Sector 2. Dublin Weston to Newquay Cornwall Airport / RAF St Mawgan
Greetings, photos and thank you’s completed, the Catalina departed heading back to the coast and then it flew south to Rosslare. The departure was far from normal with a helicopter orbiting beside the threshold and Se Pardy flying the Maule aircraft waiting for an air to air photo shoot of the departure to the coast. The latter was part of the Dublin Flightfest preparation to be held the following month.
Once free of the attention the crew settled down to the task of flying south down the Irish coast with a Radar Service from Dublin ATC. The coastal flight was to just north of Rosslare before heading south east for the Welsh coastline. After crossing the Irish English airspace boundary,the next waypoint was the disused airfield at Dale before flying up Milford Haven to Pembroke Dock. Although not quite on Hawker’s planned 1913 route, a Catalina in US markings had not been seen for 70 years and warranted a small diversion. What a crowd was waiting! On the dock, and lining the bridge – even the local cricketers cheered. They had won the local championship and requested a flypast. Jeff flew a couple of orbits over the area and from all reports it was well received. Pembroke Dock has a rich history of flying boat operations and the Catalina Crew were mindful of the connection with RAF Coastal Command. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzO8c-kfwo4
Turning south again it was on to Newquay / RAF St Mawgan and the Classic Air Force. First a few danger areas had to be negotiated and the good news was they were inactive thanks to it being a weekend. The Catalina flew just to the west of Lundy Island before reaching the coast near Bude. It was then another coastal flight down past Tintagel prior to landing at Newquay Cornwall Airport.
Once parked on the apron outside the Classic Air Force hangar it was a case of stretching the legs before getting down to business. There was a crowd on hand to welcome Crew Chief David Legg, Captain John Warman and Co-Pilot Jeff Boyling. John’s wife Dilly was also on the scene which was great. John had served on Shackletons and Nimrods during his service career and he had been based at RAF St Mawgan. For John and Dilly, it was a trip down memory lane.
Next it was a case of taking on board the invited guests of whom there were seven. There was the Radio Cornwall presenter plus a guest from Newquay Cornwall Airport as well as the Classic Air Force, all kitted out for their flight.
Top Cadet Sam Davies, Wing Commander Lamb (RAF St Mawgan Station Commander) and Flt Lt Spencer (Station Media & Communications Officer) chat with Jeff and John prior to boarding the Catalina for the local flight.
There followed a short flight down the coast past Perranporth and back to Newquay. Also on board was a local man from Quintrell Downs, Squadron Leader WH ‘Spud’ Taylor DFC, a veteran of Lancasters, Shackletons and Nimrods – all operating from RAF St Mawgan – The Cornish Base. Spud was born in 1920 and joined the RAF just before WW2 in 1938. His RAF service was completed in 1975 and he carried out a remarkable 59 operations with Bomber Command on Wellington, Stirling and Lancaster aircraft. He was awarded the DFC in 1944 and was mentioned in dispatches in both 1948 and 1952. With his family awaiting his return, the smile on the face of Sqd Ldr Spud Taylor DFC (93 years young) after his local flight said it all!
The day was not yet over. Flt Lt Spencer had a minibus on hand to convey the crew and all their kit to the Station Commanders quarters but on the way there was a wreath to lay. The journey to the memorial went past the Shackleton Gate Guardian at RAF St Mawgan. With the Padre on hand along with service personnel and cadets duty was then done. Wreaths were laid by Wing Commander Lamb and Project Hawker 2013 Organiser Jeff Boyling at the memorial to Flt Lt Gareth Nicholas, a local chap, lost in the Nimrod Crash in Afghanistan.
The crew were staying at the Station Commanders residence. Naturally, each room had an aviation theme and Jeff’s was no exception. The Martin Baker ejection seat from a Canberra was not tested nor required during the night!
That evening the Catalina Crew were guests for a small evening drinks reception and dinner hosted by Wing Commander Lamb. It was a great way to finish another interesting day on the 100th Anniversary Commerative Flight of the 1913 Circuit of Britain Race flown by Harry Hawker and Harry Kauper in a Sopwith Waterplane. The Catalina was enjoying its 70th birthday outing too!
One day left to go and would the Project Hawker 2013 Crew complete its mission? Another post to follow.