View Full Version : 100 years of Aviation,your best memory?

27th Nov 2003, 22:44
Dear all Ppruners,

Having been a member of these fortums for a little while now and having felt a lot of anger and frustration due to our career in aviation ,I thought it would be a good idea if each of us write down one of their best aviation memories to chill up the troups...
After all,we are all from the same family..Aviation.

I will start with mine.

September 1997,first solo flight in a shiny red and white C152.
After a few touch and goes wth my dear flight instructor in Florida,we came back to the apron,thinking we were doen for the day i was about to shut down the engine...he had another idea in mind..nono boy you are off again but ill be here waiting for you..the day had come when one has to realise that dream of being alone and up there...
So here i went with all the checks done,I was ready and holding short of this runway 07 in Orlando..cleared for takeoff,i applied power and started to roll..once airborne ATC tells me to make a left to join the pattern..had a question and looked at my left..sh..no one was there..was i flying by myself???oh boy...had to extend the downwind(why did they do that to me i thought..)but here i was overflying Orlando city..i was focused,finally ATC asking how it was up there gave me the clearance after 3 touch and goes to a Final stop.
Taxiing back,still couldnt believe what i had done and couldnt wait to go back up there and be part of this aviation world...

Safe Flying,


27th Nov 2003, 23:03
I had one really gob-smacking moment this year.

It was the day of the Eastbourne air fair, and quite a few planes were staging from Biggin to go down there and give a display. I'd seen (heard, and felt) a Jaguar set off just as I'd arrived, seen a red jet with a V tail (which I later found was a Fouga Magister?) come in, and seen the Dakota, Spitfire and Hurricane take off while I was waiting for my instructor to go off to Shoreham.

Anyway. I'd gone out and just stepped up onto the wing of the AA5A and slid back the canopy when I heard 'a certain noise'.

I looked up at once to see where this was coming from, and I watched the BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane fly overhead in formation, silhouetted against a beautiful summer sky.

It sent a shiver down my spine, it did. I felt like I had stepped back in time.

The Old Fogducker
28th Nov 2003, 00:53
Hello Folks:

This a rather tough order to fill! There are so many wonderful memories that the more I think about trying to separate and categorize them, the more difficult it becomes to choose which one would qualify as being "the best" in my time involved in aviation, first as a passionate youngster who built model airplanes, and later as a pilot.

The first thought that popped into my head was being at an airshow in Abbotsford, British Columbia in the early 70's when one of the Vulcans performed.

I had never seen anything so impressive! The power, the noise, the size, the rumbling in your chest cavity on the slowspeed low pass pulling into what appeared to be a vertical max power climbout ... it was just incomparable.

The next best was being beside the runway, perhaps 100 feet away from an F-106 during takeoff. Just as it came abeam my position, the AB cut in. For a fraction of a second, there was no sound at all, dead silence ... just long enough to wonder if it had suffered engine failure or intentional shutdown .......then .....BAM! I was hit by a shockwave that rattled all of my appendages and felt like I'd been slapped all over at the same time.

Although not a great memory, it is certainly a vivid one. ..... almost being killed by an Avro CF-100 "Canuck" at an airshow in London, Ontario when I was about 8 years old. Aircraft exceeded its 250 Kt speed restriction below 10,000 feet while going directly overhead the crowd at low altitude and began disintegrating.

Entire tail section broke off and landed about 20 feet from me on the ramp! I still recall that like it had happened only 10 minutes ago. After running to the general vicinty of the main impact area, I made the mistake of reaching down to pickup the pilot's helmet to perhaps keep it as a souvenir .... only to realize it still had his head in it ... had nightmares for weeks after that!

Looking forward to hearing the observations of others on this topic.


Shaggy Sheep Driver
28th Nov 2003, 02:58
One super sunny day in August 1999. BA Concorde G-BOAD. SSD on the jumpseat for the entire flight from pushback at Manchester, out over the Severn Estuary at 40,000 feet and mach 0.95, and on up to 60,000 feet and mach 2.02. Then a subsonic cruise to a lovely landing at CDG.

