Sunday, 17 June 2007

Shrapnel Holes in the Rain

The Americans call them Gooney Birds. They deserve a better name

Interesting day at Liverpool on Thursday. Classic Flight are flying the RAF Transport Command Dakota from John Lennon Airport next week (22-24th June). Richard Parr and I drove up on Thursday to brief the local media. Paddy Green kindly gave us the run of his immaculate C-47 so that we could give the press a preview of what it feels like inside. Keenair looked after us as well as they look after the Dak. One of the great things about aviation is that it brings you into contact with some great people.

And speaking of great people...

Classic Flight's Dak used to be owned by Starways, a Liverpool-based airline that disappeared in the early 60s. We put the word out for ex-Starways employees to get in touch, and on Thursday we met four real stars. Bob, Bernie, Tony and Cliff were engineers on G-AMPY in the fifties and 60s. I could have listened to them all day. The standard Christmas present from the Starways management was "a pork pie, a bottle of jungle juice and your cards". You got your job back in the new year, hence saving holiday pay.

Paddy's C-47, like all Dakotas, isn't particularly watertight. But this one has some extra leaks, courtesy of German anti-aircraft. There are jagged shrapnel holes still clearly to be seen in the unlined fuselage walls. There are patches outside, but the rain in Liverpool would find its way into a submarine.

Good coverage on radio and papers, so a successful day. Here's hoping for lots of pleasure flying bookings next weekend.

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