Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Battle of Britain hero William Walker dies aged 99

Battle of Britain hero William Walker dies aged 99

The oldest surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain, who was shot down in his Spitfire and wounded in 1940, has died aged 99. Flt Lt William Walker, born in Hampstead, north London, suffered a stroke last Thursday. He died in hospital on Sunday, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said. The Battle of Britain was the German air force's attempt to gain air superiority over the RAF from July to September 1940, early in World War II. Their ultimate failure was one of the turning points of the war and prevented Germany from invading Britain.

By the summer of 1940, the Nazi war machine had conquered much of Europe and had Britain in its sights. On 18 June, 1940, Churchill gave a speech announcing: "... the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin." Despite being outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, the RAF showed resilience and determination when attacks began in mid-July
By October 1940, Hitler had abandoned his plans for invasion. An estimated 1,023 RAF and 1,887 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost between 10 July and the end of October 1940.

Bailed out

Born on 24 August 1913, Mr Walker joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve on 2 September 1938 at Kidlington, Oxford, a year before the war started, and piloted his first solo flight there a few days later.

  • He was called up for full-time service on 1 September 1939 and posted to Cambridge on 15 November. 
  • He went to RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, on 17 February 1940 and, at the end of the course, was commissioned and posted directly to 616 Squadron at Leconfield, in East Yorkshire, on 18 June.
  • On 26 August 1940, a large German bomber force, with heavy fighter escort, was heading towards targets in England including the RAF fighter stations at Biggin Hill and Kenley. The force was engaged over the Kent coast by Defiants, Hurricanes and Spitfires.
  • At Kenley, Spitfires from No 616 South Yorkshire Squadron were scrambled to the Dover and Dungeness area of Kent and found themselves in a fight with Messerschmitt Bf 109s.

Mr Walker's plane was hit and and he bailed out, landing in the Channel with a bullet in his right ankle. He clung to a shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands before being rescued by a fishing boat, transferred to an RAF launch and brought ashore at Ramsgate, where he was greeted by a large crowd and presented with a packet of cigarettes by an elderly woman.

Souvenir bullet. In later life, Mr Walker enjoyed recounting the story of how, as a surgeon prised the armour-piercing bullet from his ankle at the RAF Hospital, it shot out and hit the ceiling.

He kept the bullet as a souvenir.

Battle of Britain Memorial Trust chairman Richard Hunting CBE said: "Flight Lieutenant William Walker was a warm, engaging and friendly man who always had a twinkle in his eye.

"He knew how important it was that we continue to tell the story of what he and the rest of the [pilots] did in 1940.

Courtesy of BBC News - 23 October 2012 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Lesson 50: General Handling Preparation

Thursday October 4th 2012

On Thursday I headed up for some general handling with my instructor to help prepare for my skills test. Although it was only 1 hour 20 minutes I felt knackered at the end of it. Got knows how 3.5 hours is going to  feel like when the time comes. The long and short of it is I have booked the skills test for the 18th.

If I fly like I did on Thursday then suffice to say I will need to redo it. My position fix was a bit slow. My map size (250K) was cumbersome in this regard so I'll be better prepared with the 500K one next time. I went into my steep turns like a wet fish focusing too much on the nose of the aircraft and not doing a good triangle, nose, altimeter and lookout etc. My PFL while not great was probably passable - I would have made that field honest! Engine failure on takeoff drill would have been passable I think. Landing and short field stop was Ok following a low weather circuit. Slow flight went OK. Stalling was just about OK although the stall while banking took a  few times to get to stall as my airspeed was too fast.
My instructor rightly said something along the lines I need to get my head in gear quickly for each exercise. This means entering into the task that the examiner will ask me with confidence and executing it text book style.

I have just under two weeks to prepare so will be getting out the text book and making some laminated revision cards, I prepared well for all the exams and I'm not going to do anything different now. I will try and get into an a/c this coming week as well and go and practice some things solo over the Isle of Sheppey.

I am going to be very nervous and quite stressed come the big day I'm sure.

50. 04/04/12 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 14:40 16:00 1:20 Ex 10B (20 mins) Ex 15, 16 
HOURS = 42:10 DUAL + 13:10 SOLO

Monday, 1 October 2012

Mock Skills Test Cancelled

Second time the weather has let me down on my mock skills test. I have a feeling of deja-vu. My Qualifying Cross Country took a long time because of the multiple cancellations. Oh well, I have rebooked for Thursday at 2PM!

As an x-plane simulator fan I momentarily lapsed my loyalty the other day and ordered a copy of Microsoft Flight Sim FX. I kid you not, moments later, while in X-Plane practising some straight in landings to Elstree (dont ask why as I have no idea) my hard disk crashed and is beyond repair!!!!

Justice ?? Karma ?? X-Plane Jealousy ?? Who knows? Anyway - I have ordered a new Hard Disk and worse still I have had to purchase Recovery Disks at £35 from HP. This is because I had previously been relying on the recovery partition  ........ in the same built in 500Mb Hard Drive that crashed. 

Before you ask "Why didn't you create recovery disks when you first bought the machine?" I would say .... "Don't ask me why i didn't create my own recovery disks when I first bought the machine!!".

Anyway - no flying today thats the biggest downer!!!

Fingers crossed for Thursday!