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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 3rd Jan 2013, 21:30
  #3361 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Somewhere flat
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Regarding Vampire crashes, on the 8th March, 1950, at Driffield, I have Vampire F3, VF276 of 203 AFS. Lost wing tank on take-off, stalled and crashed.
Unfortunately I don't have any aircrew details to go with it as yet.

Edited to amend month.

Last edited by goofer3; 3rd Jan 2013 at 21:41.
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Old 3rd Jan 2013, 22:27
  #3362 (permalink)  
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The book " Last Take Off" reports Pilot IV Peter James Martin 20 as pilot of VF276.On take off the starboard long range drop tank came off and the aircraft climbed steeply. The port wing then dropped and the aircraft slipped into the ground from about 60 feet.
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Old 4th Jan 2013, 00:35
  #3363 (permalink)  
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P2 R.M. Willis and P4 P.J. Martin (RIP both).

ORAC, ScouseFlier, wilyflier, goofer3, and papajuliet,

Light seems to have dawned at last. It would seem that poor Martin was killed in Driffield on 8th March '50, but the death was mistakenly reported to me (in SSQ) as that of Willis.

I would think this impossible, were it not for the fact that it had happened to me before (read my #2667 p.134). A chap called Tony Davies was killed on 110 Sqdn in Burma; the death was widely reported (and believed to be), that of a Reg Duncan, whom I knew well. (Peter C. Smith, in "Vengeance!" - 1986 - Airlife Publishing Ltd.) was deceived, too).

Coincidentally, Willis was killed at Driffield on 17 October '50.

If there is another explanation, I should be grateful to hear it,

Thank you all for help and interest,


Last edited by Danny42C; 4th Jan 2013 at 00:40. Reason: Typo.
Old 4th Jan 2013, 06:18
  #3364 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2010
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On the 17th October, 1950, 2 F.1 Vampires, VF270 and VF308 of 203 AFS collided near Driffield. 1 killed in each aircraft.
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Old 4th Jan 2013, 08:31
  #3365 (permalink)  
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Off track............I'm reading 'Flying at the Edge: 20 Years of Front-Line and Display Flying in the Cold War Era' by Tony Doyle

It's a great read - and he certainly seems to verify the losses in early Meteor training in the 50's that Danny mentions..................

On track again.................

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Old 5th Jan 2013, 13:05
  #3366 (permalink)  
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It is virtually impossible to be off track here, Arclite. The charm of this thread is that it can meander as it pleases, such as with many of the conversations spent relaxing in our virtual Ante Room following a good meal and with a glass of one's favourite tipple to hand. The number of members similarly engaged is a joy to behold, but perhaps we need to start thinking of planning an extension to our Nissen Hut that Danny consigned us to so many posts ago. Now that we are in a post war RAF, any chance of us moving back into more salubrious accommodation Danny, or is it good for our souls to make do and keep feeding the coke stove?
Is it not proof also that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, when so much dotting of i's and crossing of t's can correct duff gen that has been with one for decades? I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I've learnt so much from the posts of Danny and others, not simply new knowledge but also the correcting of misunderstandings of decades.
So keep meandering one and all, for it has always been the "by the way" and "not a lot of people know this but..." asides that add to the vitality of this, the best thread on PPRuNe!
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Old 5th Jan 2013, 15:01
  #3367 (permalink)  
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Nissen-hutted Mess and draughty Nissen hut communal ablutions. (All very different now, I suppose
It certainly has. IIRC in 1960 the new Officer's Mess was built. There was still not a lot of confidence in Valley's long term future so it was built in such a style that it could be readily used as a hotel. This, of course, has not yet happened.

Those that remember Middleton St George may well know that the officer's mess was converted into an excellent establishment complete with en-suite facilities. Visiting air hostesses overnighting at the now Teeside Airport could be easily terrorised by telling them about the ghost of the Meteor pilot who speared into the building; with some advantage.
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Old 5th Jan 2013, 16:28
  #3368 (permalink)  
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Elastic Broke ?

To Friends and Foes Alike,

Stop Press. Laptop acting v. strangely; died twice in last few hours, brought back to life each time by scruff of neck using battery out & in procedure. If third time unlucky, must go back to Well Known Catalogue Store (thank Lord I shelled out for 3-year Warranty).

Last year this happened, away for a month, said needed new hard drive (all on strike in Guandung province, then ?)

Worry not, may disappear without warning. (Like Captain Oates, may be away some time). Will be back ASAP.


