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Applications Timeline

Open 1st December 2017
Close - 31st January 2018
Winners will be announced in February on Facebook

Sgt Anthony Ayre, diary entry dated 3 May 2014 and entitled

“The Best Day of My Life”

"Startled at the thought of sleeping in for the aerobatic day I woke up only to realise that it was still dark outside. The clock said 04:30 and I kidded myself I best go back to sleep. It was no good and I was far too excited, the only thing to do was to get up. Arriving on the very quiet airfield at first light I went through the aerobatic sequence in my head again and again. By 0600 I was so happy to see the first people arriving and got cracking - knocking out the bacon butties. We were all soon in briefing and allocated to an instructor and aircraft for the day.

Strapped in, engine running, I was asked if I wanted to taxi for runway 08. Having not flown a Pitts for over 10yrs, and that was for only 3 very short flights, I thought it best to get as much feel for the aircraft as possible. Weaving away along the taxiway, checking the route forward, hidden by the engine in front of me was clear, I soon lined up ready for take-off. Feeling honoured I opened the throttle and in what seemed like seconds we reached 3,000ft and I established myself in the training area. Here I was instructed on my many errors as I attempted each of the six aerobatic manoeuvres. With patience of a saint and nerves of steel my instructor Simon Abbott demonstrated and critiqued, but all too soon we were called into the display box to perform the sequence. Indicating to the judges that I was ready to start by rocking my wings 3 times I felt fare from confident. The first manoeuvre a 270’ turn left went well followed by a 45’ dive down which once corrected by Simon felt more like 90’ down. Pulling level as not to bust the min height of 1,500ft I looked left and pulling hard entered the loop. Looking forward at the 12 o’clock position I was absolutely amazed to see the horizon level, the first time today that I had got it right - I kept reminding myself to use the horizon as my reference. With boosted confidence pulling out of the loop I looked left again and sat the Pitts on it’s back to enter the stall turn. Climbing away vertically on full throttle I patiently waited for the little bit of string on the end of the wing to wiggle, indicating me to initiate full left rudder and full right aileron. As we pirouetted around the left wing I was wide eyed heading straight for the ground yet quite stunned how smooth it all felt. Pulling out level I travelled back up the display box for the half Cuban manoeuvre, looking left again I pulled for a 3⁄4 loop. Again passing the 12 o’clock the wings were level. Pushing at the 9 o’clock and heading off in a 45’ straight down line whilst inverted I counted to 3 and rolled upright, a further count to 3 and pulled level ready for the aileron role. Raising the nose slightly I became conscious of Simon hooting and roaring from the back but too engrossed and pushing the stick hard left for the last manoeuvre it was not until we were wings level that I realised he was expressing his amazement that I had actually pulled it all together. We laughed and joked all the way down-wind to land. What an amazing flight.”

The Spirit of Ayre model made by Sgt Ayre’s Uncle..

A model of The Spirit of Ayre made by Sgt Ayre’s Uncle, showing the aircraft’s wonderful livery and flying overhead RAF Halton.

The underside of the aircraft. In a loop, the profiles of the upper and lower wings will join to display a RAF Roundel with heart centre-piece