View Full Version : Avro Apprentices.

Pete Berry
2nd Nov 2003, 03:58
Having read The Night London Airport Was Mine, by Padhist, I just had to contibute to this great site. The story Padhist tells is but one of many. I am proud to say Paddy Grogan has been my Father In Law for 25 years.

But this is not the only common bond we share. It is the crossing of paths in Aviation that provides us with close ties. Padhist mentions that he flew the AVRO Vulcan, not only did he fly it with a Sqn, but also on the BLEU at Bedford where he earned the AFC for his Blind Landing work.

For myself, I am not a Pilot... only during the early 1960's did I fly, and then with the AVRO Gliding Club at Woodford. Hudson, in his reply to the Padhist story, mentions flying the AVRO 748 with Tony Blackman. Here is yet another point at which paths cross. At that same time, I was a Company Apprentice at Woodford, working on the Vulcan...I remember the last production Vulcan entering Jig in the Final Assemly hall at Woodford in 1963. I also worked on the AVRO 748 and saw the maiden flight of the 748(MF) or 780. Later I witnessed the maiden flight of the Nimrod, or rather, the landing at Woodford, since the aircraft had taken off from Chester.
Also, the arrival of the Victors into Woodford after the closure of the Handly Page company. These machines were parked on the airfield for quite some time before being converted at Woodford into tankers.

During this period, I was privalaged to work with many wonderful people. One notable character was Don Wilson. He was an aviation man to the core and taught us apprentices many things, not only engineering but lessons for life. Don had been a flight test observer before he worked in the Flight Test department. One Saturday morning in 1947, he was due to be at work to fly in the AVRO Tudor. Unfortunately, he failed to get his motorcycle started and couldn't get to work. If he had, ....well, the Tudor took off that Saturday morning and because of crossed controls, crashed at the end of the Woodford runway, killing Roy Chadwick, designer of the Vulcan. Connections and fate!.
Sadly, Don passed away last year, at the age of 90.

To my mind there have been many Golden Ages of Aviation. Padhist certainly lived through a great period and Hudson too. My contribution at AVRO was modest, but was the firm foundation for 32 great years in the Royal Air Force, which I aim to continue to complete 34 years, before I retire in February 2006. Not as an Engineer, but as an Equipper! (Supplier). My service in the Air Force on helicopters then support to Tornado, Harrier and Chinook, and operations around the world with NATO and the UN and many Staff appointments over this last 32 years has been memorable... another Golden Age. Are there any more AVRO Lads out there?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
2nd Nov 2003, 04:30
I'm not an Avro lad, but I've lived in Cheshire for most of my life and know Woodford well. I remember the Woodford shows in the late 60s and early 70s. I wasn't a pilot back then, so perhaps didn't appreciate some of that 748 and Andover single-engine spirited display flying that went on. Knowing what I know now, that was some display of skill.

I remember the Victors parked all over the airfield, and Vulcans doing circuits.

At the start of the Falklands war we'd just moved to a house about 5 miles out on the SW centreline of Woodford's runway. The Vulcans (those still left in service) were flying in to have refuelling probes fitted, and if the wind was such that they approaced from the SW, boy did the house shake!