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Report - RAE Bedford/ Oct 2015 (Visited Apr 2015)

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by The Lone Shadow, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. The Lone Shadow

    The Lone Shadow Industrial Fanatic!
    Regular User

    Aug 3, 2013
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    In 1946 Thurleigh became the site for the second Royal Aircraft Establishment site.
    Two new runways were built in the post-war period to accommodate the Bristol Brabazon aircraft (which required a very long runway) that ultimately never went into production.
    One local road was dropped into a cutting so that it would not sit above the level of the runway.
    The site had several reasonably large wind tunnels, one supersonic and one large subsonic.
    It also had a 'drop tower', the drop tower is now used as a skydiving training venue.
    It was often touted as a possible site for the third London Airport (long before Stansted Airport took on that role).
    The local community was strongly opposed and many rural buildings were adorned with slogans such as "Thurleigh -NO!", "No! No! No!" and "Maplin Now".
    The supersonic tunnel was dismantled by 2005 and the building which held the fans and driving motors is now used as the set for the BBC popular science programme, "Bang Goes The Theory".
    The RAE was deeply involved in the development of Concorde and was also a centre for the development of the Instrument Landing System.
    Local villages were being circled by airliners in the middle of the night, with planes testing the ILS; the planes would take off, circle, and re-land continually.
    On 13 March 1961, a Hawker P.1127 (XP831), the prototype of what would become the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, took its first regular flight at RAE Bedford.
    Also in March 1967 the U-2 flew out of RAE Bedford.
    During the 1970s RAE Bedford became home to numerous flight simulators, originally using model belts and camera technology, but later utilising computers.
    In the early 1980s the Advanced Flight Simulator was constructed, allowing pilots to be immersed in a fully three-dimensional moving simulation.
    Also in the early eighties, RAE Bedford oversaw the development of the Short Take Off & Landing STOL system for the Sea Harrier (the most visible part of which are the up-curved ramps (ski-jumps) on the decks of Royal Navy aircraft carriers).
    This brought hundreds more takeoffs and landings that circled overhead which was ironic considering that Thurleigh has one of the longest runways in Europe and was previously one of the Avro Vulcan Bomber dispersal bases.
    In recent years, engine housings and wings were developed/tested for the Airbus.
    In April 1991 the Royal Aerospace Establishment (as the Royal Aircraft Establishment had been renamed) which operated the airfield at Bedford, was merged with other agencies to become the Defence Research Agency (DRA).
    The DRA would later become the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.
    In February 1994 the airfield was decommissioned after a lengthy study determined that flight operations should be centralised at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.
    (Borrowed from Session9)

    The Explore
    Visited with Session9 and Hamtagger; loved this explore, entrance was easy as we tried not to look too conspicuous, a strategic maneuver from Hamtagger guaranteed an uninterrupted explore at a nice at a leisurely pace. We went straight to the machine hall and had a nice wander all around some of the walkways and through some of the corridors of the lower level avoiding the PIRS as we went. We spent several minutes shooting up the main fan and admiring its grandeur. Then we headed up to the generating stations and snapped up the control rooms which are in absolute mint condition – Some of the most unique pieces of machinery I have ever come across exploring. Spent many hours wandering around the control rooms whilst trying to figure out what each switch and lever does – good times.



















    Thanks for viewing

    The Lone Shadow
    mw0sec, clebby, The Wombat and 2 others like this.

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  2. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
    Regular User

    Oct 14, 2012
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    This looks a great explore
    Excellent photos
  3. The Lone Shadow

    The Lone Shadow Industrial Fanatic!
    Regular User

    Aug 3, 2013
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    Thanks Wombat, it was a very memorable explore, well worth a visit.
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