets were fired at the airport, but all were successfully engaged and destroyed by an automated defence system. No casualties were reported.
On 29 August, another aerial strike was carried out by the United States. A drone targeted a vehicle which a US spokesperson said was carrying at least one suspected ISIL-KP member who was believed to be trying to reach Kabul Airport to make an attack. US officials initially said a number of substantial and powerful secondary explosions indicated that there had been explosives on board.
Soon after, however, it became apparent that 10 innocent civilians had been killed, including seven children. Even more appalling was that some of those who lost their lives had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them entry into the USA.
Relatives of the victims refuted that any subsequent explosions had occurred and the allegation that the driver of the car had any connection with the terrorist group. This did indeed prove to be correct.
The US military subsequently apologised for the deadly strike which they described as a `tragic mistake` after their own investigation confirmed that it was indeed an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, that had been killed. The youngest child was just two years old. One of the victims, Ahmad Naser, had been a translator with US forces and it was realised that the supposed secondary blast might have been due to a propane or gas tank igniting rather than explosives. Relatives told the BBC the day after the attack that the Nasers had applied to be evacuated, and had been waiting for a phone call telling them to go to the airport. The fact that this horrendous but entirely avoidable tragedy should take place just as the Americans ended their 20-year occupation will cast an even darker stain on the chaotic US exit. The US military's miscalculation has also drawn questions as to the accuracy of future counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, especially with a US presence no longer on the ground.
The RAF revealed it had crammed more than 400 Afghans onto their Globemaster transports - more than three times the type's normal capacity - during its evacuation flights from Kabul. One British C-17 had 436 people aboard, which a spokesperson for 99 Squadron said was the biggest capacity flight in RAF history, although the US Air Force managed to get 823 people aboard one of their Globemasters during the same operation. The crew decided to take the refugees after they forced their way aboard the Qatar-bound jet during the early, chaotic stages of the evacuation, rather than waste time and effort in a likely futile attempt to evict some of them.
(All RAF C-17 photos © MOD)
Above & below Left: These incredible pictures show the record breaking Royal Air Force C-17 flight leaving Kabul with 436 relieved men, women and children crammed into the hold. The other vertical shot shows the interior of the USAF C-17 with 823 Afghans on board. The refugees ran up the half-open ramp while the jet was preparing for take-off. (Images © BBC News / MOD / USAF).
More than 15,000 people have been brought to safety by the British airlift alone, however, there are claims that at least 5,000 people with a right to settle in the UK may be still in Afghanistan, including hundreds of interpreters who aided British troops over the past two decades, but some fear the true number is much higher. One interpreter who aided British troops for years said he was turned away from the airport after waiting for four days and said: 'I just feel that they don't care about us.' This is a view echoed by vast numbers of Afghans, especially in Kabul, where day-to-day life was relatively safe and relaxed, in sharp contrast to the strict regime imposed by the country`s new rulers.
The last British military personnel left Afghanistan on Saturday 28 August, along with the British ambassador to the country, Sir Laurie Bristow. This was just a couple of days before their American counterparts wrapped things up, ensuring they were out well before the deadline. The UK said the Taliban had agreed to continue to let people out of the country, although ministers admitted they were sceptical about whether the hard-line Islamist regime has any intention of honouring this claim. The only option now for many of those left behind is to try and make it out overland. The going rate at the time of writing was up to $25,000 for a seat on a bus to Pakistan but already the scenes at the border were almost as chaotic as those witnessed around Kabul airport.
Above: 30 August 2021: Some of the last US soldiers to leave Afghanistan board a US Air Force transport at Kabul Airport. (Photo Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images).
The photo above shows commander of the U.S. Army`s 82nd Airborne Division, Major General Christopher T. Donahue, the final American soldier to depart Afghanistan, about to board his taxi home on 30 August. As soon as the last American transport rose into the air, celebrations by the new rulers and their supporters began, not only in Kabul but countrywide. Fireworks and automatic gunfire lit up the night sky in the capital and other major cities then, the following day, the Taliban hosted victory parades which gave them the chance to show off some of their recently acquired US vehicles and hardware - even a Black Hawk helicopter gunship took to the air.
Despite the impression of moderation that the Taliban leaders give to the world`s media, the real power outside Kabul and the other main cities will lie with groups of pro-Taliban warlords, as was the case from 1996 until 2001 when the Taliban were last in power. Already there have been numerous reports of local atrocities as they settle scores and implement their strict interpretation of Sharia law, particularly with regard to controlling Afghan women and girls.
(Above image © NPR. Slideshow images © BBC News / Getty / AP/ ABC News/ Harvard Gazette / AP Photo / Daily Mail/ Reuters/ The Telegraph / The Guardian / Metro)
The withdrawal of Western Forces will only create another power struggle, the main rivals to the Taliban being the Islamic State-Khorasan (Islamic State K) which carried out the suicide bombing at Kabul Airport. This group regards the Taliban as religious sell-outs. There is also the resistance movement of supporters of the old government. The fighters belonging to this latter faction based themselves in the Panjshir Valley, which has the reputation of being impregnable, 100 miles north-east of Kabul. Peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan is further away than ever.
Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RKD of Ryanair Sun about to disgorge passengers after arriving on stand on Sunday 15 August 2021.
