11 hours ago
Monday, 13 February 2012
We have our grandson with us for half-term - which gives us a perfect pretext for doing new things. Today we went to the Southampton Aircraft Museum (I did not even know where it was) and spent a fascinating hour or two there. Huw (the grandson) sat in the pilot's seat on the Sunderland Flying Boat, which is the centre-piece of the display. I remember seeing these amazing aircraft taking off from Plymouth Sound half a century ago. My aunt and uncle flew in one down to South Africa - making, as I recall, two overnight stops, one on the Nile, the other on a Lake in Central Africa. The sheer space for passengers makes Laker & co the cheapskates they are - then there was real leg-room, to say nothing of the ashtrays built into the armrests of all the seats.
On Sunday next we fly from Gatwick to Rome on Pilgrimage; would that the journey was half as comfortable as those Flying Boats. Not all new things are genuine progress. And I bet our aircraft will not have an anchor in its nose.
It was a bit disconcerting though to see the very uniform I had worn as a Pilot Officer (Fighter Control) when doing my National Service put on display as a historic relic - and the cockpit of a Chipmunk rescued from scrap. Those aircraft were the ones we used for air experience during our training. How quickly the new becomes history! But then, I can remember air raid shelters during the war....