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All Posts, Aviation, Military History

Author Guest Post: Scott Rathbone


Following the launch of his book Military Low-Level Flying From F-4 Phantom to F-35 Lightning II, we asked Scott Rathbone which aircraft he featured he considers to be the ‘rarest’. The answer, he states, could be found on pages 100-101. Scott went to explain his choice.

During June 2005, four Polish Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters arrived at RAF Coltishall for a squadron exchange with RAF Jaguars of 41 Squadron.

With only a couple of confirmed sightings at low-level during a similar deployment in 2004, hopes weren’t high for the prospect of capturing them flying in the valleys during this deployment either. However, that turned out not to be the case, as less than half a dozen lucky people discovered on 10 June.

The day after arriving, three of the four deployed Su-22’s flew low-level through the Lake District accompanied by four of their Jaguar hosts. The images in the book were captured by Brian Hodgson, one of the lucky few, as this turned out to be the only time they were captured at low-level during the deployment. The sight of Russian built hardware at low-level in the UK was not something that I would have expected to see!’

The week commencing 6th June 2005 had proved to be a great week for low flying in the Lakes. Most if not all types had been through by Thursday with Tuesday and Wednesday being busy days. Thursday 9th saw the arrival of four Polish Air Force Su-22M4 Fitters at Coltishall for a deployment with the based Jaguars. They immediately became the Holy Grail for low-level photographers to try and catch, but a similar deployment a year earlier had offered few opportunities so people weren’t getting carried away. Thoughts were that the best chance lay with a familiarisation flight on the 10th. And so it was that during the afternoon of 10th June 2005, a day that had produced a good haul for a friday anyway, three of the six visiting Fitters would make their way along the main Cumbrian route through Thirlmere, accompanied by four Jaguars. For the small number of photographers there that day, it will no doubt be a day that they will never forget. Brian Hodgson
Another of the Polish Air Force Su-22 Fitter K’s to pass through Thirlmere on 10th June 2005. At one time the sight of a Soviet built fighter jet in the valleys of the UK would have been either unthinkable or worrying!

Order your copy here.