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257. 23 June.

23/06/2016

1916.

Fitted better set of rings. Engine better but nothing wonderful.

Escorting H.F.s dropping petrol bombs on crops. Good fires started. Dropped four bombs on seaplane sheds, shooting bad, but one bomb fell very near small pier. Machine well t’ed up. Very bumpy, landing good.

2016.

We made it! At 0530 we were all at the airstrip, and 1264 was rolled out in short order. Theo and I took a very careful look at the preparation of the strip, which had caused concern from the outset. In the end we decided to use the original hard strip for takeoff, since we would have ample directional control for that, and the new, softer and wider surface for landing.

At 0630 the sun appeared over the corner of the hill in front of us, the 10kt wind was coming straight down the strip, the temperature was 26 degrees, and Theo primed the engine as I climbed in. She started first pull, and as soon as everyone was clear I opened the throttle and we rolled forward, lifting off in less than 100m.

Starting at dawn.

Starting at dawn.

Taking off into the sun

Taking off into the sun

Flypast

Flypast

2016-06-23 Landing 22016-06-23 Landing 32016-06-23 Landing

Climb rate was about normal, and I swung her round to try and keep more or less within the boundaries of the field. I made a number of passes at a couple of hundred feet, during which it became apparent that Grandad’s comment ‘Very bumpy’ was as true today as it had been 100 years ago. The strip direction is aligned with the prevailing wind, but the prevailing wind is coming over the corner of the hills on the far side of Prinos harbour, and is all churned up; it’s called ‘rotor’ by aviators.

When I thought I’d done enough for the camera crew, I tried to climb to see if I could begin to get to the sort of height Grandad did, but the rotor got fiercer and fiercer, so I decided to call it a day and see how the landing looked.

In the end, it was much easier than I thought. The wind was still straight down the strip and I was able to put her down only 50m into the 250m strip. the soft, bumpy surface brought her to a halt within about 10m, and I had achieved my dream of flying in Grandad’s footsteps, and I’d managed to maintain the Bremner family 100% record for successful landings!

I had a few moments during the flight to think about him and all the others who flew with him, but it was only when I landed that the full impact of what we’d achieved hit me, and I was overwhelmed. Theo came dashing up – the furthest and fastest he’d run for some considerable time – and we enjoyed the moment together. As soon as I was out of the cockpit, Sue was there, and it was one of those very private moments that could be enjoyed in the unblinking public stare of the cameras.

1264 was rolled back into the lee of the trailer and we noticed that the wind had shifted 90 degrees, so we were very lucky to have picked that particular time for our flight.

We retired to the hotel for a quick breakfast before heading back down for a live interview on Greek national TV. I was only required to say a couple of words, and retired to get in the cockpit while Theo swung the propeller, looking manly and virile and his name on display in large letters on the back of his tee shirt!

It was only 1030, and we’d achieved more than a day’s work, so we felt fully justified in returning to the hotel for a celebratory beer.

Thinking more about Grandad’s flying, I’m filled with admiration for his technical achievement in flying here at all. He had a bigger strip to land on, but the weather conditions were just the same, and he mastered all of this, and headed off across the water 30 miles away to meet hostile anti-aircraft fire and the possibility of enemy aircraft, and dropped his bombs on the German seaplane base at Okiljar.

Respect.

Paschalis Palavouzis, who started the ball rolling and kept it rolling until this fantastic moment was realised, was there to witness it. He’s a magnificent stills photographer, and here is a selection of the photos he took to record the event. To me, they capture the spirit of 1916 perfectly, and I’m very grateful to him for letting us share them.

Pre-flight checks

Pre-flight checks

Starting. Note Noel draped over the rear fuselage for the full power checks.

Starting. Note Noel draped over the rear fuselage for the full power checks.

Take off

Take off

Lift off

Lift off

Climbing out into the dawn.

Climbing out into the dawn.

Up sun silhouette

Up sun silhouette

2016-07-23 PP Thassos flight seagull

Landing Approach. Note the full deflection of the ailerons, showing how turbulent the conditions were.

Landing Approach. Note the full deflection of the ailerons, showing how turbulent the conditions were.

First bounce on landing.

First bounce on landing.

And finally settling. Theo showing his athletic prowess!

And finally settling. Theo showing his athletic prowess!

 

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3 Comments
  1. Gaz Hayes permalink

    The normal population of Thassos is about 15,000 but it rises to maybe 60-70,000 in the Summer season.
    Of that 15,000 maybe 4-500 of us are British expats ( or immigrants) who live here year round, and I suspect that st some point almost all of us will have stood and waited for a ferry boat from Skala Prinou and seen the monument to your Grandfathers compatriots who lost their lives in the first war…
    Your presence here, and the love and endeavour that made this possible is respected and cherished by us all.
    Thank you !!!

    • You’re too kind. Unfortunately the wind today is too strong to fly the display, but if you want to come and have a look the Scout is at the airstrip until Sunday.

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