Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time spent in England 1973

All of us who have been flight instructors have hoped that when they were tasked to train a new student pilot or to check out a pilot in a new aircraft, that the training would go smoothly.  Some people receive instruction very well and others seem to never get it.  Mike Woodley was one of those pilots,  everything came without any difficulty.  Show him once how it's done, and he had it down.  This was going to be a relaxed effort on my part.  We did spend a lot of time practicing the required flight maneuvers for the additional rating, but also we took advantage of the needed flight time and toured several small airports around the Southern parts of England.  Some of these  old airfields were probably  used during the second world war, where B-17 bomber groups were staged for bombing missions to Germany.

Old control tower from a WWII B-17 airfield in England

I was just a 10 year old kid when all this was going on in 1944. Attending a small grade school, Mc Elroy Dagg located in North Kansas City, Missouri.  I would have probably never had an opportunity to visit this part of the world otherwise.  The war to us was reading the headlines in the daily newspaper,  going on scrap metal or old tire collection drives for the war effort.  Every now and then war bonds were sold in the class rooms or stamps to be placed in booklets.  Walking down the streets of my home town and seeing the flags hanging in the windows of homes where a son or father was off to war. For the nearly two months I spent in this part of the world, it did give me a chance to put this  in perpective and try to make sense of  where some of the wars history took place.

Mike Woodly finished the training in record time.  Mike and I became good friends and it was a pleasure to have trained him.  We were having dinner one night at the hotel restaurant and he was telling me his company was looking for used aircraft.  He would go to Africa and buy airplanes to be brought back to England and sold.  I asked Mike to consider  coming to the United States.  I could find him plenty of  airplanes in the Southern California area.  Later on, for a brief period of time, I became an exporter of used airplanes.  I would locate the aircraft and send the information to Mike, later on,  he would come and inspect the airplanes. I had a local company that would ferry these airplanes to England.  This made for a nice sideline for me while it lasted.

Jack and I had an early morning nonstop flight from London to Los Angeles.  We caught a train from Brighton to London and spent the night before our flight the next morning.  International flights always take so long to check in and go thought the customs clearing process.  When the flight was called, we stood in line and had our tickets and passports out for the final boarding.  When the inspector got to me and checked my passport, he had a puzzled look on his face.  I waited for a moment and then asked what was wrong.  He showed me the passport and said there was no record of me ever entering England.  Remember in the previous post, I opted to bypass Dover, England and fly on to Shoreham by Sea.  This was a major mistake on my part.  Dover, was a designated port of entry.  When I left France and proceeded to England, my flight plan required me to first land at Dover and clear customs.  My passport would have been stamped and there would have been no problem.  But this did not happen and now I had a  major problem.  I was pulled aside and out of line.  A senior customs inspector then came down to the gate to talk to me. After much  explaining, I was finally allowed to board the flight.  So, back to the U.S.

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