The exciting period when Warbirds of Great Britain brought numerous WW2 aircraft back to life, and the sky! Bob Dylan's mega concert took place, and the name Air Festival was created..Blackbushe enjoyed life as a reasonably busy airfield and once again welcomed visitors arriving for the Farnborough Air Show by air.. Please feel free to upload photographs here..please and thank you!
Love the pictures flyingdodo...The Bullock Invader brings back chilling thoughts, and RN Culdrose - I made it there in a Comanche 250 from EGLK back in the sixties. Nice day out, first long X country 'on top', the mystical magical wonder of flight. Your first time suspended above an endless desert of fluffy white is a time you don't forget! Keep'em coming Sir!!
Chilling thoughts indeed. I was at Blackbushe on 21st September 1980, and remember seeing Roger chatting to Don and the others in front of the aircraft prior to departure, and (sadly) feeling rather envious that they'd cadged a ride in such a lovely aircraft. That all changed later on in the afternoon, when Reg shouted out from the tower that there'd been an incident.
It was a dark day, and one that changed my life, or saved it...On that fateful day Roger and I were at Blackbushe preparing to take one of the B-25s to the Biggin Hill show. We'd enjoyed flying around in the B-25 on previous occasions, but the chance of taking one to a major airshow was too good to miss. Roger, was indeed my closest friend. He had acquired a love of Blackbushe - caught from me probably - that matched my own, and was a staunch helper in preparing for my ultimate Blackbushe Air Festival back in '77.
On the day in question my wife and I had been invited to lunch at Hatfield, along with No 1 son who was still a wee baby.. I felt truly guilty at opting to go to Blackbushe, but warbird flying was just too greater pull although the state of the B-25 left much to be desired.... Don Bullock had left in the Invader, and we were sitting on the grass with the B-25 strapped to our backs... I said the aeroplanes were a bit iffy..It would not start, at least one engine refused to tick. Previous flights had warned of the explosive bangs and misfires the engines produced, not to mention how the perspex nose turret creaked increasingly to match the growing ASI reading.. My previous flight had been in the nose turret with an old bar stool to sit on, no safety equipment such as seat belts, but I had a wooded machine gun sticking out the front to complete my 'image'.. The view from there as we completed a wing over from ground level following a high speed run down 26 from around 2' 6" on the altimeter was splendid, especially as we rolled near inverted on' the top' followed by another speedy pass over the apron and the Airport Owner.."High Doug....".
Returning to the bad day in question...Eventually both engines lit up and with the anticipated bangs, flames ejected from exhausts with each ear rending bang, we released the brakes and trundled forth from our grass mooring. We could not have gone than a few yards/metres when the lack of nose wheel steering suggested another none engine related problem. The nice little tyre wrapped around the nose wheel had shattered.
At this point I decided that we would never make it to Biggin Hill and I still had time to redeem myself and drive the young family to Hatfield for lunch. It was the lunch invite that may well have saved my bacon.
Repairs were initiated on the B-25, but I had made my choice and was leaving the aeroplanes behind. We knew a chance to fly in the Invader at Biggin was in the offing. Roger and I had flown with Don Bullock and Peter Warren on a number of occasions, flights that were always interesting. I had flown in the Bournemouth Air Show with them in the B-17 and was quite aware of their indulgencies....
I last saw Roger as he was riding in the boot of a Ford Granada being the human tow hook as they towed a trolly acc out for the B-25's rather breathless batteries...in the event that the tyre could be replaced in time for Biggin Hill. Roger and I agreed to meet the following Thursday after his coming batch of shifts at LGW working for Dan-Air. I would never see him again. On arrival at Biggin Hill, Roger nipped across to the Invader and what followed is history.
We returned home around 8pm on that Sunday evening. Roger's Mum called on the phone to ask if he was with me, I had not heard about an accident at Biggin Hill, and she knew we were planning to fly in some WW2 machine to Biggin..Somewhat surprised by her call, she then said that an accident had occurred and Roger's wallet had been found in its midst.
The B-25 had made it to Biggin on time. I hadn't, Roger had. Had I not been invited to lunch that day the chances of this forum being created would have been slim.
That's life, we live with risk all the time, but I have never ever gotten over Roger's untimely end. It was needless, a gross error, who knows what happened in the final seconds but best to not to dwell on such. Roger's passion for aviation stolen from him by it, and I think of him most days. He lies buried in a church yard a mile or two from the threshold of runway "26" at Blackbushe, he still has the company of Blackbushe traffic as those still able to fly go about their business.
Yes, that was a chilling day so long ago, a chill still felt to this day.