PS: Ruddy battery in hearing aid going out - if it isn't one damn' thing it's another !
Old 5th Jan 2013, 17:20
  #3369 (permalink)  
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Danny and a little history of 20 Sqdn.

So what would be the nature of the "co-operation" that 20 Squadron had provided for the Army in India? Essentially the age-old Frontier duty: "Subduing the Tribes". This sounds barbarous, but was really quite a gentlemany procedure.

From time immemorial, the hill tribes on the NW frontier of present day Pakistan had plagued the plains villages below, raping and pillaging, plundering livestock and grain stores and generally making nuisances of themselves. They were a constant thorn in the side of the Raj, which generally came off second-best when it went into the hills after them, but was able to contain them in their fastnesses, as we controlled the plains.

The arrival of the aeroplane altered the balance of power. An aircraft would fly over the tribal village responsible and drop leaflets saying: "We are coming over next Thursday afternoon to knock the place down". This gave them ample time to move people, livestock, charpoys, food stores, tools and possessions over to the next hilltop on the appointed day.

Then a flight of Wapities or Harts would come over and drop a lot of small bombs to do a good deal of damage. No blood would be lost, the villagers still had all the means to resume daily life, but the menfolk had to turn to and rebuild their houses. This was too much like hard work; the message got home that they had better behave themselves in future.

I cannot vouch for any of this, for it was all related to me by a Very Old India Hand I met on the boat home. What I do know is that a very similar policy was adopted in Mesopotamia (aka Irak), when we held the League of Nations mandate to administer that former province of the Ottoman Empire for thirteen (?) years in the twenties and thirties after WW1. Moreover, it was more efficient, and cheaper than sending in punitive expeditions, and the Treasury loved that.

(Back to Valley at last!)

"RE-VEILLE" (Punning title of the Valley Station Magazine).

"AVE ATQUE VALE" (Even worse pun - title of the last issue on disbandment in September 1951).

I got off at Valley station (which seemed a reasonable thing to do), and rang the SDO for transport.. There was the usual argey-bargey; I should have gone on to Holyhead (4 miles), left my heavy kit in the Left-Luggage there, and taken the bus back to RAF Valley.

This was an argument which I was well used to having; I kept it up till I'd worn him down, and he reluctantly signed the 658 (was it ?) and dug out the Duty Driver. (I bought the SDO a beer when I got in, so we parted the best of friends).

Now we must consider No. 20 (Army Co-operation) Squadron in some detail. To begin with, I think it was in Fighter Command only because it used fighter aircraft: a Beaufighter TT, Spitfires XVI and Vampires III (no surprise there then: I was not to touch a Meteor for the next four years). The Station had a Harvard and a very useful Tiger Moth. 20 Sqdn. cannot have been high on the Fighter Command Order of Battle, for it could not fight Pussy. Our guns had been taken out, we were toothless tigers.

We "co-operated" with the Army in a few simple ways: The Beau towed targets in Cardigan Bay for AA gunnery practice at Tonfanau (Nr Towyn, midway between Barmouth and Aberdovey). The Spitfires were also targets there, but by an ingenious method which I shall explain later, suffered no harm, and they did mock LL attacks on Bofors guns near Barmouth. The Vampires were high-level calibration aircraft for a R.A. experimental gun-laying radar unit at Ty-Croes, a few miles down on the coast, not far from Valley.

We were pretty busy during the summer, when the Territorials had their Summer Camps (and I think that a large part of the Army's AA was Territorial); in the quieter months we were free to do a bit of aeros, formation and tail-chasing with the Spitfires and Vampires. But there was never any serious attempt at Valley to refresh any "fighter" skills we might once have had. A couple of us went on a Gunnery course at 226 OCU (Stradishall) in April, '51, but that was all. It was difficult to avoid the impression that Fighter Command had lost any interest it might ever have had in us.

Will expand on this next time (whenever that may be),

Goodnight, all,


Never mind.
Old 6th Jan 2013, 14:10
  #3370 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 555
More pictures: 142 Sqn in France, 1939

In early 1940 Flying Off Taylor was detailed to do a flypast for Press photographers. He flew so low that the assembled party threw themselves flat and didn’t get any photos, while he continued through a tree at the far end. Inspecting the damage to the wing, with a branch driven back into the main spar, are D. A. “Dandy” MacLean, my father and Sgt. Clarke. MacLean was killed on the night I was born: see post 3286 dated December 16.

