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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 11th May 2013, 01:30
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Danny42C
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Danny sees the Mighty Fallen.

"Everone can be famous for fifteen minutes in their lives ", said Andy Warhol (or words to that effect). For the little town of Thornaby in the North Riding of York (now just a suburb of Teesside), which had never been famous for anything since the Vikings named it, and never would be again, this was to be its brief moment in the national limelight.

Six miles to the southwest lay the RAF airfield of Middleton-St-George (of evil memory), later "Teesside Airport", and recently (to universal derision) "Durham and Tees Valley Airport". In January '53 it was commanded by a New Zealander, Group Captain Geoffrey Jarman, DSO, DFC. Like Ratty in the "Wind in the Willows", he felt that nothing, absolutely nothing, in life was more worth while doing than messing about in boats. (There is a contrary opinion which defines a boat as "a hole in the water, lined with mahogany, into which you pour money," but let that pass).

His dream was to have a cabin cruiser with which to roam the waterways of the North East. Even on a G/C's pay these are pricey items, and he resolved to go about it the DIY way. He bought an ex-ship's lifeboat with a view to converting it himself. Well, perhaps, not exactly by himself. The O.C. of a large RAF Station is surrounded by highly skilled tradesmen of all kinds, who - for a suitable consideration and (of course) in their own time, could be induced to make his dream come true.

It is also true that RAF Stores has all manner of engineering bits and pieces which can be adapted for marine use - but perish the thought that any of them should accidentally find its way into the project.

Naturally it would be easier all round, and save time, if the boat remained on site during the conversion, and a corner of a hangar was devoted to the purpose. An AOC's Inspection might present a difficulty, you might suppose ? Not at all, they surrounded it with a hessian screen. "What's in there ?"......."Paint Spray Bay, Sir"...."Ah yes, very good, what's next ?".

Of course it was bound to come unstuck sooner or later. The underground story was that a SNCO, exasperated at the manhours his section was losing to the boat, blew an anonymous whistle, and the fat was in the fire.

At the end of January '53 the subsequent Court Martial was convened at RAF Thornaby. Ostensibly, this was on account of the spacious room we had in our Drill Hall. MSG would certainly have had a cinema (can any alumnus confirm ?) and this would be big enough to be the usual venue. Perhaps there is a convention that you don't court martial a Station Commander on his own Station ? (From schooldays I recall that an unfortunate Admiral Byng was hanged on his own quarterdeck "pour encourager les autres", as Voltaire put it).

The Jarman affair brightened up our dull life on Teesside no end. A crowd of Press and TV men descended on us from all over the place. We made the national newspapers (and if you Google you can find a report in his home town paper in NZ). His (no doubt expensive) defence did its best; he was cleared of many of the host of charges. But they got him on the theft of some steel sheet, and it was enough. He was duly found guilty and dismissed the Service, "Cashiered" - which means the loss of his pension. A high price for a cabin cruiser.

I had a small part to play in the affair. The part-converted boat (Prosecution Exhibit "A") was brought to Court on a low-loader trailer and parked outside my HQ. I had a photograph of it somewhere, but doubt if I could find it now.

The sentence had to be confirmed by the AOC. Batchy quashed it (for the sake of Jarman's fine war record) and allowed him to resign (so he kept his pension). It was not his only stroke of luck. In the R.Aux.A.F was a Group Captain Geoffrey Shaw, a steel baron (Chairman of Shaw's Special Steels).He took pity on Jarman and shoehorned him into a sinecure as the Secretary of the "Steel and Iron Founders Federation" (or something like that). So with this, and his pension, he finished up, if not exactly smelling of roses, at least a long way off the breadline.

And then he asked the RAF for his boat back ! There was nothing in the book to say he couldn't have his boat, and it was handed over to him. So he did quite well out of it at the end, and I trust has had a long and happy retirement, with plenty of time to spend "messing about in boats" (Wiki tells me he died in '83.)

You think that's the end ? Well no, not quite.

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


Be sure your sins will Find you Out
 
Old 11th May 2013, 18:24
  #3762 (permalink)  
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Follw-on.

I shall tell you a Mystery.

Roughly twenty years ago, long retired, in late 1991, I was leafing through a copy of "Der Spiegel", which WHS ordered for me weekly. The idea was to hang on to the smattering of German I'd picked up on a tour ('60-'62) there. An article took my eye, and made me look closer. In the text was a "mug-shot" of an RAF officer, not a particularly good one, but enough to make out the "scrambled egg" on the cap. It was our man, all right.

