Yorkshire Air Museum Allied Air Forces Memorial

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

YORKSHIRE AIR MUSEUM - Allied Air Forces Memorial

Date: 7th March 2012

YORKSHIRE AIR MUSEUM – Elvington.

What a day! I can’t begin to tell you what fabulous Aircraft and exhibitions are all around you. The Director of the Museum, Ian Reed, guided me around the sites for best part of a day – there’s so much to see, feel and experience.

They have a replica of the very first ‘Airborne machine’ invented by Sir George Caley – the Father of Aviation who got his contraption into the air long before the Wright Brothers. At the other end of the scale there are modern Aircraft like the Nimrod which saw active service in the Falklands War. (There was also a Hawker Hunter like the one in which I flew in the very early 70’s whilst working down in the Westcountry.

The base is as it would have been during WW2 with Nissen huts dotted all around – some housing exhibitions dedicated to subjects like the first Aviatrix Amy Johnson and Sir George Caley.

There are many interactive exhibitions where you get a feel for what it would have been like cooped up as a rear gunner in a Halifax; how the Control Tower operated; how the pilots relaxed in huts furnished with sofas and chairs donated by the public – shabby and comfortable.

One ‘hut’ slightly larger than the others is the NAAFI /Restaurant and the standard of food here was the same standard of excellence that is evident everywhere. Mind you, if I were to eat there often, I’d pile on the pounds. I managed to decline a plate of delicious looking chips and stole one from the Director’s plate and knew I’d made the right decision – I’d have eaten the lot had I had a portion.

I was allowed a rare privilege of going inside the Halifax Bomber to get a feel for what the crews had to endure – the cramped conditions, the claustrophic ‘pod’ which housed the rear gunner and from which the chances of escape were heaped against you. (During WW2 the mortality rate was one out of every two in the complement of pilots and aircrew)

There was a pigeon basket! Apparently, if you scored a hit the pigeon was released to fly back to the UK even if your aircraft were subsequently damaged or downed. (I couldn’t help feeling for the pigeon flying above flak and aircraft in flames.)

I couldn’t recommend strongly enough a day out at Elvington – there’s something for the whole family. Whilst ‘Dad’ can gawp at the planes, ‘Mum’ can wander round the exhibitions and the children can queue for the Simulator.

If all goes according to plan the Yorkshire Post Supplement should contain an interview next Saturday – partly based around my Newsreading at the time of the Falklands, also my involvement with Aviation and my Vice-Presidency of the Allied Air Forces Memorial – the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Just for interest, my aviation credits are flying in:

Hawker Hunter
Bulldog
Stearman
Pitts
Chinook Helicopter
And many small planes and helicopters
Wingwalking
Flying with the Red Arrows
Flying with the Blades
Being ‘thrown out of’ a plane at 14,000 feet (Tandem jump) as one of the Trials in I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here ……………

Tomorrow it’s a fleeting visit to York Minster to see the Memorial to the French Bomber Crews which was dedicated and unveiled in October. (My friend, Sue, who lives near York phoned to tell me about the ceremony and it was that which started my correspondence with the Director of the Museum and has led to a mutually beneficial relationship where he has helped enormously with my reseach into René Mouchotte and I hope to be able to repay the debt by publicising and helping the Museum wherever and whenever I can)

Very difficult to choose a photo out of all the ones I took but thought it appropriate to show you a replica of the very first 'flying machine' invented by Sir George Caley

YORKSHIRE AIR MUSEUM - Allied Air Forces Memorial

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.