Flying Legends Airshow~Part 2

2 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

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 Day 2 – Thursday July 2nd

We landed at London-Gatwick Airport in a typical cloudy/fogy English day. I was surprised when stepping out of the airport to find it as hot and humid there as it had been in Orlando when I left. I took the local commuter train from the airport to Crawley (10 minutes) where I had scheduled the pickup of my rental car.

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It was a 5-minute uphill walk in that heat and humidity to the Arora Hotel where the Budget Rental Car office was located. At check-in, the only instructions I received regarding how to operate the rental car was how to open the trunk. If you haven’t driven a modern car recently, let me tell you, the multitude of bells and whistles can be overwhelming. It took me all day to figure out how to operate the cruise control, and I never did figure out how to turn off the rear window wiper. The avoidance control system on the car was something else. I can see that a one-button programmable trip control for automobiles (while you sleep) is just around the corner.

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Once I got on the road, “Day 1” almost turned into a total disaster! Nothing seemed to be working. My iPhone had no bars and my Garmin wouldn’t work. Ron had told me not to make or receive phone calls while I was in the UK, so I wondered around a large portion of the southeast of England that day, asking for directions, and staying lost almost of the time. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was going to be absolutely lost without “Greta” (my Garmin) during this entire trip, so when I was able, I sent Ron a text for “HELP” hoping he would receive it.

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I learned right-a-way that trying to learn all the rules, regulations and road etiquette in the UK, while driving on the “wrong” side of the road and trying to read the road signs, is a daunting task. Parking is a whole new experience, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand how that works!

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Somehow, during all that running around lost, I did manage to locate the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum situated on the old WWII Tangmere airfield. This museum had a small collection of aircraft outside and in one small hanger.

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The Goodwood Aerodrome in Chichester was RAF Westhampnett during WWII where No. 145 & 602 Squadrons were stationed, during the Battle of Britain. I learned that it was from this airfield that Douglas Bader flew his last sortie. Today it is a private airfield where they host airshows and auto racing events.

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I was so tired and frustrated by 4 o’clock in the afternoon that I just had to stop, take a Stress Gummy, and pray for help from my Friend upstairs. Thankfully Ron called and was able to help me with most of my problems. That allowed me to continue on to find the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, which is a small museum with one large hanger and 18 beautifully restored aircraft inside.

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Then it was on to check out the Bournemouth Aviation Museum just outside the city of Bournemouth. This museum only had 7 aircraft outside, none of which were in the best condition.

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Then, Greta started acting up, (taking me along farm backroads and through small neighborhoods) before I finally found The Kings Arms, located in the small village of Georgeham, Devon outside Exeter. This 600 year old Pub & Inn was showing its age, but was well kept. When I walked into the pub that evening, the owner looked up from pulling a pint of ale and said, “How can I help you Mate?” He was a great host and carried my bag up the two flights of narrow stairs to my room. Boy did the bed feel good that night!
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—–To be Continued—–

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