On Sunday 1 August, Airbus A320-214 EI-DEI, one of two Aer Lingus A320s that were painted in a special `Green Spirit` Irish Rugby Team Livery, worked the Dublin - Glasgow service. These aircraft originally had portraits of the several prominent team members painted on their sides, as shown in these shots of EI-DEI which I took at Dublin Airport in April 2017, however, as they no longer reflect the current squad, they`ve since been painted over.
More shots taken at Dublin International Airport can be viewed here.
Please bear in mind that all my images are subject to copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark.
Other visiting airliners getting a mention this month as follows: All-white Titan Airways Airbus A321-211 G-POWN from Stanstead (departed with Rangers FC to Malmo), Embraer ERJ-190STD PH-EZX KLM Cityhopper (SkyTeam Livery), Embraer ERJ-190LR G-CLSN (f/v) Eastern Airways (from Southampton to Stansted, then from/to Stansted), plus Airbus A319-131 G-EUPS British Airways (arrived for storage/maintenance) (2nd); Boeing 737-484 9H-MPW Air Horizont (departed with Celtic FC to Prague), plus A320-214 EI-DEI (Irish Rugby livery) returned (3rd); Boeing 737-8AS EI-DCL Ryanair (Dreamliner Livery), Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSB Ryanair Sun, plus Titan A321-211 G-POWN returned with Rangers FC from Malmo (4th); Airbus A320-214 EI-DVM Aer Lingus (Retro Livery) (5th); Boeing 737-484 9H-MPW Air Horizont arrived in the early hours with Celtic FC from Prague (6th); A320-214 EI-DEI Aer Lingus (Irish rugby colours) returned and Airbus A320-214 G-EZPD easyJet (Europcar Livery) (9th)...
After a long absence, Emirates made a welcome return to Glasgow with Boeing 777-36N(ER) A6-EBQ flying in from Dubai on Wednesday 11 August.
Also on the 11th, BAe AVRO 146-RJ85 G-JOTR of Jota Aviation made a round trip from/to Biggin Hill and Smart Wings Boeing 737-8Q8(WL) OK-TVJ (f/v) (below) brought FC Jablonec from Prague to Glasgow for their 3rd round Europa League qualifier against Celtic. The Hoops won 3-0 on the night, going through 7-2 on aggregate. Noteworthy airliners visiting Glasgow continued with Embraer ERJ-190LR D-AECI (f/v) Lufthansa CityLine (14th); On 16 August, British Airways A320 G-EUUH departed after storage/maintenance and was replaced by G-EUYK which went into the BA hangar.
After depositing passengers at the terminal, the Smart Wings Boeing 737 relocated to Stand 37L on the West Apron for overnight parking.
On Tuesday 17 August, ERJ-190STD PH-EZX of KLM Cityhopper (SkyTeam colours) and Bombardier CRJ-900LR EI-FPD CityJet (all white colours) called in.
Also on the 17th, Fokker F100 YR-FZA of Carpatair (arrived from Amsterdam with AZ Alkmaar for their Europa League match against Celtic). This Romanian airline has its headquarters at Timisoara with a smaller base at Bucharest international Airport. The carrier operates an extensive domestic network as well as international flights to Germany, Italy, Greece, Moldova and Ukraine. Carpatair also specialises in ACMI `wet` leasing and charter services.
The Fokker 100 is based on the Fokker F28 Fellowship with a stretched fuselage. Over 280 were produced between 1986-1997.
Boeing 777-21H(LR) A6-EWJ flew in from Dubai on Tuesday 17 August.
On Wednesday 18 August, it was Triple-Seven-21 A6-EWG`s turn on the Dubai-Glasgow service.
About 13:00 hrs on the 18th, shortly after the Emirates heavy had arrived on stand and cut it engines, Georgian Airways Bombardier CRJ-200LR 4L-TGB (f/v) appeared on finals. The aircraft, which had flown from Yerevan, via the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, was bringing Armenian Premier League side FC Alashkert to the city for a Europa League match with Rangers.
Below: The latest of several Boeing 737-8 MAX airliners on delivery to Oman Air, like its predecessors, routed through Glasgow, which now seems to be a favoured fuel stop on the ferry flight for this carrier`s new jets transiting between Boeing Field, Seattle, and Muscat. This one, A4O-MK (f/v), landed here at 03:50 hrs on Thursday 19 August and parked on Stand 37 on the West Apron, conveniently in an uncluttered position for photographs. Also visiting Glasgow for the first time on the 19th were Aer Lingus Airbus A320-214 EI-DVK (f/v) and British Airways A320-251N G-TTNR. Next, CityJet Bombardier CRJ-900LR EI-FPD (all white colours) flew in on the 21st, followed by Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS(WL) EI-DCL in Dreamliner livery on the 24th...
Jet2 Boeing 737-8MG(WL) G-JZBS arrived to take Celtic FC to Amsterdam (25th); Embraer ERJ-190STD PH-EZX KLM Cityhopper (SkyTeam colours), BA Airbus A320-232 G-EUUM departed after storage/maintenance, and Ryanair Boeing 737 EI-DCL (Dreamliner colours) made another visit (26th); Jet2 Boeing 737 G-JZBS landed at 01:30 hrs bringing back Celtic FC from the Netherlands (27th); Airbus A320-214(WL) D-AIUD Lufthansa (29th); BA A320-232 G-EUUP arrived for storage/maintenance (30th); Rounding off noteworthy jet airliners movements for August were BA A319-131 G-EUPS which departed after storage/maintenance and Ryanair Boeing 737 EI-DCL (Dreamliner colours) on its third appearance this month (31st).
