Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Annual Cobham Lecture, Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators

The Clerk and I attended the Annual Cobham Lecture of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators on April 26 at the Royal Aeronautical Society in Hamilton Place. The lecture was very well attended with 28 Masters of Livery Companies amongst the many guests who were members of the Guild.  I wonder if this had anything to do with the “boys' toys” nature of the lecture?

Of course both the speaker and the subject were fascinating – Ed Strongman, Airbus Chief Test Pilot Military speaking about the A400M  – that’s the military version of the Airbus – you don’t get a bigger boy’s toy than that!

Ed had a wonderful ability to reduce the most technical detail to a level that enabled us to follow the gist if not the detailed specifications.  We all understood that it has an outstanding capability as a military transport plane and can carry a load equivalent to 37,000 cans of beer. It can also be used as a tanker for air to air fuelling (I think this is the other kind of fuel). Have a look at the link – it is a very beautiful and elegant sight.

The details of the testing were breathtaking and one wonders what these pilots do for excitement – we were on the edge of our seats.  The Master Farmer asked one very prescient question: why aren’t we shouting about this from the rooftops?  It is an example of a successful international collaboration between seven countries and we seem to be keeping very quiet about it.

Incidentally the Royal Aeronautical Society has enviable headquarters – a beautiful Edwardian building with a lovely terrace overlooking Park Lane yet with a very modern lecture theatre. A very different evening, fascinating and very enjoyable!

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