Out with Dwayne
The Places You'll Go
Baron - 4
Baron - 3
Baron - 2
Baron - 1
the Cassutt - 2
Up in WV
Rico - 2
on the Roof
I watched as the Spitfire, a veteran of the Battle of Britain,
gently touched the sod of the country it had fought for some
seventy odd years ago. The roll out was straight and the track
was true and the beautiful craft had slowed to almost a taxi
pace when suddenly the left wing went down. The big fighter
slewed and started to go over. It poised with the tail high in
the air, just at the tipping point, where an inch further would
send it onto it's back, then it settled back on the right main
gear and the left wing tip, the tail still high above the
ground. There was a collective moan from the watching crowd,
mine probably one of the loudest.
was visiting England last month and my host suggested a trip to
Sywell Aerodrome, which was an RAF training field during the
war. The aerodrome resembled the quintiessential RAF base that
we've seen in dozens of WWII movies and it shined in the
afternoon sun. is the largest flattest expanse of green that you
can imagine, and on this Thursday afternoon a beehive of
activity. There was a large picnic area behind the low fence and
entire families were having lunch while watching the activity.
Besides the Spitfire, there was a DeHavland Chipmunk and a Tiger
Moth giving rides to all comers and there appeared to be plenty
of customers. The local flying club was busy with students and
the restaurant in the terminal was bustling. Apparently,
aviation is still special in England, as it was here in America
forty years ago when I got into the flying business as a young
man, and it cheered me to witness it.
There is also a
Battle of Britain museum at the aerodrome that was closed this
particular day, but thanks to the kindness of the curator, the
Yanks got a peek. It was overwhelming, and my plan is to go back
and spend a day there. The smallest artifacts are shown and
described and there was lots of salvage from the battle wreckage
with a description of where and when the aircraft went down.
Allied and German alike, all things were displayed with a
reverence that spoke of the importance of the tiniest bit of
England's history during this epic time.
the failure of the left gear on the Spitfire got me thinking
about how old these aircraft from the big war are now and how
incredibly difficult and scary it is to maintain them. Year
after year there are less spares and when something breaks there
is always the possibility that the needed part can't be found. I
was standing next to the wife of the gentleman flying the
Spitfire when the accident happened and I could see the hurt on
her face as she saw the old aircraft damaged.
surviving men who flew these aircraft are in their ninties now
and their ranks are thinning quickly. We are so blessed to still
have a few to link us to the time these aircraft helped save the
world. Sadly, there will soon come a time when the last warrior
pilot is gone and we have only their recorded words connect us
to their story.
The aircraft though, live on through
the dedication of the men and women who keep them flying. and
through their doing, giving the ones of us who care, a living
link to the past.
must be faced though, that someday the machines will follow
their human pilots. There will come a day when one of these
magnificient aircraft will be the last of it's breed to fly. At
the end of that flight it will taxi to a rest, the mixture on
the Merlin will be pulled, the engine silenced and the shining
disc of it's propeller will slow, then stop.
sad day history will be religated to the museums and we will
have lost the living touchstone that brought the past alive for