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244. Success!


I don’t know whose crossed fingers did the trick, but we had a simply blissful day at the Shuttleworth Navy Day today.

We met the usual stream of people who were interested in 1264 and the story behind her; a number of people were sufficiently interested that they bought prints of the painting. We received a very generous cheque from the Fly Navy Heritage Trust which will help to get us to Greece, and met any number of exciting and interesting people associated with them, including Rear Admiral Keith Blount, no less, head of the Fleet Air Arm.

Oh yes – and I got to fly 1264 in a public display for the first time. I felt wildly underqualified in among the serried ranks of godlike figures, all of whom had an order of magnitude more qualifications and display experience than me, and actually shared the display slot with Paul Shakespeare, currently a test pilot with the Empire Test Pilot’s School. He flew the Bristol Fighter and we attempted to formate, but it didn’t prove possible.

Theo and Richard Chillingford were the ground crew, and we got a ride down in the tractor to the south end of the strip and we watched the Stringbag and Lysander take off, and they – and others – do their routines while we watched the clock tick by to our departure time. As the Lysander landed, Theo swung the prop. She started second swing, and I took off on time, landed on time, and didn’t bump into anybody or anything in between. The throttle linkage failed – but 1264 is such a lady that it happened on finals, so that I was able to complete my display and land normally, but couldn’t taxi back to the trailer as planned, but the tractor crew rescued me immediately, and I got a round of applause from the audience.

Sue, who hadn’t seen me fly 1264 at all before, watched from the Fly Navy marquee, where Rear Admiral Ian Tibbitt introduced her to the son of the late, much-missed Eric Winkle Brown and his wife.

Here is the photo that says it all. Thank you, John Green! There are more on Facebook a – follow the link top left.

Normally I don't like photos of myself, but I'm prepared to make an exception in this case...

Normally I don’t like photos of myself, but I’m prepared to make an exception in this case…

But the thing that gave me the greatest pleasure and pride was Dodge Bailey saying that he was entirely satisfied with my performance. I hadn’t infringed any crowd lines, flown too low, done anything dangerous, and I’d entertained the crowd. Dodge is a hero to all of the other display pilots there today, and so if he says it’s okay, with not even a suggestion or the slightest criticism, that’s has to be good enough for me!

It was something I’d never looked to achieve; it’s happened almost incidentally to the rest of the project, and I am still floating on a cloud about six feet off the ground. With no rotary engine running!

Of course we were in a considerable rush to get 1264 dismantled and in the trailer and down to Brooklands, but the Hilux proved itself yet again, and we motored down in fine style, with never a tremor from the trailer behind.

Now all we have to do tomorrow is rig it by 1030, receive our award from Prince Michael, say thank you nicely, derig 1264 again and trailer her to Bicester, then go home.



From → Shows

  1. Congratulations.

  2. Ian Savage permalink

    Well done at bringing her back safely……… congratulations .i

  3. Christopher Wilson permalink

    Great work. It was terrific to see her flying. Thanks so much

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