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Jessie The Jeep

My 2016 Season In Pictures

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Since 2009, I've finished the year with a photo recap of my MV season. There's nothing else planned for December, unless it snows and I'll take the Jeeps out for a play, so it's time to wrap up the season. As the season began, it was looking to be quiet year locally for shows. School really messes up your travel plans when going by MV, and as my daughter doesn't escape until 15:10hrs, it does interfere with getting somewhere at a reasonable time on a Friday evening. That limits trips further afield.

 

However, the first trip out was a spur of the moment trip on January 14th, when it suddenly began to snow heavily. I didn't have any pictures of the GPW in the snow, so rushed out in the early morning rush hour traffic to find some country lanes for pictures. With the top down and being pelted by snow, I got both odd looks and smiles from those driving to work in their warm modern cars!

 

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The first proper event of the season is usually the Yorkshire MVT Crank Up event in mid April, into the centre of York. About a week before the event, I took the M201 over to the storage yard where I keep the Dodge so I could run the Dodge and exercise the brakes etc. When I came to leave, the Jeep wouldn't turn over on the starter. I turned it a few times on the starting handle, and then it started fine, and I drove home. Upon getting home, I pulled the plugs and turned it over on the starting handle, and got some water squirting out of number four cylinder. The head gasket was leaking and close to going completely.

 

I ordered a new gasket, and had it fitted and test driven with a couple of days before the 180 mile run to York and back on April 17th. Normally, I head down on my own, and meet up with the rest of the YMVT guys for the road run from Tadcaster into York, but due to the top end stripdown, opted to meet up with some of the Teesside guys, and follow them straight to York centre for back up. The usual location next to York Castle was already booked by the Scouts, so we met in the park by the river, in amongst the trees. It made a nice change.

 

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The next trip was on May 21/22nd, and first trip out fo the Dodge, taking it to Blyth Battery for their wartime weekend. The forecast didn't look great, so I opted not to camp, as being right on the coast, it can be very windy and cold. As it happened, the poor weather didn't happen and they had 6000 people through the door on the first day. There were about a dozen or so vehicles in addition to the dioramas around the former gun battery.

 

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A couple of weeks after Blyth, on June 4th, with no events and nothing else going on, we took the GPW for a run out to Fishburn airfield, as they have a great cafe there, and a nice close view of the aviation.

 

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June 11th and 12th saw two events on locally, one a new event and the other an existing event. We chose to do a day at each, taking both Jeeps to both events. The new event was at Sedgefield, and it was a multi-period living history event on a big site. It took most of the day to explore all the different eras, interrupted by a vehicle parade mid afternoon, followed later by a big WW2 battle at the end of the day.

 

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The following day was the Tanfield Railway Steam Gala. One station at the end of the line was having a classic car display in the car park. In return for parking the Jeeps up for the day, we got a free travel pass for the day on the railway. Six locos were running during the weekend, five of them steam, and two were guest visiting locos. There are plenty of great photo opportunities around the oldest railway in the world.

 

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A couple of weeks later, on June 25/26th, was another new event, this time at Barnard Castle. The event was spread along the main street, with around a dozen vehicles parked along the market place, with several re-enactor displays on the grassed area next to the castle, and also displays in local church halls and council buildings. There was an RAF "Operations Room" with re-enactors who replayed a raid on the North East coast on August 15th 1940. While there was a downpour on Saturday afternoon, the rest of the weekend was dry and sunny.

 

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A week later was a Fly/Drive-In to Fishburn airfield. I got word of a Harvard flying in the day before, and so arranged to visit on Friday July 1st for a photoshoot before it all got too busy during the event.

 

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On July 2nd, I returned to Fishburn with the M201, but could only stay until mid afternoon, due to my daughter performing on stage at the Sunderland Empire. There were plenty of wheels in attendance, both military and civilian, but very strong wind and scattered showers kepy away visiting aircraft, so the aviation content of the event was limited.