Sad to see the old girl on a barge in NY this week, but I have a set of memories (and a 'Pilot' article:)) I will treasure for ever from that flight.

And landing Chipmunk G-BCSL in the deerpark at Woburn Abbey for this years DH Moth rally was pretty cool, too.

Reading ChrisVJ's post below reminded me of another. Sometime in 1990s in the Chippy flying south in Manchester LLR Manch calls Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to me as opposite direction traffic. Sure enough, I see and report a Lancaster in sight in my 11:00 with a single engine piston fighter on each wing. Manch calls me as traffic to the BBMF; "roger, we have the Chippy" says the captain of the Lanc.

As we draw level, the Spitfire (on the Lanc's left wing, on 'my' side) peels off, performs a perfect barrel roll, and then re-positions on the Lanc's wingtip. One ex-RAF taildragger saluting another

A magic moment:ok:


28th Nov 2003, 17:33
Mine has to be one December morning in 1903 at a place called Kill Devil Hill. Two bicycle repair men were messing around with some sort wooden frame covered in linen. It had some sort of whirly device on it. One of these guys lay down on this thing, made the whirly thing go and this wooden frame trundled down the rails and...

...it'll never catch on.;)

29th Nov 2003, 07:21
I have been over privileged for most of my life. I have been to the airshows with Hurricanes, Javelins, Scimitars, and the Vulcan and her two contempories. I saw a perfect stack of Lightnings at Farnborough and I have seen shows in America and Canada, Red Arrows, Pelicans, Blue Angels, Snowbirds. Sometimes it is not the grandeur or the fame, it is just the moment. Like Whitstable on the N Kent coast, 1970 something,

It was a Whitstable and Tankerton Regatta weekend and I was down from London. All the sailing was being held off Tankerton for the day. It was a typical August day, hot and sunny, four o’clock in the afternoon and there was hardly any breeze. The sea was just rippled as we sat on the balcony at no 24. Pauly was reading a book and sun bathing. The regatta organisers had managed to set up a fly past, you could hear them first, a Spitfire, a Hurricane and a Lancaster flying in formation down the shore line at a couple of hundred feet on their way to Tankerton. Twenty minutes later the Spitfire returned down the beach but now at thirty or forty feet, the distinctive roar of the Merlin higher pitched, I got up and leant against the balcony rail but Pauly hardly moved. I thought the pilot was just returning towards Biggin Hill or wherever he had come from but when he got down toward Seasalter he pulled up in a huge wing over and came beating back down the beach even closer and lower. Sometimes when you stand on an old Roman road you can hear the tramp of marching feet, well I have read and heard all my life about the planes wheeling and swooping over the Kent countryside in the Summer of 1940, Pauly was there, married a pilot, saw and heard the planes, felt the unreality of those Summer months; I could smell the planes, engine oil and exhaust smoke, hear the droning engines and staccato machine guns, I’d swear if I looked up into the blue sky I’d see the con trails. The Spitfire pulled up somewhere down past the tennis courts and the engine note rose as he pulled round, nosed down and tore along the high tide line again, five, six passes, I could see the pilot in his leather helmet, I’ll swear I could make out the rivets, and then he pulled up towards the West and was gone. The air was heavy with history, pilots’ chatter, you could feel the war coming, I expected Churchill on the radio at any moment. I turned back to the balcony, Pauly had not moved, she was still reading.

1st Dec 2003, 20:53
Lots and lots of memories; some sad, most good, a few truly fantastic, and one which I'll never forget.

The sad ones - seeing XH558 fly her final display at Cranfield in 1993; the end of an era as the three Concordes came back in to LHR in October; landing at Cambridge after my first solo in eight years this summer to hear the Firefly had gone in just a few miles away at Duxford.

Good memories - every flight I've ever made; every safe display I've ever seen; watching the delight in my sons eyes as he watches the BBMF Lancaster fly over our house.