The Coles crane, apparently with civil registration, positions to lift the damaged mainplane. Note the 250lb bombs on the bomb dolly in front of crane, bombs that would be bravely but vainly delivered to the advancing Wehrmacht. Branches were used as camouflage.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 2nd Jun 2020 at 16:41. Reason: Replace greedy Photobucket pics
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 18:17
  #3371 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Has anybody got a spare laptop?
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 19:49
  #3372 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
(Temporary) Reprieve.


Laptop now behaving itself (possibly case of "fog in cockpit") - daughter has an old one, may be able to resuscitate if worst comes to worst. Hold off deluge of old laptops TFN, please. But thanks for effort on my behalf.......D.


More wonderful pics ! These must be preserved for posterity. (Re subject - one more proof that the RAF was never short of idiots). Pic would do well in Caption Competition (starter: "What made that 'ole ?".........."Mice" - from Old Bill). Nice Christmas card.........D.


Heartily second your advice to Arclite01. Join our Club !....'Fraid it'll be hard lying for quite a while yet, tho' in next place will graduate into centrally heated rabbit hutch in a Laing hut. Then no more coke stoves ( MQs excepted)...........D.


Am lost in admiration ! 50% hits on the flag (knock the "0" off and you've got five times the best I ever did), and a glider target, too ! You must have been the Ace of the Base, and no mistake.

Seriously, "My first was under training at Feltwell while dive bombing at the bombing range" - we are in dire need of new blood on this our Thread. Please let's have some more of your experiences in print here. I'm sure the Moderators would welcome you, as would we all........D.

Regards to all my wellwishers,


Last edited by Danny42C; 8th Jan 2013 at 15:22. Reason: Idiot Spelling Error - "prosterity", forsooth!
Old 7th Jan 2013, 20:14
  #3373 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Torquay, England
Posts: 838
Don't forget that if ANYONE has any badly damaged old photographs then just remember there are folks on this forum that will probably restore them for you.

These wonderful images need to be preserved.

For the youngsters that were not around when brave men needed to be transported across the World to fight on foreign shores, this was the typical means of transport.

The right hand image is just one of the few my father kept of the ships he served on. My father was in the Royal Navy but attached to the Merchant Navy and served on what was defined as 'Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships.

The image on the left is this sailor's effort at repairing the damage and I am positive folks here could do a better job.

I am NOT talking about repairing this specific picture, I am talking about pictures we might have that belonged to those that served King and Country and now might be in need of some tender loving care.

Apologies for the interruption and may I wish all the contributors to this EXCELLENT thread a HAPPY and prosperous New Year
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 23:49
  #3374 (permalink)  
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Danny and the set-up when he arrived in Valley.

The plain fact was that 20 Squadron was an anomaly in Fighter Command, and in the nature of things it tended to attract anomalous people. It would be unfair to characterise it as the "sin-bin" of the Command, but perhaps a better description of us might be as the "Awkward Squad" of that organisation. One or two examples will give the flavour of the whole.

M. was in dispute with his ex-wife's solicitor over some payment of alimony. In exasperation, he (M) made up the whole of the sum demanded in coin, put it in a barrel of treacle and sent it to the solicitor. He naturally refused to accept the payment in this form, and I do not know what happened in the end - nor what became of the treacle - but the case reached the local Press. By ill luck the story got to their Airships; another young man saw a bright career fall even further behind him.

This M was (very unusually) a man of some modest wealth. His wheels were a Green Label Bentley Open Tourer of the mid thirties. This would be worth a king's ransom today, of course, and even then it would not be as cheap as all that to pick one up (perhaps 2-300 - and a F/O had to make do on 30 per month). It was in well-worn state, and it would have been hopeless to put his meagre petrol ration into the vast tank, as he would lose the lot to rust and evaporation.

Accordingly he set up a jury-rig arrangement with lemonade bottles and rubber tubes to gravity-feed the huge float chambers. Extra full bottles were carried under the rear seat to ensure return to base. The other members of the Squadron would contribute perhaps half-a-gallon each (garages in those days were quite accustomed to such a request) to fill a bottle or two. In return, the whole lot of us could be squeezed into the huge boat of a body for the trip to the pub du jour.

Nor was this the last off his services to the community. In this most Welsh-speaking part of the whole Principality, all our Mess staff and the civilian employees on the Station spoke it exclusively among themselves, absolutely confident that we couldn't understand a word. And, of all the people whom they might suspect, M, this public-school, cut-glass accented officer (a perfect Sloane Ranger before his time) was the very last.