The article was an obituary of "Freddie Mercury" (who died 24 November '91), and who will be better known to our younger readers. It stated unequivocally that his real name was Jarman and that he was a son of the "RAF Ace" they pictured. Some ten or fifteen years later I had a look at the first laptop, googled up "Freddie Mercury" to learn that he came from a Lebanese family (IIRC).

Checking up again lately, Wiki now says that F.M. came from Parsi stock in Gujerat (India). Muddying the waters is that there is also a Derek Jarman, who is described as coming from "a military family" in New Zealand (and who died, I think, in'94).

"Spiegel" is a very highly respected and influential publication. It has a huge corps of international correspondents and a story like the one it carried would have been carefully researched.

Someone has the wrong end of the stick. I offer no explanation.

Danny42C.
 
Old 11th May 2013, 19:16
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Danny

This seems fairly definitive of Mr Mercury's forbearance:

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on Thursday September 5th 1946 on the small spice island of Zanzibar. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were both Parsee (Persian). His father, Bomi, was a civil servant, working as a High Court cashier for the British Government. Freddie's sister, Kashmira, was born in 1952. In 1954, at the age of eight, Freddie was shipped to St Peter's English boarding school in Panchgani, about fifty miles outside Bombay. It was there his friends began to call him Freddie, a name the family also adopted.

As St Peter's was an English school, the sports played there were typically English. Freddie loathed cricket and long-distance running, but he liked hockey, sprint and boxing. At the age of 10 he became a school champion in table tennis. Freddie was not only a good sportsman, his artistic skills were incomparable. At the age of twelve he was awarded the school trophy as Junior All-rounder. He loved art, and was always sketching for friends or relatives.

He was also music mad and played records on the family's old record player, stacking the singles to play constantly. The music he was able to get was mostly Indian, but some Western music was available. He would sing along to either and preferred music to school work.

The principal headmaster of St Peter's had noticed Freddie's musical talent, and wrote to his parents suggesting that they might wish to pay a little extra on Freddie's school fees to enable him to study music properly. They agreed, and Freddie began to learn to play the piano. He also became a member of the school choir and took part regularly in school theatrical productions. He loved his piano lessons and applied himself to them with determination and skill, finally achieving Grade IV both in practical and theory.

In 1958, five friends at St Peter's - Freddie Bulsara, Derrick Branche, Bruce Murray, Farang Irani and Victory Rana - formed the school's rock'n roll band, the Hectics, where Freddie was the piano player. They would play at school parties, at annual fetes and school dances, but little else is known about them.

In 1962, Freddie finished school, returned to Zanzibar and spent his time with friends in and around the markets, parks and beaches. In 1964, many of the British and Indians, due to political unrest in Zanzibar, left their country, although not under forcible pressure, and among those driven out were the Bulsaras who migrated to England.

Initially they lived with relatives in Feltham, Middlesex, until they were able to find their own small, terraced house in the area. Freddie was seventeen, and had decided he wanted to go to art college, but needed at least one A level to ensure he could get in. In September 1964 he enrolled at the nearby Isleworth Polytechnic.

I like his music, I'm with you on the rest.

Last edited by smujsmith; 11th May 2013 at 20:21.
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Old 12th May 2013, 21:26
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The Middleton St George Triangle

There must be something strange about MSG and Vampires. In mid 1964 I had an incident involving MSG and a Vampire whilst doing my Advanced Flying Training at Linton on Ouse.

I was doing my Final Handling Test with a Sqn Ldr I did not know and half way round a loop he shut the throttle and said engine failure. I did all the checks and came to the conclusion that the problem was the bloke in the right seat closing the throttle! I put out a Practice Pan and was given a steer to MSG not realising that I was virtually in their overhead. But straight ahead on the steer heading was an airfield (nearly on the horizon mind you). So I set off calling MSG on Flying Training Common which was the only frequency crystalled that most stations monitored - everyone else in the RAF being on UHF. After a very long glide and at a very worryingly low height I realised that the airfield had a lot of Jet Provosts in the circuit and twigged it was Leeming. Quick change of call and Leeming answered. I only had enough height to land on the cross wind runway and Leeming obligingly cleared the circuit for me. Jet Provosts started zooming off in all directions and my checking instructor said OK you'll get in overshoot and you've failed - we'll do it all again tomorrow.

