All photos by Les Bywaters
Out of the Hangar
Emerging from the DevonAir Hangar
Positioned on the runway
Positioned on the runway
October 30th 1999 was a cold and blustery Saturday on Kemble airfield with a 25 knot easterly and low, dark cloud. But, after nearly three years of inactivity, Ron Mitchell's Canberra, TT.18 WJ680, was scheduled for engine runs and slam checks. The starboard engine had been changed a couple of weeks previously and other minor faults rectified which culminated in these engine runs and subsequent successful retraction tests. Ron and his crew had cause to change the nose wheels early on the day but soon prepared the Canberra for its excursion. Eventually, the Kemble towing tractor eased WJ680 out of the Devon Air hangar and onto the main runway, positioning it into wind and pointing over the grass.
Start Starboard
Starting the starboard Avon
During the slam checks
". . . everything's OK John. You're drying out the grass nicely."
With the familiar sight and sound of the Avon cartridge starters both engines were started and spooled up. Over the next hour, with the weather growing steadily worse - winds gusting above 25 knots and ever more frequent rain squalls, John Gannon (ex-RAF Chief Tech) and Andy Southam (RAF Engine Fitter - 39Sqd), carried out a series of successful engine run tests - even though John had to hold the rudder in the wind by the strength of his legs as there was no rudder lock.
Air brakes
The air brakes work . . .
Moving under its own power.
The air brakes test went OK as did all other tests until, finally, under Andy's watchful eye, John taxied away from the run position and back down Kemble's runway. WJ680 was moving under its own power after three years. A marvellous sight for Ron Mitchell and a great encouragement for the task he has set himself with this aircraft .
Back to the hangar
Back to the hangar in the driving rain

Finally, with the rain coming down in earnest, Kemble's tractor slowly reversed WJ680 back into Devon Air's hangar.
A successful day and I thank Ron Mitchell for letting me attend.