Top Landing Gear

The UK's number 1 aviation podcast on iTunes -
with a pilot, a pop star, a presenter and a fencer

Latest Releases - Series 3

Series 3 Episiode 7 - Full Flaps
Flt Lt Neil 'Faz' Farrell - BBMF Bomber Lead

In our final interview from our trip to Lincoln the TLG team talk to Flight Lieutenant Neil 'Faz' Farrell inside the iconic BBMF hangar at RAF Coningsby.

As we walk around Lancaster PA474 Neil tells us about his experiences as Bomber Leader, what it's like flying the Lancaster and about his other roles in the RAF such as flying the E-3 Sentry and instructing others to fly the E-3, Lancaster and Dakota.

We would like to thank Neil and everybody at RAF Coningsby and BBMF for all their time and help in allowing us such incredible access. We heartily recommend a trip to the BBMF visitor centre - access by guided tour only

Series 3 Episiode 7 
The Battle of Britian Memorial Flight

The team are finally back together as a foursome in the studio - well, not quite the studio but backstage at GLive in Guildford just before Roy takes to the stage on the Surrey leg of his SFG 2021 tour.In this episode we discuss all things BBMF and Lancaster after our 2020 tour to Lincolnshire. James was asked about bang seats, Jez's quick facts had to be quick - as the support band were just about to start kicking out some beats; and the quiz made a triumpant* return. Plus we hear a snippet from our interview with ex Wessex pilot and current BBMF Bomber Lead Flt Lt Neil 'Faz' Farrell.

*Triumphant in Rob's view - no one else was impressed - nor will you be!

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
RAF Chinook Display Team - Flt Lt Matt Smyth

Regular listeners to TLG will know that our aviation expert James Cartner is a former RAF Puma pilot. As such he has some kind of weird chip on his shoulder about the mighty Chinook, alleging that all any Chinook crew will talk about is how much it can lift. For the rest of us, and I suspect for James as well although he’d hate to admit it, the Chinook is an incredible aircraft, and its impressive display has long been a crowd favourite. We managed to persuade Chinook Display Captain Matt Smyth, or Smitty, to talk to us, despite James’s grudging hostility. I jest of course, and in fact during our 4 days in Bournemouth we became great friends with the whole Chinook display team .. well, we like to think we did…

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
Air Vice Marshall Simon Edwards - Assistant Chief of The Air Staff

We were extremely honoured to be invited to the Festival’s opening ceremony which was attended not only by some of the show’s participants but also some top brass, among whom was Air Vice Marshal Simon Edwards, Assistant Chief of The Air Staff. A former Hercules and C17 pilot, he’s now responsible for ASTRA, the RAF’s future strategy. Yet despite being such an incredibly important and impressive figure, he was happy to talk to Top Landing Gear. We’d had a rather early start that morning having set off from our homes at the crack of dawn and so may not have been at our sharpest. Still, we hoped that having a former RAF pilot in our ranks in the impressive shape of James Cartner, might have stood us in good stead in such elevated and illustrious company. You be the judge.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
The Tigers Army Parachute Display Team -
Pte Will Simms

Both the RAF and the Royal Navy took part in the flying display at Bournemouth, as did the Army, who were superbly represented by the Tigers Free-fall Parachute Display Team. These guys from the Princess of Wales’s Regiment and Queens Division do this in their spare time as parachuting isn’t part of their normal army life – that tends to be left to the Parachute Regiment. But they’re all highly qualified, as to be a display jumper you need to have an A-Licence which you can only get after a minimum 200 jumps. Private Will Simms from the team was kind enough to drop in on us the morning after a particularly Top Landing himself on Bournemouth Beach the previous day.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
RAF Typhoon Display Team - Flt Lt Sainty

There are those whose sole reason for attending an airshow is to watch and hear the old piston-engined fighters and bombers from WWII, and indeed few could argue with their reasoning. But for others, and I suspect the majority of airshow-goers, one of the greatest thrills is seeing the Typhoon being put through its paces, accompanied by the crackling roar of its twin jets rasping through the air. RIAT aside, there’s not a lot of heavy metal at British airshows these days, so long may the Typhoon continue to thrill us.

