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from the condensation of my breath. I was now over Norfolk and George was calling West Raynham, the exercise diversion airfield, to apprise them of the situation and request an immediate emergency landing. I could now speak more easily and explained to the Tower that I needed a doctor but was in full control of the aircraft and could, as far as I knew, land perfectly normally.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesI landed first and George followed me as I taxied to the visiting aircraft hardstanding by the Tower and shut down. An ambulance was waiting for me and I went to Sick Quarters for an examination. The MO told me that had I not been wearing a 'G' suit and had both my parachute and seat straps not been done up as tight as they were, my stomach would probably have ruptured and that could have been the end of me. Some hearing tests followed and my ears were examined. Then I had a prolonged visit to the toilet, but to little effect. The possibility of George and me having to stay at West Raynham was briefly discussed, but it was decided that without our caps, and without UK money, and considering the fact that both our aircraft were serviceable (apart from my cabin seal which was confirmed by ground crew as having split) a decision was made to return to Jever at no higher than 2,000 feet, provided I was OK when I got airborne. Air Traffic contacted Jever and told them of the situation. By now it was late Sunday afternoon and Jever wanted to close. In the circumstances they decided to stay open for our return.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesGeorge and I agreed that he would take-off first and I would formate loosely on him. We lined up for take-off and he went. I was on full power ready to go and, on releasing my brakes to roll I suddenly ground-looped left - on full power! Spontaneously I controlled the situation with my brakes, re-engaged nosewheel steering, lined up again and took off all within a few seconds. The Tower called me and said sarcastically "When you're sure you are quite ready you're still clear for take-off!" What had happened was that on lining up I had suffered little finger fatigue when holding in the nose-wheel steering button. Unaware of this, my nosewheel was cocked to port when I applied full power, thus causing the described event. The return flight, otherwise, was uneventful. It had taken me 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to West Raynham, with 10 minutes IF because I couldn't see out of the cockpit. The low level return flight took an hour, including 20 minutes IF in deteriorating weather. Sqn.Ldr. Hughes, the Senior MO at Jever, gave me a medical the following morning.5 I was clear to fly again two days later.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesMy last flight of the month was my Instrument Rating examination. My examiner was Flt.Lt. Hughes, i/c Station Flight. I passed and therefore retained my White Card rating.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesIt would be wrong of me to omit mention of the epic flight of Flt.Lt. Brian Iles and Fg.Off. Sandy Sanderson's in Brian's Miles M18, yellow, open cockpit, privately owned aircraft to Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Sandy came from Rhodesia where his father was a clergyman. He hadn't been home on leave for some considerable time. When this came up in discussion with Brian the idea of flying there in Brian's aircraft was born. Initially the idea seemed impossible but, after further consideration and much discussion, not only between themselves, but also with Sqn.Ldr. Allen, our CO, the possibility of making such a round trip began to seem more feasible.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesIn due course serious planning was done and RAF hierarchy approved the flight, in principle at least. In the event the aircraft was modified to the extent of having an additional fuel tank fitted above the pilot's knees in the rear cockpit, as near as possible to the centre of gravity. To this were affixed an altimeter, compass, and ASI (air speed indicator). Several air tests followed to make sure that all was workable and safe. Maps were provided by the RAF, flight planning was done, and as far as was possible, flight plans filed. They had no radio. After some discussion
5 Flt.Lt. McBride was the junior Medical Officer.
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