It has been far too long since I took Dad out, apart from weekly shopping trips and hospital appointments. So it was a day for the two of us and we went to visit a glorious lady – the only flying Vulcan bomber in the UK and – I’m not quite sure about this – I’m pretty sure that she is the only Vulcan bomber still flying anywhere.
I think I have said before that planes fascinate me, I love their sleek lines and their power. My particular favourite is the Lancaster bomber, but the Vulcan is pretty high on the list. My pictures just do not do her justice, when she is on the ground it is impossible to capture the delta wings that make her special. I’ve seen her fly once – last year when she joined up with the UK’s only flying Lancaster and the Canadian Lancaster who came over to the UK for a visit. A magical sight, but I digress.
Dad, bless him, is 93 and now needs the use of a walking frame when he is out and about. As I had booked us on a guided tour, I was pretty confident that there would not be too much walking for him and I was right. We stopped for lunch on route; Dad really enjoyed his apple crumble – as did I. However, the result of the lunch was that by the time that we arrived and were sitting down for the talk all about the Vulcan, Dad was asleep. But it was ok – he didn’t start snoring. Nevertheless, he enjoyed his day out and the chance to talk to some of the guys involved in keeping the Vulcan airworthy. It gave him a chance to tell one of his WW2 stories.
During the war, Dad was in the RAF – ground crew – based in India. When war ended, there were so many personnel out there, that it was a prolonged operation getting everyone home. A solution was to strip out the bomb carriages of Liberator bombers and put the men in these to bring them home. So, Dad left India in the bomb carriage of a Liberator. But that is not the whole story.
On the way back, they ran into a storm and the pilot radioed down to say that he was going to try to get above it. I’m not sure why he didn’t achieve this, but it was lucky for me that he didn’t. Because, when the plane landed back in the UK, the pilot gave Dad and the other men this little piece of information. He told them that it was actually very fortuitous that he had failed to get above the storm because there was no oxygen supply to the bomb carriage. If the pilot had succeed, the men in the bomb carriage would have been starved of oxygen, their lives would have been lost and I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Some story.