Lufthansa CityLine Embraer ERJ-190LR D-AECG and Aer Lingus A320-214 EI-DER were both snapped on the morning of Saturday 28 August.
A surprise visitor towards the end of the month was Airbus A321-251NX 4X-AGK (f/v) of Arkia Israeli Airlines which landed at 22:10 on Saturday 28 August and parked up on Stand 40 overnight. This wasn`t a football related charter and as yet I have no information on the reason for the jet`s appearance. Arkia is a privately-owned airline based at Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv, and operates both scheduled and charter passenger services to domestic destinations as well as international destinations in Europe, the CIS and Egypt. The aircraft remained until 17:35 hours on the 29th when it returned to Tel Aviv.
De Havilland Canada DHC-8-202Q Dash 8 N480AV (f/v) of Berry Aviation made a fuel stop on Saturday 7 August while transiting from Milan to Keflavik. The aircraft, which has previously borne the serials N484YV, N348PH, P4-TCO, and C-FOBU, at various stages during its career, was on the ground between 11:15 and 12:20 hours. Runway 05 was in operation at the time.
Berry Aviation is an American charter airline based at San Marcos Municipal Airport, Texas. It was established in 1983 and since commencing operations, Berry has served as a partner to the U.S. Government, Department of Defence, and all branches of the U.S. military. The company also offers passenger charter and cargo flights, as well as providing contract work for the US Postal Service and various foreign government agencies.
Since August 2017, Berry Aviation has conducted over fifty hurricane relief flights for Wings of Rescue and the Humane Society of the United States, carrying over 100 tons of emergency supplies into the Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria zones. This aircraft has flown over 4,500 pets, which otherwise would have died, to safety at no-kill animal shelters throughout mainland USA.
In October 2017, four U.S. Army personnel and five Nigerien soldiers were killed and two more injured after being ambushed while assisting local forces in Southwest Niger. It was later reported that private contractors working for Berry Aviation conducted casualty evacuation and transport for the American and partner forces. The operation was mounted from Niamey, Niger`s capital and largest city.
Below: ATR 72-600 SE-MKH (f/v) of Braathens Regional arrived from Malmo at 12:40 on Monday 9 August, bringing Swedish side Malmo FF from Billund. A couple of hours later two Glasgow-bound easyJet Airbuses, a Ryanair Boeing 737 and Loganair Embraer were forced to adopt a holding pattern over the Lanark area due to severe thunderstorms moving across the airport and surrounding area. A British Airways Embraer 190, G-LCYK, was forced to do likewise over Kilmarnock and the resultant delays were such that both easyJet planes had to divert to Edinburgh.
There are also hints of stormy times ahead for the Old Firm - for the first time in 10 years, Scotland began the season with two clubs in the Champions League but within two weeks, both had crashed out before the play-off stage. Rangers followed Celtic into the Europa League after an abject home defeat by visitors Malmo, blowing a 1-0 lead and one-man advantage on the night to fall to the Swedish champions at a packed Ibrox. Steven Gerrard`s men had already made a poor start to the Scottish Premiership going down 0-1 to Dundee United. At the other end of the city, their rivals Celtic exited the Champions League losing 2-3 on aggregate to Danish side Midtjylland. The Hoops went on to face Czech side FK Jablonec in an attempt to progress in the Europa League.
(Photos © sport.hrt.hr & BBC News)
The only other noteworthy turboprop to visit this month was Loganair ATR 42-500 G-LMRD (f/v) `Clan Douglas` (not photographed) which stopped in on the evening of Saturday 28 August while routing from Islay to Gatwick. It has been in service with the airline since August last year and another ATR 42-500, G-LMRE, is due for delivery in the not too distant future. Finally, on Tuesday 31 August, ATR 72-202(F) EI-SLW of ASL Airlines, routing from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Newcastle, was unable to land at the English airport, presumably due to fog, and diverted to Glasgow. Then, in the afternoon, Bombardier DHC-8-402Q Dash 8 OE-LGQ (f/v) of Austrian Airlines (Star Alliance livery) made a fuel stop while en route from Bratislava to Keflavik.
Dassault Falcon 2000 N215RE, the only corporate jet stopping over from last month, was initially tucked up the GAMA hangar but took to the air on August 8. Although on the US register, this aircraft has been temporarily based here over the summer months in recent years.
August 2021`s visiting biz jets kicked off with Embraer Legacy 650 G-SUGR (left) of Air Charter Scotland, Embraer Phenom 300 F-HEGA (f/v), Citation XLS G-NJAA, Citation Bravos G-SPRE and OY-EVO, Citation M2 D-IMIM (f/v) and Raytheon Hawker 750 9H-BSA (1st); Learjet 75 G-ZENJ Zenith Aviation and Phenom 300 G-JMBO (2nd); Gulfstream G-IV-SP N475LC (3rd); Hawker Beechcraft 400XP Beechjet SP-OOK (f/v) of Smartjet Poland (4th); Raytheon Hawker 4000 OY-JJI (f/v) Sun-Air of Scandinavia, CitationJet CJ1 G-LILE (f/v), Embraer Legacy 500 G-HARG and Phenom 100 D-IAAB Arcus Air (5th).
