Tour Manager and organiser Frank Rainsborough describes the annual day out…On September 21st, 29 Hawker Association members and guests assembled at the Hawker Centre ready to embark on the ‘Hills of Hersham’ coach to North Weald, driven by trusty Danny Hill, the owner of the company. No less than the top man will do for our Association! The visit started at the entrance to the Airfield where we were met by historian Arthur Moreton who, on the journey round perimeter track to Weald Aviation's Hangar 4, told us what some buildings had been used for in the past, notably, those seen in the depiction of an attack on an airfield in Guy Hamilton's 1969 film, 'Battle of Britain.'
The first of three areas that we were guided to was a workshop where
the Fly Navy Heritage Flight's Hawker Sea Fury T 20 was being returned
to airworthy condition and where there was a Tempest II at a very early
stage of reconstruction.
The second area was the hangar housing a two-seat Hunter finished in
an Admiral’s Barge colour scheme, a Vampire and a Jet Provost.
The third was the engine repair shop where it was most interesting
to see, and to have described to us, how a Bristol Centaurus
18-cylinder sleeve valve engine of 54 litres was being assembled back
to working condition.
There were no restrictions on photography, there was nothing restricting us getting close to the aircraft and no restriction on asking questions from the guide or the personnel at the workbenches; we were treated as a knowledgeable audience.Outside on the apron, after the hangar tours, we had a group photo taken in front of a Fury FB11 finished in the identity of the prototype Fury, SR661. Then came the call to lunch in the ‘Wings Cafe’ where we sat outside in the sunshine to receive our promptly served, well cooked and good value meals; well done the catering staff!
Lunch over we heard the rumble of a piston engine starting up and soon North Weald Heritage Aviation's TF-51 Mustang, 'Miss Velma', took off and gave a display over the airfield What a treat that was, and more was to follow. Soon after the Mustang returned to the apron we heard another engine starting, this time it was the Fury, to be displayed by Richard Grace, son of historic aviation’s famous couple, Nick and Carolyn Grace. Afterwards Richard posed for a photograph with the Hawker Association group; thank you Richard, we're honoured! A brilliant end to a fantastic day.
Very complimentary comments on all aspects of the visit were recorded by the participants.
Editor’s note. Frank is to congratulated on his very thorough and detailed organisation of the visit, all aspects of which ran very smoothly.