My Home Town

Well as you might now know I live in Farnborough, the Hampshire one, ( there are 2 others in the country!)

Apart from the airfield that hosts the airshow, which was good in its day, there is not much else here worth mentioning.  So for the Mission I thought I had better try and capture some of the history.

First image is of Samuel Cody, who was an American ‘Showman”‘ that brought his Wild West show to the UK in the late 1890’s.  As part of his show he started to develop kites capable of carrying a man.  He ‘sold’ the idea to the Army that used them for artillery viewing in the Boer War.

Cody developed the kites and adapted them to have an engine and wings.  This was the first British designed aircraft.  Cody flew the machines from Laffans Plain which is now the airfield.  He also worked on the first powered dirigible balloon that was built at Farnborough.  When he was testing the engines and propellors Cody tied the aircraft to a tree, the actual tree was on site at the airfield but as it started to die apprentices, at was now the Royal Aircraft Establishment, created an aluminium replica that is still on site today.

Cody died in an accident when his aircraft fell from around 200 feet.

Sir Frank Whittle didn’t actually spend much time in Farnborough at all.  He designed his jet engine whilst in the RAF.  His company was bought out and merged with a unit at the RAE and it became known as The National Gas Turbine Establishment.  His achievement is commemorated on the roundabout by the entrance to the Farnborough Airfield.  It is a replica of the Gloster Meteor.

Now the main building known as Q121, this is actually a Wind Tunnel.  Constructed in the 1930’s it houses a 24 foot wind tunnel powered by a 30 foot wooden bladed fan.  It was decommissioned in mid 1990’s.  It is an imposing building and is now Grade 1 listed status.  Tours of the wind tunnel take place and allow access to the giant fan and also the rather spooky air return chamber with the concrete vanes for directing the airflow.

I started work at the RAE in 1970 and worked in the building behind the Wind Tunnel.  I never got to go into it whilst I was there.

It just seemed right that for the mission a triptych was the way to go.  I had a vision in my mind so set out one cloudy morning to take the shots.  Cody was difficult to get due to a fence in front of the statue.  I eventually managed to get a decent shot and then cloned out bits of the offending fence.  I also had to extend the background a little to make it more even.  B&W was the way to go as it was a black statue against grey background.  I then went on to the Whittle statue.  This is in the middle of a busy roundabout.  I managed to set up tripod on one of the islands so that the background wasn’t too cluttered and didn’t have street lights etc.  The sun had now come out but I stuck with B&W.  It was a bit difficult get the balance of highlights and shadows right.  The Wind Tunnel was the big challenge.  Trying to get a decent view of it is very limited.  I tried being near with a wide angle but due to its height it was all distorted.  I wandered around and finally found a spot some distance away that gave a clear view of most of the building.  I used telephoto lens, due to the distance away, but this gave me the opportunity to change the view and lose any distracting elements, street lights etc.  Again the sun was out but managed to get a decent exposure.

So that’s it, I’m well chuffed to have cracked a Mission eventually.  Congratulations to the others.

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  1. Loved the image and it really told the story. Well done x

  2. Congratulations Howard!

  3. Well done Howard, I have been going to Farnborough since way back in the late 60’s. Then visited the airfield to do trials work when stationed at MVEE just up the road in Longcross in the late 70,s. Taking my sons there in the 80’s to the airshows, and playing golf around the outside in the 90’s.
    Brings back great memories.

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