I am glad to say it all went OK the next day. I now know that it wasn't really me be the hex affecting MSG and Vampires!

ACW
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Old 12th May 2013, 21:35
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MSG Triangle

ACW418,

Possibly a malign effect of the MSG Ghost !

Danny.
 
Old 13th May 2013, 21:36
  #3766 (permalink)  
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Danny plays Mine Host.

As we were so few living in Mess, almost everybody had a place on the Mess Committee. I think John Newboult was PMC, and I picked up the task of Wines Member (Bar Officer) for pretty well the whole of my time, so they must have been fairly satisfied with me.

Our beer came from the Vaux Breweries of Sunderland, and we always had to arrange delivery "just in time", as we had no refrigeration, and after tapping the "Samson" was only good for 48 hours in the warmer weather. And I think we used to get it in "kilderkins" (half-barrels), as there weren't all that many of us to drink it.

Although we carried a fair selection of bottled beers (Newcastle Brown Ale being the favourite), most people were content with the bitter "from the wood". In those days, lagers were almost unknown, and canned beer was far in the future. I soon found one trap that I should have to guard against. A chap would button-hole me: "Why don't you try a case of (somebody or other's) bottle ? Marvellous stuff. Had it in my last place, sold like hot cakes". So I'd order a couple of cases, he'd drink a bottle or two, then get posted and no one else would touch the stuff - I'd have to drink the rest myself to get rid of it.

Most of our trade would be on the Saturday and Sunday nights when the Auxiliaries came in with their WAGs after they'd been out for the evening (and the pubs had closed, and we were cheaper, anyway !) As until the very end of my time there, we were all ex-war aircrew or ground officers from the same era, much of the atmosphere of a wartime Mess (only ten years ago then, remember) still prevailed. We fried sausages on a pan over the open fire which was the only source of heat in the room, and if a carelessly aimed butt ended in the pan, well, that just added to the flavour.

As for pubs, we left the "Oddbods" (Oddfellow's Arms) opposite the camp gate, and the town pubs to the airmen. 608 Squadron had adopted the "Bull" at Seamer (a small country village a few miles out of town) as "their" pub. I mainly remember it as a crowded little place, blue with tobacco smoke as they all were; the bar and lounge stools being two-inch slices of solid walnut cut from right across the trunk, mounted on wrought-iron legs. They were exremely heavy, it would need a Samson to wield them as a weapon.

Of course all this meant a lot of running about in our old and dilapidated cars. Luckily there was no MOT then, and the breathaliser was a long way away still. But your old car was still your most valuable material asset, and you would not risk losing it from being "under the influence", for it would only be insured third-party, and a write-off would be a financial disaster (and death to your social life).

Besides the bar, I had my own "lock-up" in a former storeroom in the old house. The Mess had dealt with Harveys of Bristol from time immemorial, and although we were only very small customers, we were very old ones, and they treated us well. At Christmas they would always give me an allocation of three or four cases of Scotch, when it was virtually unobtainable outside for love or money (had to go for export to bring in dollars, you see - or onto the Black Market).

In this Aladdin's cave of mine I found all sorts of things which had been gathering dust in far corners for years. Who drinks Madeira now ? Yet it's quite pleasant stuff - if an acquired taste. I had a dozen tucked away (probably since the war), it was my bounden duty to the Mess to turn these back into cash. For stock that is glued to the shelf is bad news in any business, even if it's still on your Balance Sheet.

Nobly, I therefore wrote the stuff down to historic cost and (as nobody else volunteered) started to work through it myself. In three years, even a modest drinker like me can make a mark. And there were other wonderful finds. I can scarcely believe it now (and I haven't imagined it), but there was Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour (admittedly non-vintage and under the "Harveys" label - "house wine") at four bob a bottle ! - say 5 now.

Wine drinking in Britain (at least among us lower classes) was in those days a rarity, but I'll try anything once. A couple of glasses a night helped our meagre fare to taste better; the part-bottle (with my name on it) safe under lock and key inbetween times. (Actually our grub wasn't at all bad, even if, on one occasion, quite improperly short-cutting through the kitchen into the Mess, I caught the cook turning a pan of potato soup into Creme of Tomato with a bottle of Mr Heinz's best).