But the family seat was near Wrexham; in his childhood years he'd had a Welsh nanny, who'd cooed, babbled and sung to him, and told him countless stories in her mother tongue. Although his spoken Welsh was mostly gone now, he could still make sense of 99% of what was being said. This was of enormous value to us. No wartime secret was more tightly guarded, to the very end it was, I believe, kept from the natives. In this way we learned a lot of things we weren't supposed to hear (truly, "no man is a hero to his valet !" ).

S. had been in the Fleet Air Arm. In a Seafire, he was landing-on a carrier (hook stowed away ??) He contrived to bounce and float over all the wires and the barrier (the Angled Deck was waiting to be invented). There were two parked Seafires on the far side of the barrier. The day ended with S. winning 3-0 (he didn't get a scratch).

Their Lordships intimated that he might seek his fortune elsewhere. Nothing daunted, he trotted round to Adastral House. They took him on (things like that happened in those days). I must say that he bent no more Spitfires with us: on the contrary he put up a Good Show with one, which I shall describe later.

Then there were those, like me, who were simply too far outside the age/rank/seniority "box" to fit comfortably in a fighter squadron, and so were banished to odd-jobs on the periphery of the Command. To the best of my knowledge and belief, none of the 20 Sqdn alumni got past W/Cdr (only one or two made it: one was the chap who'd gone out, got himself a degree at public expense to "resettle" in civil life, then used it to get a PC back in the RAF - nice one !) Our Boss, Alex Hindley, did best of all. He made W/Cdr, resigned, went out to India and started some sort of an import agency for aircraft, and grew very, very rich.

Now I had better resume my story. As in my early training days, so now it was a great relief to get onto your Squadron, whatever and wherever that was. Now you belonged somewhere - you had an RAF "fixed address" at last; your post and laundry might (with any luck) catch up with you. As so often, the more Spartan the surroundings, the nicer the people

Laptop still firing on all four. Goodnight, chaps,


Ground tested and found servicable.
Old 8th Jan 2013, 08:59
  #3375 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
Posts: 4,393
As so often, the more Spartan the surroundings, the nicer the people
Now ain't that the truth! Some of my happiest memories hark back to Attap roofed Messes or Seco hutted "temporary" accomodation. The notion also extends to aircraft as well. The Hastings was very much an "after the Lord Mayor's Show" type vehicle, prestige wise. Others in the MRT fleet were newer and/or bigger, and the LRT fleet looked down on us all with equal and distant disdain. Sort of the Ronnie Corbett end of the John Clease and two Ronnies sketch ("I know my place..."), but the Squadron worked hard and played hard and I wouldn't have swapped it for the world.
Sounds like you had a similar set up in 20 Squadron, Danny, with some of the larger than life characters that abounded in the RAF of those days.
As regards the laptop, might I suggest giving it a good talking to? You have to be cruel to be kind you know...
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Old 8th Jan 2013, 09:38
  #3376 (permalink)  
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Seco hutted "temporary" accomodation
RN EFTS pukes at Leeming lived in the Seco huts until HRH Duke of York arrived in 1980, when they moved into the OM

Last edited by airborne_artist; 8th Jan 2013 at 09:39.
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Old 8th Jan 2013, 13:52
  #3377 (permalink)  
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RN EFTS pukes at Leeming lived in the Seco huts
Quite right too. They didn't join the Services to live and work in proper buildings.
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Old 8th Jan 2013, 17:18
  #3378 (permalink)  
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"What's in a name ? A rose by any other name...."


Interrupt away to your heart's content, John ! This is what gives life to this Thread.

Speaking as one who had four troopship voyages in the war, the picture gives a good idea of how tightly packed the ships were (although I must add that this one looks as if it's coming into a quayside, and all the chaps would be coming to one side to see what was in store for them, which is why it's listing a bit - am I right ?).......D


Laptop's ears already burning with language more suited to SWO on parade ground, barely refrained from actual assault & battery. Seems to have had desired effect (touch wood).

In all my previous references to "Laing", read "Seco" huts. (having seen pics on "Google" of both, and seen plenty of both, now at last know which is which).

True, chaps in our later days were never as good as the ones in the beginning, were they ? Suspect it was ever thus. Companions in adversity are always the truest. As for aircraft, you can, I think, develop an affection for anything if you fly it long enough (our instructors even got to like their Vultee BT-13s, and I was quite sorry to see the end of the VVs).........D

Fareastdriver and airborne artist,

Studes living in the Mess ? What next !.........D.