We caught up with 2021 Display pilot Flt Lt James Sainty, whose spectacular exhibition of speed, power and agility creates a sensory overload.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
Interview with Festival Director Jon Weaver

Since its launch in 2008, the Bournemouth Air Festival has established itself as one of the UK’s leading public aviation events, and is estimated to generate in the region of £30 million pounds annually to the local economy. It’s certainly highly regarded by aviation fans and display teams alike as it attracts top acts in the air, at sea, on the ground, including most years music acts, not least Roy Stride & Scouting For Girls who’ve been regular headliners on the main festival stage. Sadly Roy was unable to join us in Bournemouth this year, but the three of us went without him anyway, much to the disappointment of the organisers in particular who’d only invited us in the first place because of Roy’s long association with the festival. But we were made to feel incredibly welcome and were hugely impressed by the scale of the event.

We spoke to Bournemouth Air Festival Director Jon Weaver about the challenges involved in getting an event of this scale up and running, especially with all the uncertainty during the pandemic. And just how do you go about booking the acts, not least ensuring that the Red Arrows are available? We also spoke to the wonderful Michelle Roberts, Senior Press & PR Officer who was instrumental in getting us along, and who did such an amazing job looking after us, but for whom this sadly was to be her last year in the role.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
The AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers

No airshow would be complete without the intrepid AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers who’ve been thrilling airshow crowds all over the world since they were founded back in 1984. They fly the Boeing Stearman, a biplane trainer from the 1940s, with the wingwalkers climbing from the open cockpit onto the top wing to perform various moves, while the aircraft perform aerobatics in close formation, at speeds of up to 150mph and pulling up to 4G.

Unfortunately on Day Three of the Air Festival, one of the aircraft sustained a technical malfunction during the display, and pilot Dave Barrell did a brilliant job of successfully ditching the aircraft in Poole Harbour, saving his own life and that of wingwalker Kirsten Pobjoy. Needless to say there was huge relief when word got back that Kirsten and Dave were safe and sound.

Our interview with Kirsten, Dave and Andy was recorded the day before the incident, hence there’s no reference to it.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
Interview with Dave Walton, Display Director 

Putting on an airshow requires an immense amount of organisation, and safety is of course paramount. But when a display takes place over the sea, and away from an airfield, who controls the display area and calls the aircraft in to begin their display? What if they need to hold, or if there needs to be a last minute change due to unforeseen circumstances? Dave Walton is Display Director for the UK’s Coastal airshows, including Bournemouth, so who better to talk to us about everything that’s involved in the smooth and safe operation of an airshow over the sea?

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
Rich Goodwin and the Pitts Special

One of the most eye-catching solo displays at UK airshows is the ultra high-energy performance by Rich Goodwin in his Pitts Special. A former RAF Tornado pilot, Rich has been performing aerobatics for over 30 years, and his phenomenal display has spectators gasping in disbelief as he hurls his tiny Pitts Special Muscle Biplane around the sky. Rich is also passionate about building and modifying these biplanes, and as well as talking to us about his display, he told TLG about some very exciting, and unusual plans for the future.

2021 Bournemouth Air Festival Specials
The Red Arrows

With the 2021 airshow season in the UK drawing to a close, what better time to speak to Red 6, Squadron Leader Jon Bond, as he brings the curtain down on his 4 year stint with the Red Arrows. As Red 6 ‘Bondie’ is Synchro Leader, and also choreographed a brand new manoeuvre for the Reds this year called Boomerang. We also spoke to former Red 1, now OC the Red Arrows, Wing Commander David Montenegro, and Red 10, Squadron Leader Adam Collins.