VIP-configured Royal Jet Boeing 737-7Z5(BBJ) A6-AIN flew in from Abu Dhabi International Airport on 2 August. I`m not sure of the reason for its visit but it may have been bringing in wealthy people from the UAE to Scotland in time for the grouse shooting season. It remained overnight and is pictured here departing at 08:45 hrs on the 3rd.
On Friday 6 August, Eclipse Aviation Eclipse 500 2-CAMP (f/v) and Raytheon 390 Premier 1 D-ITOC were the only corporate arrivals. Following on were Embraer Legacy 500 G-MSFX (7th); Gulfstream IV-SP N156WJ and Phenom 300 G-JMBO (plus other dates) (8th); Raytheon Hawker 750 9H-BSA and Eclipse Aviation Eclipse 550 2-RAYS (9th); Cessna Citation Encore D-CAWR, Citation XLS G-NJAA and Phenom 300 D-CMMP (10th)...
Friday 27 August: Embraer Legacy G-SUGR had joined Bombardier Global 6000 N1WW and Gulfstream IV-SP N156WJ on Taxiway Yankee,
Air Charter Scotland`s based CitationJet CJ2 G-NOCM, pictured above left and below, was present on various days this month. Phenom 300 G-JMBO (above right) although non-resident makes numerous visits to Glasgow Airport each year.
Next biz-wise: Gulfstream G650ER N3CP (f/v), Cessna Citation Mustang PH-TXA JetNetherlands and Citation XLS G-NJAC (11th); Gulfstream IV-SP N129NS (f/v) arrived approx 07:00 hrs from Cincinnati, Ohio. After a quick top up It departed 30 minutes later for Shannon. CitationJet CJ1 D-IERF (f/v) and Citation XLS G-NJAC also called in (12th); Phenom 300 G-KRBN Saxon Air and Citation XLS G-RWPJ (f/v) (13th); Bombardier Challenger 300 G-XATV and Embraer Legacy 650 G-SUGR (15th); Gulfstream IV-SP N156WJ, Dassault Falcon 2000EX G-NJAD, Cessna Citation XLS D-CXLS Air Hamburg and Hawker 400XP Beechjet SP-TAT (16th);
These shots show Cessna Citation Mustang PH-TXA of JetNetherlands coming in to land on Wednesday 11 August 2021.
August`s corporate arrivals continued with Danish-registered Bombardier Challenger 605 OY-VAY (f/v) and Embraer EMB-505 Phenom 300 F-HFJL (f/v). Gulfstream V N626JE arrived mid-afternoon and departed for San Francisco approx 1 hour later (17th); CitationJet CJ3 F-HJSL (f/v) (above) and Citation Excel G-SIRS (right) which was apparently involved in checking navigation-aids (18th); Bombardier Challenger 350 G-OOEG (19th); Citation Excel XLS G-OJER, plus G-SIRS returned (20th); Dassault Falcon 7X CS-DTT (f/v) repositioned from Edinburgh, plus CitationJet CJ4 M-KNOX, CitationJet CJ3 2-TEAM and Embraer Phenom 300 G-KRBN (21st)...
Gulfstream G650ER N3CP visited Glasgow for the first time on Wednesday 11 August, finally departing on the morning of the 18th.
Citation Encore+ D-CAWR Aerowest (23rd); Bombardier Global 6000 N1WW (f/v), Challenger 605 OY-VAY, Citation M2 SE-RVZ, Citation XLS G-NJAB and Eclipse 550 2-BILL (f/v) (24th): Boeing 737-3L9(WL) G-SWRD of 2 Excel Aviation arrived to take Rangers to Yerevan for their return Europa League match against FC Alashkert (returned two days later) (25th); Embraer Legacy 650 G-SUGR and Hawker Beechcraft 1000 F-HMED (f/v) (26th); Cessna 680A Citation Latitude F-HSFJ, Citation M2 F-HGRI (f/v), Citation Excel G-IPAX and Eclipse Aerospace EA500 2-CAMP (27th); Citation XLS+ G-RWPJ and CitationJet CJ4 M-KNOX again (28th); Citation M2 D-IEFD (f/v) and Citation Mustang OO-ACO (f/v) ASL (Air Service Liege NV) (29th); Citation Sovereign N492CA (f/v) (30th); The last corporate jets to call in at Glasgow during August were CitationJet CJ2+ D-IHUB of Sylt Air and GainJet Ireland`s Raytheon Hawker 800XP EJ-REVA (f/v) on the 31st.
Dassault Falcon 7X CS-DTT (f/v) repositioned from Edinburgh on 21 August. Low vis procedures were in force when the following shot was taken.
Above: Gulfstream IV-SP N156WJ parked on Area R on August 16 shortly after arrival. This biz jet, which has become a familiar sight at Glasgow International after numerous visits over the years, finally departed for Farmingdale, New York, at 09:45 hours on Sunday 29 August (below). Runway 05 was in use at the time...
