Flying Legends Airshow~Part 11

4 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Flying Legends

Day 11 – Saturday July 11th

After another wonderful English breakfast at the Elmhurst Hotel, I had planned to visit the Berkshire Aviation Museum there in Reading, but they didn’t open until 10:30 am. Most likely the only airplane, of any special interest to me, at that museum would have been their Miles M.52 Research Aircraft. Designed about the same time as the Bell X-1 rocket plane here in the U.S, an unmanned scaled model of the M.52 reached Mach 1.38 during a test flight in 1948, validating its design configuration.


I had several museums to visit this day, so I just headed for the Battle of Britain Bunker Museum in Uxbridge. The museum re-creates the underground operations room at RAF Uxbridge, which was used by No. 11 Group Fighter Command during WWII.


The Royal Air Force Museum located in Hendon was one of the highlights of this trip. This massive museum complex consists of five major buildings and hangars dedicated to the history of Royal Air Force aviation, spanning the time periods from pre-WWI to present day. With over 90 beautifully restored aircraft and some 30+ engine displays, it was a little overwhelming experience to say the least.


Next on the list was the De Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertsmere. This was a small museum with only two hangers, but what was in those hangers took my breath away. Three De Havilland DH98 Mosquito twin engine bombers (sometimes called “Wooden Wonders” or “Mossie”) in various stages of restoration. I had read that several Mosquito bombers were being restored to flying condition in different parts of the world, but didn’t know about these three examples. It’s one of my dreams to one day see one of these wonderful machines fly at an airshow.


Heading northeast again, next I visited the North Weald Airfield Museum in Epping. This is another case of a memorial to the history of a WWII fighter base whose planes and pilots were so instrumental in England’s struggle that came to be known as “The Battle of Britain.” The only thing remaining of the original air base is a small Control Tower and a Hurricane fighter “Gate Guard.”


I had planned to visit the American Air Museum in Britain, which is part of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in Duxford to check out the museum, as well as the parking arrangements for the Flying Legends Airshow, that was being held there. That plan worked out fairly well as far as locating the correct parking area was concerned. However, security was very tight, and I was not allowed to actually park to check out the museum.


The American Air Museum in Britain (I am a founding member) is a memorial to the American flyers of the U.S. Army 8th Air Force who lost their lives fighting for freedom during WWII. I was excited about visiting this museum, which I had not visited since our trip to England in 1991.


As it turned out, the museum building was in a state of renovation, and all their planes had been moved to another hanger at the far end of the airfield grounds. Heading south on the A-505, on my way to the hotel for the evening, I stopped to watch the “Finale” of the airshow from the road. Even from that distance it was impressive, with some 30+ vintage WWII aircraft taking off, forming up, and then flying over me at the end of the field in one huge formation. The sound was awesome!


Now I headed for the Abbington Hotel in Stevenage for the night. Greta took me right to the correct location, but because of road construction and rush hour traffic, I didn’t see the hotel on the first pass. I was able to circle around and take a slower look the second time, and there it was. The proprietors of the hotel were French and not too welcoming to “a bloody American” who needed to wash some dirty clothes. However, the accommodations were nice and a welcome sight after a long day on the road.


—–To Be Continued—–

One Response to “Flying Legends Airshow~Part 11”

  1. Old Things R New November 8, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    I have to confess, my favorite parts of the stories is the places you stay. Thanks for including them.


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