(Steam off wings, Photo taken by me a few mins after it stopped raining near runway 27L ).
It was early summer and the sun use set late often at around 9pm but after the summer solstice (Longest day of the year in the UK) which happed on 21 June 2003…… I knew each and every day after this day the sun was going to set a few minutes earlier than the previous day…….with earlier sunsets it would have meant having less evening sun light and thus less higher shutter speed for me to catch Concorde flying……so each month via the BBC’s weather website
I had work out sunset times for the month a head and had to make sure I had plenty of fast ASA/400 film (used to get a decent shutter speed in low-ish light to freeze Concorde in flight).
After talking a lot to Peer on SST’s forum, in June Peer suggested we should meet up and both chase Concorde…….because we’d chatted a lot over the internet I felt I knew Peer and I trusted him as he didn’t sound like dodgy person so one day after exchanging mobile phone numbers we both arranged a day, time and place to me up first and then chase Concorde afterwards.
We met at the Barclays bank car park near Hatton Cross tube station and it was great to see him, he was a warm and kind person who was as nuts about Concorde as I was…….we instantly got on well and it felt like I’d known him for years.
A few days after meeting Peer while we waited for the 7pm Concorde take off to New York I met Gordon Roxbrough and a few others on the public foot path next to the dual carriage way near the end of runway 09L (west side of the North runway)…….it was great to meet them all in person (as again as with Peer I had only ever spoken to them regularly on SST Forum)……but now it was fantastic to be with people who shared my love of Concorde and who didn’t call me a “geek“ because I loved Concorde.
Beige Wooden blocks used to
make blue stool higher
Initially the results where ok but not as good as I wanted so after another 2-3 days of experimenting (adding more wood to blue stool’s feet and experimenting with different shaped blocks of wood) I came to a good compromise where had a light weight, cheap plastic blue stool with the addition of strong, durable sturdy light weight blocks of wood on each foot which in effect added another 3 inches to the stool’s overall height.
I took it back to Heathrow to see if it would work, I was very very pleased with the results and took some good photos of Concorde…….Blue stool became an essential part of my Concorde chasing gear like a tripod is essential to some one who takes photos of buildings at night.
After a while other plane spotters around Heathrow noticed blue stool and copied it, but they used the 2 step steps to see over the grey bits of the Airport Fence so in some ways blue stool caused a mini fashion trend among Heathrow Plane spotters.
In time people who wanted to meet me knew they had to find an Asian guy carrying a camera and a blue stool so in time blue stool became famous around Heathrow in its own right.
Mid May – end of June 2003
May 2003 was a hot dry month with baking hot sunsets but June 2003 was a very wet month, some times in June the rain was like a monsoon. Some times during cloudy or wet days there wasn’t enough light in the sky to get pictures at 1/500th second or higher shutter speed which the EOS 3 needed to freeze Concorde in the air but I still went Heathrow to see her.
Wet and damp days where the best days to get the “ steam off wings “ photos
With my new blue stool in my left hand and my camera gear plus 10 spare films in my right hand I happily went to Heathrow to see Concorde…… I was convinced I’d be able to see over the grey bits of the fence to get a clearer and better pictures of Concorde flying.
First time round blue stool worked very well in most places and I got good photos but it was only 10 inches high after going to Heathrow a few more times I noticed some parts of the grey bits on the parameter fence where higher than 6ft so I knew the stool needed more height.
I decided to give it some " feet ", but need to make the feet out of cheap, strong, durable, light weight material which was easy to use……….At first I wanted to use a breeze block cut to 4 parts, filed in to shaped to fit but I never used breeze block before to do anything, so I gave up on this idea.
At home I remembered I had a lot of wood (from failed DIY projects) so wood was the obvious choice…… When I got home I got a my Black 'n' Decker jigsaw and drill out and started experimenting with different sized blocks of wood, bolted and screwed them on to each of blue stool's feet and stood on it to see if I could safely balance on the stool at every angle I could think of.
I also jumped on it a few times to make sure blue stool didn't break, when these tests where ok (the stool didn't break) I took the uprated blue stool (now with its own " platform shoes" ) to Heathrow to see if it worked in real life.