Series 3 Episode 6 - Gliding

After several hi-octane podcasts celebrating the magic of the Merlin-powered Avro Lancaster, and the roar of the mighty Eurofighter Typhoon, we’re back with, not so much a bang, but definitely not a whimper either, in fact more of a whoosh. This week the TLG team goes gliding.

None of us knew quite what to expect ahead of our gliding debuts, but, as you’ll hear in our Full Flaps episode, we loved it! We hope this episode will open your eyes, as it did ours, to the glory of gliding, and the thrills it brings. It’s about far more than just genteelly floating through the air enjoying the view, although if that’s what you want it is one of life’s great airborne experiences. But it provides drama and excitement too, and as we discovered courtesy of our exuberant and generous hosts at Trent Valley Gliding Club at Kirton-in-Lindsey (, there are things you can do in a glider you might never have thought possible.

Series 3 Episode 5 Full Flaps Parts 1 & 2 -
Flt Lt Nick Callinswood and the Typhoon at RAF Coningsby

During our trip to RAF Coningsby the TLG team was given unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the Typhoon operation. Coningsby is one of two RAF stations in the UK which operates the Typhoon in the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) role, safeguarding UK airspace. We toured the hangars, sat in cockpit of an operational Typhoon, and were given a highly detailed explanation of everything that makes this spectacular aircraft such a potent weapon. We were also each allowed to fly the Typhoon sim under the expert instruction of our host Flt Lt Nick Callinswood who went above and beyond in making sure we got more from our visit than we could ever have hoped for.

Series 3 Episode 5 - The Eurofighter Typhoon - The world’s most advanced fighter jet.

In this episode we move right up to date with our visit to RAF Coningsby, one of the RAF’s Typhoon bases where our host for the day, Flt Lt Nick Callinswood, gave us incredible access as we explored and sat in an operational Typhoon, and gave all four of us instruction in the Typhoon flight simulator.   In the studio, James is interesting again when we ask him a question, and tells us that a Typhoon is faster than a Puma. We also talk about personalised aircraft registrations; and Ron Goodwin’s estate benefits nicely from Jez’s Typhoon Quick Facts which were so long, the entire Battle of Britain them tune had to be played twice.

The ever popular, ever brilliant but testing quiz turns typically niggly, with more needle than you’d find in your grandmother’s sewing kit, as Jez and James continue to try and stitch each other up. But we think the clip in the Typhoon hangar at RAF Coningsby will make the pain of listening to all that other nonsense worth your while.

Series 3 Episode 4 Full Flaps - RAF Scampton Heritage Centre Tour with Colin Clitheroe

On our recent visit to Bomber County, Lincolnshire, the TLG team visited RAF Scampton, home to 617 Squadron and from where, in May 1943, 19 specially converted Lancasters set out on that historic raid.

This is our FULL FLAPS tour around the Scampton Heritage Centre, which included sitting at the desk of Wing Cdr Guy Gibson in the very office from where he planned and ran Operation Chastise, and touring the original hangars where those Lancaster's were prepared.

Huge thanks to our wonderful guide Colin Clitheroe, a volunteer whose incredible knowledge, passion and warm humour made this an unforgettable experience.

Series 3 Episode 4 - The Dam Busters Raid and RAF Scampton

After Roy and James tried to go it alone in the previous pod, Top Landing Gear is back at full strength for this one. Throughout this series we’ve been focussing on the Avro Lancaster which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary. And this episode features the Lanc’s most famous mission of all, Operation Chastise, ‘The Dam Busters Raid’.

On our recent visit to Bomber County, Lincolnshire, the TLG team visited RAF Scampton, home to 617 Squadron and from where, in May 1943, 19 specially converted Lancasters set out on that historic raid. Jez outlines exactly what was involved in one of his best ‘Quick Facts’ to date, yet despite his extensive research he bombed somewhat in the TLG ‘Dam Busters’ Quiz.