Above: Air Charter Scotland`s Embraer Legacy 650 G-SUGR tops up its tanks before departure on Saturday 28 August. Below: According to the latest version of the Guernsey Aircraft register, the owner of Eclipse Aerospace EA500 2-CAMP is TAK Aviation LLC. The colour scheme certainly compliments the registration.
Scotland's first electric-powered aircraft took to the skies from a new test centre in Orkney this month. On 12 August, hybrid Cessna 337G Super Skymaster N337EE (right), belonging to electric aviation company Ampaire, made the first of several demonstration flights in the UK, covering a viable regional airline route as part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project being led by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL).
The six-seater plane, which was built in 1974, has been retrofitted at the company's headquarters in California with one of its engines replaced with an electric motor. Following initial test flights in Hawaii, it was shipped to Scotland. The inaugural UK flight crossed the Pentland Firth from Orkney’s Kirkwall Airport and continued to the regional Wick John O’Groats Airport in northeast Scotland, a distance of 37-miles (60 km). Test pilot Justin Gillen was at the controls.
The Electric EEL technology demonstrator is the first low-carbon aircraft to fly at the £3.7m sustainable aviation facility at Kirkwall airport and Ampaire believes it could pave the way to retrofitting inter-island and short-haul flights with greener technologies. (EEL images © BBC News / STV News).
The electric-powered Kirkwall-Wick trip wasn`t the only historic ground-breaking flight with an Orkney connection. This memorial, mounted on a stone plinth, stands beside the A960 Kirkwall to Deerness road on Orkney Mainland, on the site of Orkney`s original aerodrome and marks the first British scheduled internal airmail service which took place almost 90 years ago.
The aircraft used was a General Aircraft Monospar of Highland Airways, piloted by Captain Ted Fresson who took off from Inverness Airport on 8 May 1933 and landed here, at Wideford Farm.
A local photographer was on hand to record the historic event on film but the caption on this photo gives the date as 4 May 1933, rather than the 8th inscribed on the memorial.
Making a change from Beech twins, Piper PA-31T Cheyenne 2 PH-SVY landed at Glasgow Airport on Thursday 26 August for the first time. On the Netherlands Register, the aircraft was temporarily based for several days while it carried out survey work, much of it across the eastern half of the country north of the Central Belt. It was just one of a number of similar-sized planes carrying out aerial survey work in Scottish airspace over the summer months this year.
At Glasgow, Beech Twins calling in at Gama Aviation for maintenance continued to make up a large proportion of the GA movements but an increasing number of light aircraft are taking advantage of the services offered by the Glasgow Flight Centre on the Flying Club side of the airfield. King Air 200 G-IASC, in the company hangar, was the only stopover from June. Visiting during August were King Air 200 G-AISB (plus other dates) (2nd); Vans RV-6 G-GLUC (f/v) (2nd); King Air 200 G-VALK and Cirrus SR22T N57DG (f/v) (3rd); Pilatus PC-12/47 VP-CPX (4th); King Air 200 G-IASA (plus further visits). HMCG AW189s G-MCGS and G-MCGT also called in (5th); King Air 200s G-JASS and G-VALK (6th); Pilatus PC-12/47E OH-FLG (f/v) (8th); Eurocopter EC155 B1 G-LCPX (9th); Cessna 421C Golden Eagle G-ISAR (11th); Pilatus PC-12/47 VP-CPX again, plus AgustaWestland AW109 Trekker G-RMBH overflew North to South at 14:10 hours (13th)...
Above: Visiting Diamond Star G-SUEO and resident Piper Cherokee G-EVIE on Area W, Sunday 15 August 2021.
King Air 200 G-CIFE flew in from Isle of Man and left for Dublin, Diamond DA 40NG Diamond Star G-SUEO and Sikorsky S-92A G-MCGG HM Coastguard (14th); Cessna U206F Stationair G-BXDB (f/v) (15th); King Air 350 G-SRBM, plus Pilatus PC-12 VP-CPX returned (16th); Pilatus PC-12/47E LX-JFA, plus King Air G-CIFE returned (17th); AW189 G-MCGR HM Coastguard (18th); Cessna 421C Golden Eagle G-ISAR, King Air 200s G-WCCP and G-WVIP, Cirrus SR-22 G3 GTS X Turbo G-EVIB (f/v) and HM Coastguard AW189 G-MCGR (19th); Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk II G-CHER (f/v) and HMCG Sikorsky S-92A G-MCGL (20th); King Air C90GTx G-MOSJ and HMCG AW189 G-MCGR AW189 (21st); Diamond Star G-SUEO plus HMCG AW189s G-MCGN and G-MCGT called in (22nd)...