 

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Another week later, on July 9/10th, was the Yorkshire Water Wartime Experience. We got washed out at the first event in 2012, and since then, they've had pretty good weather; until we returned in 2016! We trailered the GPW there, leaving as soon as school turned out the kids, setting up camp as the Sun went down. Saturday was pretty well washed out except for the armour parades and battle. Sunday was much better.

 

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Another week after that was our annual trip to Breighton Airfield for their Summer Fly-In. Last year we took the GPW, so this year was the turn of the M201. The weather was perfect, giving us a fairly calm, sunny weekend, ideal for flying and the Saturday evening hangar party. We had one of the BBMF Spitfires give us some fly pasts, and the sun behind the crowd line makes it ideal for photography. During the evening, a number of people had a go driving Jessie up and down the airfield, and by the end of the evening, I had clocked up 13 miles of rides!

 

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In return for giving so many people a go of the Jeep the night before, I was promised a flight on Sunday, as was asked which of the collection aircraft I'd like to fly in. Due to my interest in the US Army Air Force, the Ryan PT-22 Recruit US primary trainer was the obvious choice. So late on Sunday afternoon, I was strapped into the front seat. I caught some video of the take off and climb out, but then had to stop filming when I was given the controls. I flew the rest of the flight to the North of the airfield, before pilot Les Clarke asked if I wanted to fly a run and break along the runway. From there we were straight into the landing circuit, where Les talked me all the way down to grease the Ryan onto the centre line of the runway, then taxiing off to the fuel point. It was my first landing in any aircraft, and I was over the Moon that it was in a WW2 trainer. I'm still smiling now!

 

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All was then quiet until the first weekend in August which was the Croft Nostalgia show at Croft Circuit. I'm involved in the running of the show and a change in personal circumstances made it possible to take all three of my vehicles without excessive travel back and forwards to the circuit, 40 miles from home. The GPW was taken on Thursday, followed by the M201 and Dodge on Friday. Once again, we had great weather, allowing our flying displays and visiting aircraft in, and plenty of vintage racing on the circuit.

 

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A couple of weeks after Croft on August 20th, was a small event in Durham city centre, near the Gala Theatre. Once again, we had both Jeeps out to play. It stayed dry until later in the afternoon, giving us a wet run home.

 

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Another almost new event was the Beamish Open Air Museum's "Dig for Victory" event in its second year. This is a four day WW2 themed event, located around their 1940's farm, though we were only available for Saturday September 3rd, taking both Jeeps out again. The whole site at Beamish covers many different periods of the North East's history, but the 1913 town was of particular interest to me. As towns wouldn't have changed much from WW1 to WW2, I wanted to try and get some nice photos of the vehicles amongst the buildings. Unfortunately, the weather didn't want to play, and we had quite heavy rain on and off all day. We did however, have the opportunity to drive around the whole site any time we wanted to give the public something to see.

 

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A month later, on October 1st, the former Royal Ordnance Factory, now a climbing wall and trampoline centre was having its first anniversary open day. About half a dozen MV's turned up for the day, parking up in the grounds of what was once a huge site, now all covered by an industrial estate and business park.

 

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Another month passed before the last two events of the year. The first on November 4th, saw all three of my vehicles out again, this time for the 1/3 of a mile trip to my daughter's primary school for the year 6 students who have been studying WW2 history. The trip had been postponed from October due to a poor forecast, but it gave me time to recruit some extra visitors to the school. One guy had to drop out ill, but in the end, we had four MV's on show and four 20 minute lectures. We even had the head mistress and class teacher driving one of my Jeeps around the school field!

 

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To finish the season, I took the M201 to the local aircraft musuem for their Remembrance Service on November 13th. The site was the former RAF Usworth, home to RAF's 607 Sqdn, and breifly assigned to the USAAF flying Beaufighters. Until just a few years ago, I never know I had a USAAF presence just four miles from my door.

 

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It turned out to be a great season, with some very special memories and some wonderful pictures.

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