D’Arcy Collection. Paintings and Prints by Bill Perring. Aviation, Landscapes, Marine, and Figurative.




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An RAF Lyneham Hercules over the Cherhill Monument

A Limited Edition of 850
Image Size 11" x 22" (280mm X 560mm)
Price £40 inc p+p

Circled by trainees on circuits and bumps, and looked for by crews returning from operations overseas, the Cherhill Monument and White Horse stand as the gateway to R.A.F Lyneham, home of the Hercules.

The obelisk was built around 1845 in honour of Sir William Petty, and the white horse is the work of Calne physician Christopher Allsop who, in 1780, accomplished the cutting of the 125 foot horse by stationing himself far enough away to view the whole image, and shouting instructions to his workmen via a megaphone. I felt a certain affinity with this gentleman when one summer's evening I circled the hill, camera pressed to the window of the Herc, and shouting to the pilot over the roar of the engines, "Left a bit.....a bit more......GREAT!!"

The telephone call from R.A.F Lyneham was wonderfully brisk and business like. "There's a training flight going up at five-thirty. Can you be here by five?" Two hours later I was sitting on the flight deck of B flight Hercules 291 as it made it's way down the runway in what seemed a very leisurely fashion, lifting into the air with an ease that belied its bulk. 'Fat Albert' is certainly a functional aircraft. The flight deck is comfortable enough, even if it does resemble the interior of a second hand Landrover, and roomy enough to allow excess baggage such as myself to lurch from window to window, snapping away at the passing landscape - but the noise of the engines makes the wearing of ear-defenders obligatory, and my heart goes out to anyone who has to travel any distance in the cargo bay. One look around this dark, fume-filled cavern made me very glad not to be confined to it, and I suddenly understood why paratroopers always go out at the run.

So what is it about the Hercules that makes it so well liked? Those who fly them seem to have a genuine love for the plane, as do the ground crews who service them. The local people, far from resenting their presence, appear to have a fondness for 'Albert' that must be the envy of many of the more glamorous aircraft, and I, who can now boast a whole two and a half hours flying time, have to say there is something sort of friendly about it. It probably has a lot to do with its rounded, non-threatening lines and its long association with humanitarian missions . . . but could it also be that, from the front, it looks just like a Koala Bear?

Shown here in its present day colours, number 291 has a long and distinguished service record which includes, on the 24th June 1982, after a twelve hour flight and two mid-air refuellings, being the first Hercules to land on the Falkland Islands.

Hot air balloons seem to be almost as much a feature around Cherhill as the Hercules itself, and I have spent several pleasant evenings watching them glide gracefully over the hills to land in the surrounding fields. Of course, on the day I went up there were none to be seen, but I have it on good authority from Lyneham that such close encounters do take place. I'm very glad - the painting just wouldn't have been the same without them.

For all enquiries regarding these prints please contact:
Bill Perring
D'Arcy Collection
8 Marlpit Lane

Tel: 01737 555727