I cannot leave the name of Harveys without reference to their most famous import - "Bristol Cream", of which we are inordinately fond. I have never understood the Anglo-Saxon preference for wines which turn the lining of your mouth inside out. The supermarkets must sell ten bottles of Brut for every Demi-sec, even though that is (to my mind) a better drink. And I longingly recall their "White Cap" Port, which we trotted out on Dining-in nights. It had an "incense" flavour, which I liked (yes, I know, you can get "White Cap" still, but it isn't the same thing).

Off-thread for far too long. Must do Better Next Time.

'Night all,

Danny42C.


"For Malt does more than Milton can,
To justify God's ways to Man". (Houseman: Shropshire Lad - IIRC ?)

Last edited by Danny42C; 13th May 2013 at 21:53. Reason: Better idea for Title.
 
Old 14th May 2013, 00:46
  #3767 (permalink)  
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Soup!!!

Danny - I believe it's not uncommon even now for 'catering establishments' to keep a stock pot on the go and starting with a 'consomme' on a Sunday produce 'Mulligatawny' by Saturday!!!

Re your 'wine stocks' were Winterschladens of Middlesbrough not involved?

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Old 14th May 2013, 06:12
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Danny,

Madeira is still consumed'! Excellent source is a Wine Society not a million miles from Stevenage. However, the airfield at the island of the same name is not known as "HMS Funchal" without reason in spite of fairly recent "extensions".

A.D.
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Old 14th May 2013, 13:51
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Who drinks Madeira now?

I like port but sadly it doesn't like me so, to paraphrase an old saying, when someone says, "Have a drop of port, sport", my invariable reply is "I'd rather have a glass of Madeira, m'dear."

Jack
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Old 14th May 2013, 15:44
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The Grain and the Grape

pzu,

I remember Wjnterscladens well (on the corner down by the station). We would get a few "top-up" supplies from them, but all our regular dealings were with Harveys: we had been with them so long and they had treated us so well.

Yes, I suppose the idea of a thin potato soup as a "basic stock" in an hotel or restaurant would make good sense - you could turn it into almost anything with a bit of ingenuity !

As a matter of fact, I find the flavour of Heinz "Mulligatawny" Soup the nearest thing on the shop shelf today to the curries I ate in the subcontinent 70 yesrs ago.......D.

aw ditor.

I'ts good to know that Madeira has not been consighed to the history books - I grew quite to like the stuff. And I'd bet that Union Jack could enlarge on the story of "HMS Funchal" !..........D.

Union Jack,

Great Minds think alike ! I'ts "over to you" for HMS Funchal .......D

Regards to you all,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th May 2013 at 15:47. Reason: Typo
 
Old 15th May 2013, 10:20
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Soup in flight

God be with he days on the 'Herc' fleet when the in-flight dinner ration included one tin of Mulligatawny and one tin of Vegetable soup. To save any disagreements over who had which, the 'Loadie' would mix the contents of both tins and we would each have a half paper cup of Mulligaveg.

Finest kind
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Old 15th May 2013, 10:30
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Danny, the post re your Wine Member duties reminds us of the various and innumerable tasks that can be one's lot under the general title "secondary duties". You can be required to hold Inventories of items of service equipment (usually of the barrack room variety), be responsible for non-public funds (usually concerning Mess expenditure) as well as a host of other jobs which for the most part have one thing in common, ie that you have had no training or experience for doing any of them! Indeed the very people that could do them standing on their heads, such as Equipment and Accounts Officers are respectively barred from the first two examples quoted. One can see the logic in that requirement, to avoid possible corruption, but it can be at the cost of efficiency to say the least. In your case it clearly wasn't as, but for your day job, you could clearly have made a good fist at being a Licenced Victualler, though the practice of consuming excess stock to increase turn-over could be injurious to one's health and happiness if taken to excess.
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Old 15th May 2013, 11:03
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Harry Lime,

Is that the origin of "honkers stew"? Or was that another mish mash I missed on the early Herc Fleet.
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Old 15th May 2013, 17:19
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You flying gourmets did well. In-flight meals for a Tiger Moth two-hour leg were a Mars bar and/or an apple. Liquid refreshment there was none for reasons which have become even more apparent now that I'm 70+

I'm greatly enjoying the daily stories, as always Danny's memories are remarkable, please keep them coming. I have commitments at present but in this Battle of the Atlantic anniversary year I hope to post on behalf of Coastal Command and my dear friend and instructor Desmond, sometime Catalina pilot, who to the end remembered his former comrades who still rest a few miles from their bases in Northern Ireland. Best wishes to everyone!
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Old 15th May 2013, 20:48
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Soups, etc.

