These series of trails are the musings of an aviation enthusiast with too much time on their hands. I simply have a love of aviation (in particular military) having been introduced by my father’s stories of his time in the Royal Air Force during the 1950s.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s when British aircraft ruled the world, fast jets adorned the skies over Britain which, at the end of the Cold War, had been ready to tackle, head on, the threat of Soviet Russia and her allies.
Like many children of that era, I spent many an hour perched at the end of runways, peering through fences, often with armed guards loitering close by, and generally staring skyward. I lived nearby to what was the British Aerospace development at Bitteswell, Leicestershire. Standing at my parent’s bedroom window, I could see Vulcans and the like circling following modification work. I developed a knack for locating disused airfields through the car window, where I would drift off into my own little world, visualising aircraft taxiing and lifting off into the skies above war-torn Britain.
As a child I dreamt of fast jets and soaring above the clouds in formation. My brother and I would spend our holidays building complex cockpits between our beds, drawing each and every instrument using cockpit photos and magazine articles as guides. Sheets would form the roof, shoe boxes throttles, and old headphones as radios. We lived the fantasy, and for a few hours a day we were pilots – we were living the dream.
Unfortunately, the dream never turned into reality. But my love of aviation never died. My dreams of what it must have been like continue on, and my frustration at the state of old airfields and their deteriorating significance to our heritage, is stifled by the understanding of developmental needs and the continuing high maintenance costs they require.
I feel saddened by old aircraft rotting in farmer’s fields, images of bone yards, vandalised airframes and aircraft discarded like unwanted pets in the rain. These are, in many cases, the reminders of what was the sacrifice of the many thousands of men and women who gave their lives in wartime, flying over foreign lands, knowing that at any minute, their time may be up. They deserve more. They deserve better.
I have an envy of those who have given up their time to help preserve this heritage of this fantastic aviation country, I admire their dedication, their determination and above all, the fact they can sit in the cockpit of an aircraft and do what I dreamt of for so many years as a child. To them, I thank you.
I am not an expert; I do not pretend to be. I decided to write these trails based on my experiences, adding in links where I could. They are not conclusive, and factually may not be reliable. They have been created in my spare time when I have taken my self back to the ‘good old days’ and are purely to share my thoughts and experiences.
My Father at RAF Manby before being de-mobbed.
On a final note, I wish to extend my gratitude to the lovely and hard-working Marcella, who has helped with the endeavour, researching and reading posts for me. Hopefully, she will one day be able to experience them for herself.