Fantastic memories - 19 Spitfires and 4 Hurricanes appearing in the Big Wing formation at Duxford a few years ago; flying into Oshkosh on my qualifying cross country in 93; helping change something on one of the Lancaster's engines at an ATC Camp twenty years ago and being rewarded by a sit in the fuselage as they ran her up afterwards; standing in Skysport's hangar a few years ago and touching the noses of both their Beaufighter and MAM's Mosquito FB6, and realising that, at that exact moment in time, I was the only man in the world who was able to touch both the RAF's WW2 principal night fighters at the same time. It's the little things that really make me smile...:O

But the one, overriding, totally unforgettable memory, is of my first flight, as a 13 year old Air Cadet. Strapped into the rear seat of a 1 AEF Chipmunk (WB569) at RAF Manston, we took off into a beautiful clear blue sky, climbed to 2000 feet, and for a few priceless minutes "I had control", and flew a single piston engined RAF aeroplane over the White Cliffs of Dover, with the ghosts of The Few up there with me. Still makes my spine tingle, even after all these years. :D

1st Dec 2003, 22:33
For me, only about forty years, but a day at Chino provided the most memorable flying day of my life. What was expected to be a quick 20 minute trip in a Stearman turned into a 90 minute adventure which included formation flying, with two others, aerobatics and tail chasing at low level.

The absolute highlight came as we were returning to Chino, I was told to catch up the others and move up on the right of the leader. As we inched closer I kept expecting to hear the voice from the rear cockpit saying “I’ve got it”. As nothing was said, I eventually tucked in behind the starboard wing of the leader and realised that this wonderful guy was letting me fly his precious Stearman within a few feet of disaster. This was my one and only experience of close formation flying and I still have a grin on my face four years later. To cap it all, we were overtaken by two P51’s just as we lined up for a run in and break.

The flight was preceded by a meeting of “The Squadron” which vividly demonstrated the differences between flying in the States and UK. Top of the agenda was a discussion about the FAA grant for a new grass runway at Chino WITH SPRINKLERS to keep it nice and soft. At the end of the meeting some old chap invited us to a hangar to look at a L39. I found myself walking across with this old man and I discovered it was none other than Lee Irwin, who was building a “new” P51 every six months. He had orders for the next five years!

What a guy! What a place! What a day!!!!

PPRuNe Pop
2nd Dec 2003, 04:05
At the age of 9 years and 7 months, living in Carshalton, Surrey, about 3 miles from Croydon aerodrome as it was called then, were based Hurricanes and Spitfires - 501 and 92 Squadrons - as well as others as they were moved hither and thither.

I remember well in August of 1940 long rectangular formations of 'large' German aeroplanes come over the house, with a lot of 'smaller' aeroplanes above them. All of them moving towards the west before turning in towards Croydon and, as it turned out, Kenley and Biggin Hill as well. I recall with some clarity the fighters from Croydon rising to meet the attackers and within just a few minutes aircraft falling out of the sky, followed by parachutes of either German or Allied airmen.

The dogfights, sometimes overhead, were for a small boy a fascination that is hard to describe but I was very much aware that we were under threat. I was three times put into the Anderson shelter we had, and three times I 'escaped' to continue the watch on this amazing spectacle unfold. But, in seemingly only a few minutes more, it was over and all the aeroplanes, bombers and fighters moved on.

An hour later there was another horde of aircraft, again German, and again the Croydon fighters rose to meet them. Again there were some shot down and again parachutes floating gently down to earth. The cachophony of engines and machine guns was tremendous. The bombs fell no-where near us but they were dropping somewhere!

This was all repeated again on other days but little by little there were no further raids and we had reached the middle of September. It is all clear what happened now, but at the time the real Battle of Britain was being fought very close to a lot of places like Carshalton - in Surrey Kent and Essex - all at the same time.

I grew up with aviation coursing through my veins. It still does but I always wondered who these brave pilots were who day after day put their lives on the line to prevent a tyrannical nation from stepping foot on a proud England. I could remember and never forget.

I lived my life in aviation and enjoyed a life that has thousands of memories. All of them, or at least nearly all of them, very happy and lived content and grateful for a life that was good.