Series 3 Episode 3 - Supermarine Spitfire prototype K5054 and Spitfire Pilot 'Jim Schofield'

With the Curling Brothers unavailable, Roy And James got together to mark the 85th anniversary of the first public display of the Supermarine Spitfire prototype K5054.   We catch up on the latest aviation news, answer a superb 'Ask James' question and conduct arguably the best Top Landing Gear quiz ever!  
It is also the perfect excuse to repeat our interview with the Spitfire pilot Jim Schofield. Chief pilot at the Boultbee Academy Where YOU can fly in a Spitfire!

Series 3 Episiode 2 Full Flaps
The Petwood Hotel and Emma Brealey

In this edition we have a delightful meal in the "Squadron Bar" at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa and chat to the hotel's owner Emma Brealey. The hotel was requisitioned as an Officers' Mess during the was and served as the base for 617 "The Dambusters" Sqn subsequent to their raid on the Dams. Emma explains the role that the hotel played during the war and talks us through the amazing memorabilia that is all over this historic building.

Series 3 Episode 2 - Lincoln ‘Bomber County’ and the Petwood Hotel

Lincolnshire was the base for our incredible T.L.G trip last year. This episode focuses on 'Bomber County' and an establishment we regard as the spiritual home of Top Landing Gear - the wonderful Petwood Hotel. A enchanting timeless place to visit and stay with enormous links to the RAF dating back to the WW2 when it was requisitioned as an officer's mess and became home to 617 squadron - The Dambusters l

Our special guest is the hotel's director and TLG friend Emma Brealey. 

Series 3 Episode 1 FULL FLAPS Pt 2 - Andrew Panton & Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ 

In this second bonus episode the TLG team are allowed inside the Lancaster… James takes the captains seat and is put in charge of the brakes. While Just Jane’s owner and museum visionary Andrew Panton gives us an interior tour of the aircraft and talks us through the engine start up. (whilst looking nervously at James)

The episode ends with a 5 minute uninterrupted sound recording of the four Merlin engines being fired up and Just Jane taxying off. Spine tingling.

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. is re-open now and after 2020 needs your support. Visit the museum or book your once in a lifetime, bucket list, Taxi ride experience today! Let's get Just Jane in the air once again!!! 

Series 3 Episode 1 FULL FLAPS Pt 1 - Andrew Panton & Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ 

NX611 ‘Just Jane’, is being restored to flight at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby. It is already providing taxy runs for the public, and the hope is that one day it will carry passengers aloft in what would be the experience of a lifetime. The man behind this thrilling project is Andrew Panton, and he is our guest in this Full Flaps edition. He tells us the very personal story of how the whole thing started and just what is involved in getting a World War II heavy bomber back into the skies.  There’s lots more going on at East Kirkby too, and over the course of this two-parter Andrew fills us in on everything that they’re striving to achieve.

Series 3 Episode 1 - The Avro Lancaster

We’re delighted to be back with a brand new series of podcasts. This series is built around our recent trip to Lincolnshire, Bomber County.  our first episode is all about the Avro Lancaster, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and about one Lancaster in particular, NX611 ‘Just Jane’, which is being restored to flight at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby. Our special guest is Andrew Panton, the man behind this exciting project.

We also have all our usual features, including Ask James and Jez’s Quick Facts, and there’s quite a turn up for the books in the outcome of the hugely popular and always highly anticipated Top Landing Gear Quiz

Series Three Trailer (plus a FULL FLAPS classic!)

In this trailer Rob gives you a brief glimpse into some of the many aviation audio treats we have planned for the coming months... And to really whet the appetite we then re-run one of our favourite interviews from 2020.

Our Full Flaps extended conversation is with David Williams. A captain with Virgin Atlantic, who in 2014 was involved in a major incident when the 747-400 he was flying developed an unprecedented systems failure resulting in only part of the landing gear locking down for landing.


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