October 23 saw the first nightshoot hosted by the Gazelle Squadron at their rather picturesque home of Bourne Park near Andover. Mark Empson was there with his camera and tripod for AeroResource.
With the night’s drawing in, the autumn/winter period always proves popular with organisers offering the chance of shooting various subjects and events at night. That said, it is safe to say that Bourne Park’s inaugural event of this type did not disappoint.
Initially invite only, the event – which was later opened up to all – saw some 40 attendees arrive at the team’s headquarters to photograph a number of the Gazelle’s of the Gazelle Squadron alongside some of the airfield’s other residents. At the start of the event there were questions asked to whether or not the ‘shoot’ would proceed due to the inclement weather. Thankfully, with minutes to spare the sky cleared allowing people to take full advantage of the aircraft line up.
Established in 2013, the Gazelle Squadron has quickly grown to become well recognised throughout the UK’s aviation scene and proven to be well liked by all – despite only attending shows on static display.
The squadron currently owns a number of different aircraft, two of which were both present and active during the shoot – which was very different to other night shoots yet still provided some superb photographic opportunities. The event began at 16:00 prompt with an opportunity to view the team’s collection within the Falcon Aviation hangars. Although no photography was allowed inside, the tour offered privileged access including a look at the vast number of spares the outfit has in stock – it is fair to say that they have spares for just about any part of a Westland Gazelle! Following the tour, opportunity was given to photograph the aircraft out on the airfield during the afternoon and low evening light. That said, due to the weather the majority of photographers opted to socialise in the squadron crew room with a hot drink and slice of homemade cake – the latter proving extremely popular!
Before heading out onto the airfield at the beginning of the nightshoot, all photographers were briefed on the simple and laid-back format of the evening. All the running items – which included no less than three Gazelles plus the added bonus of a Scottish Aviation Bulldog and Boeing PT-17 Stearman – would run individually for around 3-4 minutes at different locations across the airfield. This was plenty of time to allow photographers to obtain all of the different photos and experiment with various angles as they wished. It was clear that time and thought had been taken while parking the aircraft beforehand with them presenting a range of different backdrops – including clear black skies and glowing autumn trees. Unfortunately, with heavy rain throughout the day it was announced that a number of planned guest appearances had sadly cancelled due to the weather preventing them from arriving at the Hampshire airfield.
The main event started at 17:30 just as the heavy rain cleared out to uncover a clear sky which provided a beautiful sunset. Although the nature of where the aircraft were positioned meant it was difficult to capture both them and the sunset together, the parking was for the purpose of the night shoot and not for the sunset. During each of the opportunities, the aircraft were illuminated using an industrial lighting rig providing crisp, white light – perfect for photography.
Westland Gazelle HT3 ZB627 (G-CBSK) – The Gazelle Squadron
The first aircraft to be run was ZB627 (G-CBSK) affectionately known as Ginger. This aircraft is presented in the scheme it would have carried when in service with the Royal Air Force wearing the marks of 2 Flying Training School (FTS). This particular example first flew in 1982 before serving most of its military flying career at RAF Shawbury with 2FTS.
Scottish Aviation Bulldog XX624 (G-KDOG) – Private
The second run was that of Scottish Aviation Bulldog XX624 (G-KDOG). This fine example is a privately owned resident of Bourne Park airfield and built back in 1973 before being delivered to the Royal Air Force to support the service’s training capability.
Boeing PT-17 Stearman N62658 – Private
Another resident of the airfield was a beautiful Boeing PT-17 Stearman. Used as a primary trainer by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the type was also used by numerous other air forces including Israel, Columbia and Canada. This particular example was manufactured in 1942 and seen at the event painted in United States Army markings.
Westland Gazelle HT2 XX436 (G-ZZLE) – The Gazelle Squadron
The next aircraft to be run was the second of Gazelle Squadron’s participants – XX436 (G-ZZLE) also known as Gordon to the squadron. This aircraft is presented in the colours of the Royal Marines and first flew in 1976 serving with 705 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose where it remained for the majority of its military service.
Westland Gazelle HT3 XZ934 (G-CBSI) – Private
The final aircraft running during the event was a third Gazelle example although this time from a customer of Falcon Aviation who agreed the aircraft could participate. XZ934 (G-CBSI) was seen wearing the splendid colours of 32 Squadron which have recently been applied to replicate the scheme the type carried when the unit flew Gazelle HCC4’s from RAF Northolt back in the 1980s. This particular machine first flew in 1978 before spending most of its days with the Royal Air Force.
With the engine runs concluded for the evening, the remaining time was spent photographing a few of the parked static aircraft which included Gazelle HT.3 XX406 (G-CBSH) – which belongs to a Falcon Aviation customer – Cessna 172 (G-MELT), Cessna 310 (N218U) and a Piper PA-28.
Despite this being the first Bourne Park Nightshoot, it is clear that a lot of thought and hard work went into delivering a great event for the 40 photographers who attended. The organising staff who included Andrew Morley, Chris Globe and Paul Varcoe were very attentive to all requests and, where possible, they worked to achieve a better photographic outcome – not that there were many changes to be made!
All the staff of Falcon Aviation as well as The Gazelle Squadron that also helped with the event were a credit to both themselves and the squadron in ensuring all had a great experience. When asked how the evening went the response was -“we tried to set out to achieve something different and informal to what is already being done, and I think that’s exactly what we did” – we couldn’t agree more!
AeroResource would like to thank everyone involved in the planning and delivery of the event, and very much look forward to be back out on the airfield for the next event.