On the 23rd, King Air 350 G-SRBM (also other dates) and King Air 200 G-CEGP called in. Plus Reims-Cessna FR172F Floatplane G-DRAM was forced to divert here because of fog at Prestwick and landed at 20:45 hrs for a night stop. HMCG S-92A G-MCGL and AW189 G-MCGT also appeared (23rd); Diamond Star G-SUEO returned, Pilatus PC-12/47 VP-CPX, S-92A G-MCGL HMCG and Agusta AW109SP Grand New G-SGRP (24th); Pilatus PC-12/45 M-YBLS (25th); King Air 90GTx N95VB (Cumbernauld Airport low cloud diversion) and Piper PA-31T Cheyenne 2 PH-SVY (f/v) (26th); King Air 200 G-CIFE, Cessna 172N Skyhawk G-BRBI (f/v), Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow II G-EGVA (f/v) and Cessna T206H Stationair G-CHJK (f/v), plus PA-31T PH-SVY returned and Diamond Twin Star G-ZAZU overshot Runway 05 at 12:00 hours (27th); Van's RV-6A G-RVSA (f/v), Cessna 182T Skylane G-JHPC (f/v), Agusta AW109SP Grand New G-SGRP and AW189 G-MCGT HMCG (right) (28th); King Air 200 G-OLIV (29th); Pilatus PC-12/47E LX-JFA Jetfly Aviation and Beech C90GTI King Air G-MOSJ (30th); Lastly, King Air 200s G-FLYK and G-JASS (31st).
At 12:45 hours on Wednesday 4 August, Airbus A321-253NX G-XATW (f/v) (below) flew in from Stanstead with Boris Johnson. It took off just before 19:00 hrs that evening and headed for Aberdeen, presumably to collect the PM at the end of his latest Scottish tour. (Following image © Erwin van Hassel).
Next, De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter 292 / F-RACC (f/v) (left) of the French Air Force landed shortly after midday on Monday 9 August and night stopped. It took off the following morning at 09:50 hrs but returned six hours later to spend another night, finally departing early afternoon on the 11th.
Also on Wednesday 11 August, the first of several German Air Force aircraft to visit Glasgow International while training this month, namely Airbus A340-313 16+01, callsign `GAF 896`, overshot Runway 23 at 11:20 hrs. RAF Embraer Phenom T1 ZM333 overshot Runway 23 at 11:50 hrs on Monday 16, then US Air Force (USAF) Gulfstream C-37A 97-0401 touched down on Wednesday 19th at 19:50 hours and night-stopped, parking on Stand 39. The VIP transport remained until 12:40 the following day.
The Luftwaffe returned in the shape of Global 5000 14+04 on the 20th, Global 6000 14+05 on the 23rd and Global 5000 14+03 on the 24th, all aircraft doing overshoots. The long distance, poor quality photo below of 14+04 on finals was taken from my back window.
On 16 April 2019, Luftwaffe Global 5000 serial number 14+01 was severely damaged and written-off in a forced landing at Berlin Schönefeld Airport due to a malfunction with its flight control systems. Investigation revealed that the aircraft, which had just undergone extensive maintenance, had reacted uncharacteristically after the torque tube assembly had been wrongly installed by an aero-engineer. Almost immediately after take off from Schönefeld on a check flight the crew realised there was a serious problem. The jet began to bank and turn steeply exposing those inside to forces of up to 5G. The pilot managed to return to the airport and execute an emergency landing during which both of the plane's wings touched the runway. There were no passengers on board and fortunately no one was seriously injured, but the aircraft was found to have been damaged beyond repair. It had been scheduled to fly German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Stuttgart the next day.
German government planes have had a series of embarrassing mechanical problems in recent years. In December 2019, Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived late to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires after her plane experienced mechanical problems over the Netherlands, forcing it to land in the western German city of Cologne. In January, Steinmeier arrived in Ethiopia three hours later than scheduled after his plane encountered problems in Berlin. Later that month, Development Minister Gerd Müller had to cancel a trip to Namibia during his tour of Africa, then in February 2020 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was stranded in Mali after his Luftwaffe Airbus A319 was unable to depart, both of these incidents due to a mechanical issue. (Following photos © Picture Alliance; DW.com DPA / M Russ).
Buccaneer For Sale
Anyone with a large enough garden and upwards of £28,000 to spare may consider putting a bid in for this ex-Lossiemouth Buccaneer S.2B, Serial Number XW530. Currently on display in the forecourt of the Buccaneer Service Station in Elgin, the jet has become a well known landmark since being sited there in February 1994. It was one of a number of Buccaneers that flew from the Moray base to Bahrain during the First Gulf War in 1991. It subsequently carried out twelve missions, successfully destroying Iraqi targets. The Jolly Roger nose art was applied a few days after the completion of the plane`s final Gulf War sortie. But now a 'for sale' advert has been recently placed on the Gumtree website.
Construction & Development
The exterior of the largest building currently under construction on the Abbotsinch Road site was nearing completion by the end of the month.
The footpath paralleling the fence-line beside the executive aircraft ramp, Area Juliet, is also well advanced and it looks as though photography will still be possible from this location once the new buildings are up and running. Unless public parking is catered for at certain areas within in the new site, however, it will entail a bit of a walk to get here.
With regard to the new bridge over the Black Cart, pipes and cables were still being fitted and checked at the end of August.
Above: The A8 Renfrew-Greenock road looking west. The ramps leading onto both ends of the crossing are taking shape and the cycle/pedestrian link will join the main carriageway here, just before the 23 runway lights.
With the sharp bend towards Inchinnan and a grassy verge on the south side of the A8 this could potentially be a fairly dangerous joining point, however, a new roundabout is on the cards judging by markings on the area already cleared. I believe that continuing the cycle route all the way to Inchinnan village was ruled out after the landowner refused permission.
