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“And like no other sculpture in the history of art, the dead engine and dead airframe come to life at the touch of a human hand, and join their life with the pilot's own.”

240. A Curate’s Egg day

Firstly, the disappointment.

We’d arranged several weeks ago to meet up with Joe Shute, the Features Editor of the Daily Telegraph, since they’d expressed an interest in running a feature on 1264. He’d contacted us to say that he couldn’t make the appointment, but we’d made an alternative arrangement for today, on the strength of which Theo and I drove the 3 hours to Shuttleworth to meet him. In fact, Sue had taken the day off work and we’d driven up the night before and we’d stayed in a hotel on Sunday night in order to be sure of being there on time. The time we’d arranged was 1000, and when nobody had turned up at 1100, I rang his mobile. I could tell from the ringtone that he was abroad, and about an hour after that I got an apologetic SMS saying he’d had to go to Moscow at short notice, and hoped I didn’t mind too much.

I understand that a newspaper needs to be able to respond at short notice to events, and I understand that the decision may not have been Joe’s but if they want to be able to have people investigating stories at short notice, they must employ have sufficient resources to do so without letting others down.

The paper’s behaviour is simply unprofessional, and I do feel considerably aggrieved and hope they will have the decency to offer a formal apology and some sort of restitution.

Happily, however, the day was not wasted, as we rolled 1264 out into the sunshine and spent a happy day talking to visitors to the Collection.

We’d also arranged to meet Jem Shaw and his brother Martin. As you’ll see from the link, Jem is an author and artist with an interest in WWI, and had contacted me to thank me for the information in these scribbles which had helped him produce a truly excellent illustration of a Bristol Scout called ‘First Kite‘.

His brother is Martin, the actor and TV star and experienced pilot, and they both said they’d love to come and have a look at 1264, and we spent a very pleasant day showing them around and chewing the fat. We swapped prints with Jem, and we’ll be in contact again, I’m sure – we have a great deal in common with both of them, and indeed their friend Bruce Monks, an ex-Harrier pilot who used to display the Stearman belonging to himself and Martin.

David, Jem Shaw, Martin Shaw, Bruce Monk, Theo Willford, Richard Chillingford

David, Jem Shaw, Martin Shaw, Bruce Monk, Theo Willford, Richard Chillingford

Martin Shaw sat in 1264.

Martin Shaw sat in 1264.

And finally we were able to test out the RNAS coat we’d had made at Wested Leather. It’s very, very heavy and the leather is luxuriously supple, and we all took to it immediately – as you can see!

Sue getting into leather

Sue getting into leather

Theo getting into the mood...

Theo getting into the mood…




239. Wedding Bells

Nothing to do with aviation, this, but I thought you’d like to know that Rick, who’s played such a major part in rebuilding his grandfather’s aircraft, got married yesterday to Marian, who’s been to a number of static displays with 1264.

They were married in Tenbury Wells Pump Rooms, which is about 4.5 miles from home, and got there in the scurry cart which they’ve built in order to compete in scurry driving events.

Rick and Marian Bremner at the Tenbury Wells Pump Room with their ponies and scurry cart

Rick and Marian at the Tenbury Wells Pump Room. Even the ponies – Archie and Delphi – are smiling!

Rick and Marian Bremner in Market Street Tenbury Wells

Rick and Marian in Market Street Tenbury Wells

238. Display

No pictures tonight, but a lot of really good news to impart.

We spent the whole day at the Shuttleworth Collection in ideal weather conditions. Inevitably it took hours to get from arriving through the gate to actually getting in the air – around 3, to be precise, although there was very little needed in the way of prior preparation, and around 1200 I took off and flew in circles to try and nail the right hand turns so that they would remain more or less in balance throughout. Whereas left turns are more or less instinctive, requiring the application of left rudder throughout, right turns have to be initiated with right rudder, and then immediately taken off, or even reversed in order to keep the aeroplane flying straight throughout.

Twenty minutes later, I reckoned I’d more or less got the hang of it, so landed to find Dodge Bailey there. We decided to have a bite to eat, and then do some practice displays in the hope of getting my authorisation signed off.

And after lunch, I did a couple of seven minute displays, both of which went smoothly enough, and included a significant number of right turns, and Dodge pronounced himself happy to sign me off.

So I’m now, or will be shortly, a proper Display pilot, authorised to fly the Scout at airshows. I found it was a surprisingly emotional moment for me,  and I’ve been tingling with pleasure all afternoon at the thought.

And late in the afternoon, Theo got another flight in as well, and we reckoned he was fully capable of flying 1264 in Greece and France as a result, so all in all it’s been a VERY satisfactory day.

Tomorrow, with the Shuttleworth experts on hand, I’m going to do a little more investigation to see if we can’t persuade the engine to give us a bit more power so that Grandad would be pleased with her performance, but we won’t be needing to fly again until the Shuttleworth Navy Days display on 5 June.

237. Prinos Airfield

These photos are some of the most exciting so far this year, as they show the work that’s being done to prepare the airfield on Thassos island. This is the exact spot that Grandad landed 100 years ago, and it’s beginning to look very likely that we’ll be able to do the same, 100 years later.

Is this exciting? You betcha!

2016-05-13 Prinos airfield 4

Looking north, with the hills behind Kavala on the mainland in the background

2016-05-13 Prinos airfield 3

Some surface water at present, but I’m sure it will be fine by the time it’s levelled and – hopefully – a grass or other surface on it.