Then I organised one of the GatBashes, on the 1st December 2000. The year of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I hit on the idea that I would like to invite a number of those brave men to the bash. 15 of them came, and they were a joy to be with. But for me I had the most humbling pleasure, almost impossible to describe. That there, right there, among those 15 truly noblest of men were 5 pilots who were fighting in the battle, above my head, in August and September 1940. It was a most astonishing moment of realisation. One that I am grateful for with all my heart. That is my abiding memory, and whatever I did with the rest of my life nothing can beat it.

Well, at least I didn't think so. But I have once again invited some of these gallant gentlemen to this year's bash, and there are two more who fought with 501 and 92 at Croydon I didn't meet the first time. I hope that there will be 6 pilots with us and I will be happy to bow very deeply to each one.

Those gentlemen, those brave few are getting fewer. I heard today from the Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot's Association that 10 have fallen to age since September.

Sadly the few will ever get fewer. God bless them all.

edited for simple maths error!

3rd Dec 2003, 07:53
Mr PPRuNePOP, sir

Nothing to match your powerful recollections of Coulsdon in 1940 (born too late). But one of my most powerful moments was close by - at the Croydon Airport War Memorial two years back. I'd persuaded Mrs tharg and one of her younger friends to go up to the site for the BoBMF's annual flypast coinciding with their gig at Biggin. Things at the Bump must have been a bit hectic and the aircraft were late. tharg receiving much ribbing and cajolery when they rumbled up from the south. Just droning specks at first then suddenly filling the sky directly overhead. Six Merlins cutting the air apart. My two companions, I noticed when I could focus again, had more than a trickle of tears running down their faces (me too, for that matter).

The youngster had hardly even heard of the Battle of Britain but these powerful spectres of the past moved her. (Oh, and Mrs T is now utterly devoted to anything with a Merlin in it).

More memories to relate, but later...

6th Dec 2003, 16:28
So many memories. Where does one start...Tiger Moths of course? I was on a Grading course
At High Wycombe in Feb 1943 and each day we made our way to the flight line for our first
Flight...Air experience. The cloud was almost on the ground and stayed that way for about 10 days
But at last it lifted and my instructor said “Right off we go". Well we climbed on and on forever
Until we topped the clouds...I had never seen a sight like it! Cotton wool as far as the eye could see
Topped with clear blue sky. After a few moments my instructor said "look down to your left" I did so and saw
A complete circular rainbow on the cloud top with the shadow of our aircraft in the centre. I can still see that.

My first air experience flight in a PT19a in Miami Oklahoma. My instructor inverted the aircraft and
asked if my straps were holding OK. I wasn't sure because I was clutching the sides of the aircraft so firmly
Nothing would have shifted me. He said "raise your right above your head"...Well my right hand shot up
and back down again so fast I doubt if he saw it. I had to repeat this with the left hand. Then he said" Right
now both hands up and keep them there...it took a bit of courage but I did it and was very pleased to
note the straps held and also to realise that I was not a bit scared???????

My first night flying cross country on Harvard’s, when I got lost due to unforcast cloud over the route
and had to make an emergency landing in a small grass field, having perimeter lights but no
‘runway’ lights I had to make 3 attempts each one scaring me silly. But at last I was
down finishing up a few yards from the perimeter. I walked across to the lighted up office building to find
it was a communications/meteorology facility. Having asked the very attractive lady in charge to phone my base
I further asked if I could have a little shut eye time on the floor. I discovered this was always my reaction to fear.
Waking after about half an hour she advised me an aircraft had gone straight down into a nearby highway
Checking the position I was sure it was one of ours. It was.

My first jet flight in a Meteor. So smooth. So much easier than the ‘Up and downers’

My two written off Mosquito’s in Singapore.

Flying one black night , over the North sea in a Canberra at 40ooo ft, I had turned down the cockpit lights and was for some time looking at a fluorescent instrument array. Very gradually the aircraft disappeared from around me and I was left sitting in space, with only the instrument panel glaring in front of me. Suddenly I came too in a panic, switched on the cockpit lights asked the navigator how he was (he must have thought I was nuts) and continued the flight. I can only conclude that I had become hypnotized by the fluorescent lights and it took a quick reassuring look at the surrounds by means of the normal lighting and contact with the Nav to bring me back to normality.