Erskine: The Gilchrist Gardens Estate
It had been several months since I checked out the Gilchrist Gardens housing development between Erskine and Inchinnan. The builders, CALA homes, plan to invest £40 million in the project over the next four years. When complete it will comprise 195 dwellings in the shape of 3, 4 & 5 bedroom family homes and 3 & 4 bedroom townhouses.
Right: The Teucheen Woods, which occupy a low-lying hill on the east side of Inchinnan village, are in the centre in this aerial photo of the location taken shortly before the site was prepared for development. The estate occupies the green funnel-shaped field to the right. Although relatively small in area, the woods are a precious haven for birds and other types of wildlife as well as flowers and plants.
In 1164, a force of 15,000 men under the Norse-Gaelic lord Somerled camped at Inchinnan and a much smaller force belonging to King Malcolm IV under the direction of Walter Fitz Alan, the Steward of Scotland, quartered in Renfrew. The ensuing Battle of Renfrew on 20 October 1164 saw Somerled's larger army attacked and defeated. Records show that the fiercest fighting took place at Teucheen Wood, or the `Bloody Mire` as it is sometimes called.
It`s said that ploughing the adjacent fields in years gone by revealed pieces of bone and fragments of armour. Local legend has it that two mounds within Teucheen Wood are where the bodies of the slain are buried. Other sources place the main clash on the flatter ground to the southwest, in the vicinity of the present day Inchinnan Business Park.
Reportedly the line of well established trees towering over the new development on its south and east boundaries are causing problems with TV reception, especially for those houses directly below the tallest trees. I`ve heard that it`s almost impossible to get a signal with Sky dishes here which may lead to calls to chop part of the woods, any suggestion of which would be no doubt robustly challenged by locals.
The focal point of Gilchrist Gardens is the square which has a children`s play park in the centre.
Only a few houses have open views down towards the Clyde and / or the fields to the east, including the Runway 23 approach.
Photos of aircraft from this location and the edge of the woods are best taken later in the day when the sun has moved round, or when the sky is overcast. A KLM Cityhopper Embraer Regional Jet inbound from Amsterdam can be seen in the following wide angle shot, taken from the edge of the estate...
New estates such as this are understandably popular with people wishing to move to sought after areas but, as the houses go up, undeveloped land disappears placing added pressure on wildlife already at risk due to loss of habitat and increased human disturbance. Survey work is also taking place on the area of marshland directly below the estate`s northern aspect which may indicate that this too will eventually fall victim to JCBs and builders trucks. The area could feasibly be drained and built upon, but the low-lying nature of the ground combined with its proximity to the river, may save it, at least for the time being.
According to the sign at the entrance, over 60% of the houses at Gilchrist Gardens have already been sold, and that`s just from phase one.
Although I haven`t been paying much attention to the avian activity in my garden this month, the feeders attracted lots of recently fledged chicks with their parents showing them the ropes. Most common were Goldfinch, House Sparrows, Coal Tits and Starlings. The bird boxes haven`t been successful this year so a clean out and possibly a change of position are on the cards. The only birds to set up home here is a pair of Wood Pigeon with the female currently sitting on the nest in one of the adjacent tall trees.
Judging by the piles of feathers that have appeared periodically, the local Sparrowhawks are keeping themselves well fed. One morning, one of these skilful predators made its attack, unaware that I`d just turned the corner to walk down the side of the house. It ended up right at my feet next to the wheelie bin, just about to deliver the death blow to one of the pesky feral pigeons which it had in its talons. The Sparrowhawk took off as soon as it realised I was there and left the unfortunate victim to flap away with a badly damaged wing. It would have been lucky to survive more than a few days.
The only other Sparrowhawk I saw this month was this one which I saw feasting on an unidentified small bird just a few days before the wheelie bin attack. The raptor remained partly screened by the tree branches and leaf cover as it tucked in but I managed a few grainy shots before it flew off with a full tum around 15 minutes later.
The full moon showed spectacularly large and bright during the early hours of August 24 (above). The shots below were taken during the night of 18/19 August when the moon was much lower in the sky, as was Venus (below right). All shots were taken at maximum zoom, handheld with my bridge camera.
Out & About
Nothing much of interest to report locally apart from the farmers gathering in the crops before autumn brings colder weather. It looks as though there will be a good harvest this year after prolonged spells of superb summer sunshine, a relatively rare occurrence in Scotland. Farmers throughout the UK are reporting serious problems gathering in their fruit and veg though due to a lack of workers. Much of the picking is done by people from Eastern Europe but Brexit combined with the pandemic means that the industry is suffering badly. Shortages in supermarkets have also occurred due to a lack of lorry drivers in the supply chain, again much of whom traditionally came from abroad.
I only ventured further afield twice this month: A long overdue visit to Aberdeen Airport and a single trip to Prestwick...
Even during the pandemic, Aberdeen Airport has been busier than most Scottish airports for much of the time, primarily due to the based helicopter operators flying in support of the offshore oil industry. Weekdays see most activity and between 06:30-09:00 hours there is continual action as choppers start up and taxi out for departure in between the scheduled passenger and cargo fixed-wing movements. The helicopters start to reappear a couple of hours later and spend time on the ground before returning to the rigs later in the day.
I had only been to Aberdeen once before and that was almost four years ago when I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the terminal side of the airfield.