Harry Lime,

"Mullagaveg" is a favourite of Mrs D. and me, and "Mullatomato" goes down well, too. (Did you ever have a "loadie" called Len Rapkin(s), by the way ?).......D.

Chugalug,

Ah, the Subsidiary Duty ! The word in my time was that, on your 1369, it mattered far less how you'd done your proper job, but how good you'd been as Officer i/c Pig Farm, or Fire Officer (one of mine - very interesting), or Officer i/c Officers' Mess Cat - that was what really counted.

"Publicans and Sinners". It was only in my later years, when I had metamorphosed into the dreaded VAT-man, that I realised how apt was the biblical association. We reckoned that we could "ring the bell" every third visit on average (average "ring" 5,000), but pubs we reckoned at every second one.

I came to specialise in pubs (perhaps my earlier experience had been a help). It was not that a publican was necessarily more apt to (shall we say) make mistakes in his VAT accounts, but that the nature of his business made him simply easier to catch.

Accordingly, on my first arrival in any new locality, I always checked all the local pubs at lunchtime to find where the Senior Citizens were dining. As that meant the best grub, I would let someone else "do" them, so that at least I should not be barred from that one, however many of the others might mingle a bit of powdered glass in my curry after an official visit......D.

Smujsmith,

I don't know the derivation of "honkers' stew" (are you going to eat that, or have you just eaten it ?), but I've sure seen a lot of it (mostly as a hospital patient).

Harry Lime will fill in the details, I'm sure.....D.

Geriaviator,

You had it good. No one ever gave me any Flight Rations - had to buy my own Mars Bars (and "Bounty Bars", which the Americans called "Peter Paul's Mounds").

Now we're standing by all agog for Coastal Command ! Bring it on !......D.

Keep the ball rolling,

Danny.
 
Old 15th May 2013, 21:50
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...or Fire Officer (one of mine - very interesting)...
I was joe'd for that at in my early days as a UAS QFI. So I arranged for the Command Fire Officer to come and have a shufti and advise on our facilities - as would surely any diligent secondary duty holder.

I duly took note of all Captain Flack's observations, then wrote to the Boss and OC Admin Whinge, listing all the deficiences and requesting the appropriate corrective works services....

Which would have cost thousands! The Boss thanked me for my diligence and 'asked' whether I would prefer a different secondary duty. So I volunteered for Flight Safety Officer and had a nice week (or was it two?) in London on the firm.....

The worst secondary duty I had was as silver member at a certain East Anglian fighter base. There was heaven knows how much unaccounted plunder lurking in the silver room and attempting to sort out the property book was impossible. I asked whether it was OK to check that everything which should be there was actually there - and anything else I could keep. That fell on stony ground though....

Last edited by BEagle; 15th May 2013 at 21:51.
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Old 16th May 2013, 11:22
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Soups, etc. 2

Danny 42C

A Loadmaster by the name Len Papkin(s) does not compute with me. There was a Perkins on 47 Sqn. but then there were up to six Squadrons at Lyenham during the '70s. Perhaps someone else might know and oblige.

In flight dining on the 'Herc' was well above "Honkers Stew" level. Even the inimitable 'Lumpy Box' was a joy by comparison.


Harry
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Old 16th May 2013, 12:17
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Danny

in attached link, the Thornaby 'replica' Spitfire in storage in 2007

Dismantled Spitfire, Billingham ? 2007 | Picture Stockton Archive

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Old 16th May 2013, 12:31
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Proper "Honkers" was made by putting everything in the flight catering box into a Dixie and boiling it up on the one ring in a Shackleton galley. The home waters equivalent was "Atlantic Stew" - same recipe, different name. The job of cook went to any spare bod who was aboard.
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Old 16th May 2013, 13:29
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Bring on the Banjo!

Aldergrove's 202 Sqn Met Flight crews aboard the Hastings for 8-10 hour flights out into the Atlantic dined on Banjo Rolls. The name came from the banjo union, a circular fitting used for components such as petrol feed to carburettors or oil drains from motorcycle valve gear.

The crew took it in turns to fry bacon and eggs for insertion into a round bread loaf, known in Northern Ireland as a bap. Two captains used their rank to demand the fat from the pan poured over the delicacy, thereby boosting their cholesterol levels to undreamed-of heights, had they only known about such things. My father complained that the cockpit often became a greasy mess and had to be wiped down with petrol.
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