And here's the digger that's been doing the work.

And here’s the digger that’s been doing the work.

Check out the Kavala airshow Facebook page, where we get an honourable mention. if you can possibly make it for that weekend, it will be a very special event on both sides of the water, and lots of sun and beaches for those who aren’t into aeroplanes.

10 May 1916. Imbros.

9 May.

Bunnie in Gunbus 8903.

Started with Sub Lieut Oxley on reconnaissance of straits, one cyl cut out, so came back. Landing fair.

Bunnie in Gunbus 8910

Transferred to this machine and went off. Attempted to go over land near Chan Tepe at 7000 ft but two very large black archies burst about ten or twenty yards in front of me, I could hear the bits humming past*. We had seen what we wanted to, so we did not wait to climb higher, and came home. Landing not too good.

*Blimey! Archie wasn’t seen as too great a threat, but every now and then a lucky shot came a bit too close for comfort.

Bunnie in Gunbus 3925**.

Test flight, passenger A.M. North. A nice machine, but a bit nose heavy coming down. Engine excellent. Landing quite fair. Slight S.W. breeze.

**This machine was originally sent to the Western front at St Pol in January and for some reason sent on to Imbros. It’s likely this was its first flight post delivery.

10 May.

Bunnie in 1264.

Hun seaplane seen so I went off after him, but I never saw him. When down by Helles at 8000 I saw a machine over Kilia Liman, so I went to investigate and saw he was a Fokker. I was then near Chan Tepe. He then headed for Helles so I turned and flew alongside him, gradually closing on him. He came straight for me, then when about 100 yds off he turned and dived down. My engine was missing a bit so I did not follow. He circled over straits by Kephez. One cyl then cut out, so I came back.

6 May 1916. Imbros.

5 May.

Bunnie in 3037

Looking for big ship in straits. Took 20 min to climb to 10,000 ft. Not nearly good enough. Strong N.E. wind and bumpy near the ground. Landing quite fair.

Dickinson (entry dated 7 May* – the last entry in his diary)

Fitzherbert, Bremner and Blandy off before dawn to bomb a big ship which is reported in Ach Bashi Liman. Slept much better. Much cooler, north wind. S.P. told me that he had sent to the Wing Captain for his approval for my leave and that I could go next week.

*A strange inconsistency, this. Dickinson’s diary gives every appearance of having been written up every evening, and should therefore be dated correctly. The same applies to Bunnie, and yet these two entries, which are unequivocally of the same event, are two dated two day apart.

6 May.

Bunnie in 1264.

Took four sixteen pounders to bomb E15**. Started at dawn. I came down to 500 ft. I first tried to attack her in a fore and aft line, but the wind was cross wise and I drifted a little and never saw her through the hole***. I then attacked her athwartships, and with the wind. My first was rather short, second I did not see. I circled and attacked her again in the same direction, but about 10 yards short, second one ten yards over. Blandy in the Nieuport was just above me. A certain amount of archie, and I think rifle fire. Very slight N.E. wind. Landing good.

**Another little mystery here. HMS E15 was a British submarine that ran aground on the Turkish seafront in April 1915, and was sunk a few days later in a heroic action by two Naval picket boats armed with torpedoes to stop her falling into the hands of the Turks. Today she lies in 8m of water. so why, more than a year after she sank, were they attacking her again?

*** This is the entry that makes me think 1264 may have had a hole cut in the floor of the cockpit, maybe like the picture below

Scout C with possible bomb aiming hole in the floor

Scout C with possible bomb aiming hole in the floor

Bunnie in Nieuport 12 s/no 8903.

Taking Burnaby to observe foreshore batteries while Abercrombie, Grafton and M.17 were firing. No excitements. Practically no wind. I again pancaked a bit, even though I was wearing white glasses. I can’t quite judge these machines properly the last few feet. However landing was tail down and slow.

236. We got wheels!

Regular readers will know that we’ve had more problems with ground transportation than in the air in this project; the trailer took a good deal of sorting out to get it to tow satisfactorily, and in the meantime I wrote off my Skoda Octavia in a jackknife accident. its replacement, a LandRover Discovery, lasted for five months during which the repair bill more or less matched the purchase price and never felt secure when it was towing. so I cashed in my pension and bought a nearly new Toyota Hilux, which has proved to be an excellent tow vehicle and completely reliable – as you would expect, since it’s still in the manufacturer’s warranty.

However, in late March I though I should find out how the spare wheel worked before we headed off to Greece in it, and was somewhat alarmed to discover that it had been removed.

I immediately rang the dealer, Commercial Trade Vehicles in Wolverhampton, and they agreed to supply a wheel.

After a week or so, nothing had happened, so I contacted them and their chap, Aaron Duxbury, asked if I could take a picture of the current wheels so that they could match them. This seemed a bit surprising, since they were the ones fitted at the factory, but I obliged.

Nothing happened, so ten days later I rang again, and he claimed he hadn’t received the pictures. I sent them to the same email address.

Nothing happened for two weeks, so I rang again. Aaron asked me to provide the tyre size, and I lost it and suggested that he look outside in their yard at another Hilux, or Google it. I also said that if it wasn’t here by the end of the week, I’d be consulting my lawyers.

And today – only six weeks later – the wheel arrived…

2016-05-09 Spare Wheel





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