Automatic landings in the Vulcan at RAE Bedford

6th Dec 2003, 19:05
Woo. This is a toughie!

I'm not a pilot, just a looker, writer and asker of nosy questions.

My personal best is as a kid, many years ago now, I was at Brounton Burrows (North Devon) in some massive dunes looking out to sea, when RR299 THE Mosquito came howling in from the sea and overhead inland. I’ve seen this Mossie on countless occasions and the tragic loss of her crew is still difficult to accept, but for me that’s what flying, not static aviation is all about. It was about 10sec total, but it’s unforgettable. I was suddenly like a small boy in Holland, 1942. Ave atque vale. Thanks for the memories.

To stand with a group of veterans and see the Lanc, that's to see a real memorial. The BBMF are never taken for granted when seen in the sky. Lest we forget indeed.

However, what's also special, important and not often recorded is to give thanks to all those airshow display pilots who are no longer with us - this list is too long and too depressing to record, but even just this year's toll is hard to accept. Thanks chaps; the price may not have been worth it to you, but I for one, appreciate that you aviated for our pleasure.

Those with us? Lots - but Ray Hanna flying MH434 at '434s 50th Brithday Party - man, machine, military and display history - and as ever , a classic Ray display.

Flights? Well, I count as SLF - so I'll start with flying to Aus aboard VH-OJA, 747. So what? Standing in the queue to the toilets and seeing a plaque that this was the recordbreaking 747-400 of the UK - Aus non-stop flight. How unexpected is that?

Flights aboard Rapide G-AIDL at Biggin, Ju52 'D-AQUI' from Bristol to Bornmouth, Lockheed 10A CF-TCC from Rockliffe Ont, are just three standout flights in 'classic' machines. A 'hop' over Melbourne in a Learjet coutesy of Mike Falls, and a hop over Toronto in the generic 172 thanks to Doug Norris are two 'gee look at that' flights as well.

On the 17th, I'm off to Old Warden. For me there's more aeronautical history there than anywhere else, and as they used to say 'Time flies at Old Warden'.

Here's to the next 100 of history!


7th Dec 2003, 00:05
Ahhh - Mr Padhist - the Tiger Moth

Unforgettable experience for me involved quite unexpected chance to fly in one of Mr D.H.'s finest as 'talking ballast' in front seat with v. highly qualified pilot behind. While following M-25 eastwards, he put me in control and, while struggling to keep the Tiger straight if not level, I saw a Chipmunk approaching on our reciprocal. Safe lateral separation, about 1000yds. Nevertheless, started to edge Tiger away in opposite direction because the Chippie was rocking its wings. Rear-seat took control saying, "I think the Chippie wants to play. Are you OK for that?"

Instinctively said "Yes... play what?"

Back seat (rocking wings of Tiger): "World War Two dogfights. Yehaaaar!" At which the world suddenly went upside down, and land and sky were in a variety of over, under and into places that I did not believe could exist. Rolled, looped, even a stall-turn (I think - something to do with countering Chippie's Immelman). Every second of the experience lives with me - bloody marvellous - but it did not escape me that, in 1940, young men were doing this for real, right where I was, with reals guns in place of a bloke in back of Tiger shouting "Dugga Dugga Dugga. Got 'im".

Back seat informed me that "We won" - couldn't have cared less - I was there and did it.

10th Dec 2003, 19:26
On the last leg of the 1969 BP England - Australia Air Race from Griffith to Bankstown (Sydney) flying a Piper Arrow, having half a mile to run to the reporting line between Camden and Warragamba Dam, picked up the microphone to make our call. It was over two minutes before we could get a word in. The sky to our north was black with aircraft.

We overflew the field at 500 feet to be clocked in and climbed to 1000 feet, right circuit. The tower was supposed to allocate each of us a runway for landing. They gave up and broadcast "pick a 29 runway and land". We landed on 29 centre with an aircraft mid runway rolling through to the end and one turning off at the end. It was the same on all 3 runways. 60 of the 64 aircraft landed in less than ten minutes and only 3 went round.