This month I checked out the grassy mound directly opposite, located between the Babcock Helicopter apron and the Gama Aviation hangar. It`s fairly small but provides an excellent view of proceedings irrespective of which runway is in use. Plus, this vantage point is well above the fence-line which is a bonus for photographers. Cars can be left at Dyce Railway Station and from there it`s only a leisurely 5-10 minute stroll.
A surprise visitor present on 3 August 2021 was Antonov AN-26B UR-CQV of Vulkan Air but it remained parked-up.
I made a very brief stop at Dundee Airport on my way back from Aberdeen on 3 August. Very little activity on this occasion and no visiting biz-jets, however, my arrival coincided with Cessna L-19E Bird Dog G-VDOG lining up for takeoff. This veteran, c/n 24582, which looks immaculate in US Army colours and bears the serial number 24582, originally came from Dax in France where it was stationed with the French Army. It subsequently ended up in Northern Ireland where its new owner stripped it down and gave the plane its current livery.
The Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog is classified as a liaison and observation aircraft. It was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft in United States Army` service following the Army Air Forces' separation from it in 1947. Similar, fabric-covered liaison aircraft, performed well during World War II but had far shorter service lives. Cessna produced 3,431 of these planes and it was also built under license by Fuji in Japan. The Bird Dog went on to have a lengthy career in the U.S. military and saw action in Korea and during the Vietnam War. They were unarmed and slow moving which made them susceptible to enemy fire, resulting in 469 lost to various causes during the latter conflict alone. The L-19/O-1 is a much sought after ex-military warbird with many now in the hands of private pilots across the globe.
On the way back I also detoured for a brief stop at Perth Airport, a.k.a. Scone, which I`ve yet to check out properly. There was a fair bit of activity and I believe the hangars are packed with light aircraft, but it`s not great for photography unless you get permission to go airside. Apparently, this is sometimes possible so requesting a pre-arranged visit is worth considering.
Based Scottish Charity Air Ambulance G-SCAA was present, while lights included Diamond DA 42 Twin Stars G-ZAZU and G-CIKM.
Above: This Spitfire was being worked on in one of the hangars at Scone. I believe it`s a based 80% scale replica which previously bore the Australian registration VH-IJH. Vickers Supermarine never made a Mk.26 and this home built plane was manufactured in Australia by Supermarine Aircraft in kit form and shipped to the UK. It was re-registered G-CGWI (I-JH) and the three letter code consists of the owners initials.
My only visit to Prestwick this month was on Sunday 22 August, which unfortunately turned out be about the month`s quietest day with just two C-17 Globemasters appearing while I was there. Otherwise, the Ayrshire airport was fairly busy, especially with US military transports and tankers, many of which would no doubt have been connected either directly, or indirectly, the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Towards the end of the month a pair of Canadian-registered Alpha Jets called in for fuel, then a couple of days later, four Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet jet fighters, an Airbus CC-150 Polaris and C-130 Hercules arrived for an overnight stop, two of the fighters apparently having went tech. There were also several visits by large Russian-built cargo planes.
With COP26 fast approaching, Prestwick is gearing up for a large influx of event-related aircraft. It`s thought that upwards of 70 aircraft will be parked here with associated movement numbers in the region of 160. Other non-conference visitors will drastically boost these totals, no doubt attracting massive crowds in the process. It`s doubtful that the mound and adjacent streets will be open to vehicles due to security concerns therefore available parking spots could be some distance from the airfield.
The only other aircraft snapped during my visit on 22 August were USAF Boeing KC-135T Stratotanker 58-0117 of the Pennsylvania ANG, which remained on stand outside the Chevron hangar, and US-registered Beech G36 Bonanza N301RB which departed about 08:50 hrs having arrived at 17:00 hrs the previous afternoon.
The continuing backing of Glasgow Prestwick Airport by the Scottish Government, despite the facility`s catastrophic financial losses, has long been a controversial subject. Scottish ministers paid £1 for the twin-runway 365-hectare site in 2013, taking it into public ownership to protect jobs and what is seen by many as a unique regional asset. The government has since loaned the operators more that £42 million to stay afloat and written-off more than £33 million. A year-long bid to sell the airport collapsed last September, the failure reportedly largely due to the devastation caused to the aviation industry by the Coronavirus pandemic. Ryanair operate the only scheduled passenger flights from Prestwick serving a limited number of European destinations and these have resumed, but it`s the military traffic and planes stopping off on delivery that provide a steady income. Aircraft maintenance also takes place on site, both with Ryanair and Chevron.
This month, in a move that will provide a major boost to Prestwick Airport and its supporters, Storm Aviation Limited (SAL), a leading global provider of line and base maintenance and aviation training services, has acquired Manchester-based Chevron Technical Services Ltd (CTS), and its Prestwick-based subsidiary Chevron Aircraft Maintenance Ltd (CAM). SAL will create a significant presence at Prestwick Airport while adding new capabilities, including wide-body aircraft maintenance up to Boeing 747 size, repair and overhaul (MRO), aircraft component maintenance, engine services, fuel tank repairs, and recruitment services. SAL is a subsidiary of FL Technics, and together they already have access to 68,000 square metres of bay hangar space at 5 locations in Europe, China, and Southeast Asia and offer airline clients access to one of the largest independent line maintenance networks covering more than 70 airport locations worldwide. Now Prestwick also has the potential to become the group`s training hub.