Old 8th Jan 2013, 17:25
  #3379 (permalink)  
Red On, Green On
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Between the woods and the water
Age: 21
Posts: 6,487
Quite right too. They didn't join the Services to live and work in proper buildings.
We liked the arrangement. No grown-ups to complain about the noise after hours and a reduced accomodation charge which meant we had more to spend on beer and women (but not always in that order).

Plus the sound of freedom close-up when the tin triangles deployed from their secret base in Lincolnshire.
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Old 10th Jan 2013, 17:45
  #3380 (permalink)  
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What Danny Found when he Got There.

Of course, the younger generation were not yet coming in to the Officers' and Sergeants' Messes, although National Service airmen were no longer a novelty. We were all wartime pilots, flying (mostly) wartime aircraft and living in typical wartime conditions. The old spirit lived on, tho' it was to fade out slowly over the next years (it would be the '60s before I had a mild surprise on seeing my first S/Ldr pilot with no war ribbons under his wings). This change was inevitable, of course, but there was a tinge of regret all the same.

"Boss" was S/Ldr Alex Hindley, and you couldn't have a nicer one. The Flight Commanders were "Willie" Hewlett (also the PMC) and "Red" Dunningham. I seem to have started in "B" Flight, then tranferred to "A" Flight, but "Willie" signs as my Flt. Commander throughout. I think that "A" Flight was supposed to have the Spitfires and "B" the Vampires, but everybody seemed to be flying both types.

The lone Beau was nominally on "B" Flight, but it was the sole preserve of two refugees from Communist oppression: Master Pilots "Joe" Halkiew (Pole) and "Zed-Zed" Zmitrowitz (Czech), although the Boss and Willie (and maybe others) were checked out on it. (I'm sorry to say that I never even looked into the cockpit !)

One of "B" Flight's pilots was Niel Ker (yes, that's how he spelt it). He had been appointed to (ie lumbered with) the task of Squadron Adjutant. There was quite a lot of paperwork, and as I, an ex-Civil Servant and ex-C.O. of my own small Unit, had some experience in fighting the Good Paper Fight, I was co-opted to assist. I could fly in the mornings, while he polished the office seat, after lunch we changed over, and vice versa the following week, and of course the show kept running when one of us was on leave, and that was handy.

We got along very well in double harness. He was a former Indian Army officer who'd transferred, first into the Indian Air Force (he was actually on No.8 Sqdn, on Spit XIVs, but long after my time), and then into the RAF on Independence. Two old Sahibs, we naturally had plenty to talk about. We kept in touch through the years: he died two years ago.

The bane of our lives was the Squadron Aircraft Inventory. You might suppose that an aircraft came (Stores-wise) as one complete unit. No such luck. First you had (say) a Spitfire XVI airframe number so-an-so. This came in under its unique Stores Reference. Then came a Merlin Mk. 266 engine serial number whatever, with its own Stores Ref. We're there now ? Not a bit of it ! As cherry on the cake, we also had 24 spark plugs (God knows what Stores Ref.) to account for. Why, of all the hundreds of parts in an aero engine, this one item should be singled out, is beyond me. Perhaps it was the easiest of all to take out and get lost.

If a complete aircraft came (raise Demand Voucher on Stores) or went (raise Return Voucher), it was relatively simple, although you had to be careful to list all the serial and reference numbers correctly, and not forget the plugs, and enter all the details of the copy Voucher in the Inventory when (if) it came back from Stores . But then there were engine changes, where only the engine details needed amendment, but the plugs had to booked-out and in like everything else. And these, IIRC, could be swapped (Exchange Voucher) from Stores when they got coked-up or whatever. And copy vouchers can easily get lost, or get entered up wrongly.

You'd need a clerk of saintly assiduity to keep up with this. We had a succession of National servicemen of very variable quality. The Inventory became a nightmare. On paper, we had twin engined Spitfires with an astronomical number of plugs, a single-engined Beaufighter with none at all, and - to cap it all - one whole Spitfire went missing (on paper, at least !) It reminded me of Burma, where rumour had it that a certain W/Cdr Chater had worked the system so well that he had at his disposal a personal Harvard and a Tiger Moth that no longer (officially) existed.

Next time we're going flying again.

Goodnight, chaps,


The Old Order Changeth.............

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