It was a fitting climax to the "forgotten" air race which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first flight from England to Australia.

PS - we won the single engine class and came 8th overall.

Any pilot who competed might like to reply.

10th Dec 2003, 21:15
This year in particular I have had the good fortune to meet a great bunch of people who have kindly let me have gos in their aircraft - from Magister to Tristar - but my most powerful memory isn't of a flight, but watching a single take off of a single jet.

Concorde. One of the very last commercial flights, taking off early evening, with the sun already below the horizon. Photos are no longer possible because it's so dark, and so for once I am not looking through a viewfinder but am just standing on the roadside along with hundreds if not thousands of others who have travelled god knows how far just to watch one airliner depart Heathrow.

The roar lets you know she's on the way, and the landing lights blaze down at the other end of the runway. Excited voices cry 'Here she comes' and variations thereof. Cars just stop on the dual carriageway. A thousand video cameras are pointed towards her. The nose comes up, the light from the reheats becomes visible for the first time and she pulls away from the runway. In less time than it takes to read this sentence the roar has elevated to such a volume that you can feel it in your bones; your ears hurt briefly as she thunders directly overhead balance on four intensely bright flames.

Pic of a previous evening's take off, doesn't do the spectacle justice

One kid shouts into the noise 'It's a dragon!" and he's dead right because Concorde in the dark with reheats blazing is about the most awesome and fiery sight there is - or was. As she recedes into the distance and the reheats finally wink out (damn you noise abatement!) you look at everybody else around you wearing the same spread of expressions - wonder, awe, sadness - and the occasional grin at the car alarm chorus. And then it's back to the car and a silent hour's drive home thinking how far we've come in 100 years, and how far back we jumped this last month. :mad:

11th Dec 2003, 18:42
I joined the RAF in 1979 in a ground trade with no particular interest in aircraft or desire to be involved with them, however my first posting was to Waddington where at the time there were still 4 Sqns of Vulcans. I recall many happy hours on the SSA spent watching the display aircraft practicing right overhead, but the one memory that sticks with me most is from late 81/early 82, memory fading a little I’m afraid, but must have been before I left for High Wycombe in March 82.
It was the last full TACEVAL exercise that would involve the whole station and all 4 Sqns before the Sqn disbandment process started. At one stage there was a mass launch of all aircraft which must have been at least 20 plus. My memory is from standing near the taxiway on Bravo Dispersal (opposite Ops where a large crowd of invited guests were stood) and watching one after another of these mighty aircraft taxi past to join the runway and take off. The noise, the vibration in the air and on the ground, the smell of the fuel and the spectacle, the like of which will never be seen again.

And yes before anyone asks, although it had occurred to me to post this earlier, my fading grey memory cells have been sturred into action today by the news about the lottery funding for XH558.

13th Dec 2003, 03:16
14th birthday and the second ever flight.

Sat in the back of a Chipmunk and looking "up" at a ship in the Bristol channel. Minutes later flying by the side of the same ship and being amazed at how big it was when viewed from sea level. After that the earth revolved a bit before landing back at RAF St Athan.

Its taken me a very long time from those days to get my PPL but the memory has never died.:O :O

13th Dec 2003, 06:17
I think scrambling to make Concordes last ever flight, on my birthday, a few weeks ago has to be one. Trebble parked, like everybody else, on the permiter. The only time an aircraft has made me cry. Sheer power and noise, the likes will never been seen again.I have seen too many sad last flights(Firefly,Vintage pair, ist Blenhiem). It was nice to see a good one.
Personally flying upfront in Islander 8P-TAG from Mustique to Barbados on my honeymoon three years ago was a highlight, Thats where Islanders should be 1500ft over a clear blue sea!
Second to that flying in a Polish Mi-2 at 0 feet down Warsaw's main river in 1990 and having to climb to go over the bridges!
Or my first Tiger flight last year....

14th Dec 2003, 05:21
Damien, not only do you have a gift for capturing the finest images, you have the right way with words too. Thankyou.