Threshold Aero RAF Brize Norton Air Mobility Fleet Photoshoot

27/05/2023

In late March, Threshold Aero announced a photoshoot at RAF Brize Norton planned for Saturday, April 29th. The cost was £50 per person, with the money going to the Royal Air Force Association. The opportunity to get onto RAF Brize Norton and have a closer look at the RAFs heavies was too good to miss, so I naturally purchased tickets. 

An email came through on April 27th from Threshold Aero stating that the event had been posted until May 27th due to the ongoing situation in Sudan. All 4 of Brizes based types were working tirelessly to evacuate people from Sudan and assist wherever necessary. They weren't going to have the aircraft or the time to host a photo shoot for a group of plane spotters, and that is of course completely understandable. 

Our attention then turned to the newly announced date. As you can imagine, we all hoped for some Spring Sun to beat down on the Oxfordshire base, and we got lucky that it did! 

The aircraft announced to be on display were a pair of C-130 Hercules, which was the main attraction for many people as they are due to be retired later this month. Also announced were a single A400 and a C-17. Up until the event, there was no mention of a Voyager, which I personally saw as a missed opportunity. But, as we were listening to our safety briefing, we were told that we would have some access to look around one of the RAFs Voyager KC.2 aircraft, so the opportunity wasn't missed after all! 

Having listened to the briefings from members of Threshold Aero, the 99 Squadron Commander, and members of the RAF association, we were given essentially free reign of the 99 Squadron ramp. We weren't allowed onto the aircraft but the ramp of the A400 and C-17 was open, so you could still get a feel for the sheer size of the aircraft and how much cargo they are capable of carrying.

ZZ172 was the C-17 provided for the photoshoot, and we were lucky that another C-17 was parked behind our jet awaiting its next mission. It was nice to take the time to walk around this behemoth of a jet and get a closer look at it. It is something you don't get at most air shows, certainly in the UK. It was nice to finally catch ZZ172 as that was one of my final 2 RAF C-17s, I'm now hot on the heels of ZZ171!

RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ172

RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ178

The newest RAF A400 was positioned on the 99 Squadron ramp for us to see. It was nice to not only see the newest aircraft but get a proper close-up look at it as well. Not part of the photoshoot but available to photograph was whatever was on the main ramp. This bagged another few aircraft, including the second newest A400. 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM401

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM406 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM414 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM420 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM421 

As I said above, I think the highlight of the event for most was the C-130s as they are due to be retired later this month. ZH868 and ZH870 appeared to be the best-looking hercs left in service, as ZH867 and ZH889 were 50 shades of green! I photographed 867 and 889 from the Black Bourton gate from outside of the base after the event had finished. It would've been nice to have had ZH889 at the shoot as that is the sole remaining C.5 variant left in service, but the hercs we had looked great nonetheless. 

RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4 ZH867

RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4 ZH870

In 2 separate groups, we were taken out to photograph a Voyager. The jet provided was ZZ333, and crews were hard at work on it when we arrived in the morning. Voyager ZZ336 was visible across the ramp parked up. Whilst there, a pair of Voyagers departed on operations, with one tanking RAF Typhoons from RAF Coningsby to Lajes Field in Portugal and another heading to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. An Air Tanker A330 was also towed past us on its way to the hangar.

RAF Airbus A330 Voyager ZZ330 ASCOT9302

RAF Airbus A330 Voyager ZZ333

RAF Airbus A330 Voyager ZZ336

RAF Airbus A330 Voyager ZZ338 ASCOT2130

Air Tanker Airbus A330 G-VYGJ

Also present at the base throughout the visit were a pair of aircraft from the Royal Air Force of Oman. A single Airbus A320 taxied out past us as it headed for runway 25. We were told at the time that we cannot share those photos on any social media platforms and as such those pictures will not be visible on my page. A Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules was parked on the herc row. As I was outside of the airfield at the time those pictures were taken, they can be seen below. 

Royal Air Force of Oman Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules 501

It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and I certainly look forward to seeing what Threshold Aero has lined up for the future. A big thank you must go to everyone who made this event possible!