Nigel, our resident wordsmith had this to say about our last meeting:

March 2020

Last night’s meeting (Wed 03 Mar 2020) at the Mundford Bowls Club welcomed guest speaker Keith Thomas. Keith is a very experienced helicopter pilot and has latterly worked for the Civil Aviation Authority in various guises. He has displayed helicopters at airshows and currently instructs on helicopters and presents aviation safety evenings to private pilots. This month’s talk was entitled 'My Life in the Clouds, the Early Years'.

Keith led us through his early life in the Air Training Corps where he got his first wings, gliding. He then got his Private Pilots Licence via an ATC flying scholarship and yet another set of wings after joining the Royal Air Force. So important to him was this, that he delayed his wedding by 3 weeks to ensure that he was able to display his (3rd set of) wings on his uniform at the nuptials!

Having learnt to fly on the Westland Whirlwind helicopter he converted onto the Wessex helicopter and proceeded into operations in Ulster supporting the Army and, on deployments overseas. He finished by stressing that because helicopter pilots were so gentle on the controls they make the best lovers! The uproar at that comment was so loud we never discovered if this was true, even though his wife was in the audience.

This was a first class evening with a super sandwich buffet by Val and Len our hosts at the Bowls Club. If you like what you have heard please come to our next meeting on Tue 07 April when Mr Len Manning, WW2 rear gunner on Lancasters, and his driver will be our guests for the evening. He will be making an 80 mile round trip to give us an introduction for 20 to 30 minutes and then allow us to see, handle and ask questions about photographs and other memorabilia he is going to bring with him.

Mark Burch

February 2020

The presentation by our own manager, David, at the February meeting got off to a poor and late start due to technical problems with the projection equipment. To avoid the 101 minutes long film taking over the whole meeting, refreshments were served while a couple of technically competent members set about fault finding and making settings changes on the laptop.

Their efforts paid off and the very tolerant and good humored audience settled down half an hour late to hear about the speaker’s favorite aviation author, the American, Ernest Kellogg Gann. One of his books in particular, Fate is the Hunter, written more than sixty years ago, along with its subsequent transfer to the cinema, was the focus of the evening. Gann stresses that early aviators were victims of fate and that their survival, or death, depended on combinations of circumstances and events completely beyond their control, their ability to predict and their understanding.

The film version, watched with several sections omitted to make up for lost time, was felt to be somewhat implausible.

But, the technical details of the mock-up of the doomed airliner and the story line, particularly the frequent rush over the years to try to blame dead pilots for crashes that appear to be otherwise inexplicable, were considered to merit praise.

Especially so as a coffee-spill in the cockpit of the fictitious aircraft that produced several electrical malfunctions which lead to the fatal crash, has very recently been repeated on two flight decks of modern Airbus airliners carrying hundreds of passengers and crew. But those incidents, thankfully, had happier outcomes.

On that note David’s presentation ended just after ten o’clock and the Chairman gave a vote of thanks to him and the techies plus an apology to the always flexible Bowls Club staff, Val and Len, for their accepting their fate and staying on late.

January 2020

At the beginning of our meeting at the Mundford Bowls Club on Tuesday the 7th, Mundford champion of good causes, Rod Billen, began the evening’s programme by announcing that, after a red-tape dispute, his considerable efforts had not been in vain and consent has been given for a permanent memorial to be erected at the WW2 Lancaster Bomber crash site in Thetford Forest (MR 52.493126 – 0.639661). An inaugural ceremony is to be held at the site on 21st March at 1-00pm and all are invited to attend this and the Bowls Club later, between 2pm and 3pm, for tea and cakes.

After the raffle and bowls club banquet, Techie Fred proposed the idea of registering the attendance of members with the employment of a card reader system. There were no formal objections to the concept being trialled.

Fred preceded his own presentation by giving a résumé of his personal interesting background and then proceeded to illustrate, with the assistance of ‘Powerpoint’ and accompanying downloads, various instruments, their advantages and weaknesses; this included the pitot tube and the angle of attack sensor.

Viewers were then invited to watch a cartoon depicting a race between various animated antique aeroplanes; it was easy for them to be recognised by such a well-informed audience.

Fred’s final showing depicted a lone pilot of a light passenger aircraft flying from Tampa Executive Airport to St. Peters, Clearwater FL. This demonstrated the intensity of concentration necessary to control an aeroplane and, at the same time, maintain a continual dialogue with air traffic control.

The evening ended peacefully and we were invited to return to the venue next month, Tuesday the 4th, to sample ‘David's Mystery Movie Night’.

Nigel Tooth.