Tag Archives: Tiger Moth

Tiger Moth

Prestwick, October 1940

“Just before two I put on my flying gear and parachute. While Allan was signing the Flight Record book in the hut, I walked out to the aircraft to climb into the rear cockpit and spend a few minutes looking round and getting used to the confines of the cockpit, as the Sergeant had suggested. I looked down at the floor and gently tapped it with the sole of my flying boot. God! It seemed paper-thin. Would I fall through? Would I be sick? I glanced along the wings: ribs, struts, wires, the gravity-feed petrol tank above and central on the upper wing. Up front, the nose and the large wooden propeller, leather edging round the top edge of the cockpit, small windscreen, smell of petrol and oil.

I suddenly felt uncomfortable, nervous and overheated: the fur-lined Irvin flying jacket was rather stifling, but I knew that once I was airborne the clothes would be essential. Even my hands felt clammy inside the gloves. I sighed, then looked down to the control stick between my legs. I held it gently and moved it to gauge its mobility. I noted with some satisfaction that the ailerons and the elevators moved up and down. I then tested the rudder bar: OK, too.”

GAFWIEJW

And here am I in 2015 sitting in THE SAME cockpit Dad sat in all those years ago – not the very first he flew that day, but one of around 8 in which he trained in those weeks: BB814, now G-AFWI

“Then came the starting-up procedure dealing with tail-trimming, ignition switches, throttle, fuel and so on. The mechanic responded to the ‘contact’ routine and the propeller was swung. It fired after the second swing. I experienced immediately and for the first time the cool slipstream from the prop and instinctively brought the goggles down to protect my eyes. The engine was making a regular pulsating noise while it was warming up, and I liked the rhythm of it….

“The aircraft slowly surged forward as the throttle was opened. At first the stick was held back, but as the speed increased the stick was moved forward to bring the tail up. I could now see ahead beyond the front cockpit and at about 60 mph we were riding on the surface of the grass with hardly a bump. I suddenly realised that my nervousness had evaporated. I was simply thrilled at this new experience and felt on top of the world even though we were still on the ground. I looked to one side and saw the parked aircraft, buildings, petrol bowsers flashing by. And then, as if by magic, we were airborne. Speed … around the 70 mark. The climb straight ahead was gentle while airspeed was gained. At a height of 1,000 feet we levelled off and into a straight and even flight path. Speed … around 100 mph. Allan asked me if I was enjoying it, and I said I was. I was surprised to find that I wasn’t feeling squeamish in any way.”

'Dad's' Tiger Moth

BB814 (G-AFWI) – a typical log book entry covers spinning, sideslipping, precautionary landing, steep turns.

Flt Lt Bryan Wild and Elizabeth Halls, (2014) Flying Blind: The Story of a Second World War Night Fighter Pilot. United Kingdom, Fonthill Media.

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Stop Press – ‘Dad’s’ Tiger Moth is back!

The Tiger Moth in which my father learned to fly in 1941 is going to be coming to PreWar Prescott again this year – WEATHER PERMITTING.  I am therefore CHANGING MY SCHEDULE TO MEET IT.

I will therefore now be attending the Royal International Air Tattoo on the Sunday only, 19th July.

The rest of that weekend will be as follows:

Friday 17th July – Kemble Airfield to meet Tiger Moth, (followed by pre-Prewar Prescott get-together)
Saturday 18th July – Prewar Prescott + evening Battle of Britain Victory Party and BBQ with flypast: not only ‘Dad’s’ Tiger Moth but also aerobatics display from a venerable Battle of Britain Hurricane aerobatics – see http://www.prewarprescott.com/

Last year the heavens opened for Prewar Prescott and the Tiger Moth couldn’t make the journey from Norfolk. This year it’s bound to be a beautiful weekend, and therefore all being well I look forward greatly to what will be a touching occasion for me.

Tiger_M_6276130_origThis is a photograph of the actual Tiger Moth in which my father flew in 1941, now owned and flown by Paul Harvey. Amazing! I have taken it from the Prewar Prescott website – please let me know if there is a problem with my using it here.

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Flying Blind publication

FlyingBlindCoverFrontThe book of my father’s memoirs, ‘Flying Blind: the Story of a Night-Fighter Pilot’, is now at the press and is likely to be available from mid-October.

The book is published by Fonthill Media.

Watch this space!

Or if you would like to subscribe to my email newsletter ‘Flying Blind’ to keep up to date with developments on the book, its publication and feedback afterwards, just complete the following form. I only send newsletters from time to time when there is something to impart, and you can unsubscribe easily at any time using the link at the bottom of each edition.

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Do Tiger Moths use Tom Toms?

Having got on the wrong side of a GPS system over my Pre-War Prescott weekend, when it led me and my carrier up a very narrow, very steep road instead of the sensible way round, I wondered how one navigates when flying a pre-war plane like Paul Harvey’s Tiger Moth.  Do you use pre-war navigation techniques, and if so, what are they (looking over the side, for example, to see where you are!); and if you use modern navigation techniques, what does that involve?  Do you use a kind of ‘aviator’s Tom Tom’?  Excuse me asking this daft question, but I’m not a pilot, not an aviation ‘buff’, so the only way I can find out is to ask…

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My father’s wartime Tiger Moth

My father (Flt Lt Bryan Wild) learned to fly at Prestwick in 1940, on Tiger Moths.  Amazingly, and thanks to some legwork by Ian Grace of Prewar Prescott, he has traced one of the Tiger Moths which my father flew back in those days, and it is still flying.  Perhaps you can imagine how wonderful a connection that is for me.  Moreover, its owner has kindly agreed to fly it overhead at Prewar Prescott, where Chattie will be on show.  If only my Dad could see this!  While working on his memoirs ‘Flying Blind: the story of a night-fighter pilot’ (to be published in August this year by Fonthill Media), I have discovered the networked world of aviation enthusiasts to be highly knowledgeable and helpful, and here is another case in point.

Ian Grace’s is from a family that worked for the De Havilland factory during the war, and he himself is restoring a Tiger Moth of his own.  If you’re interested in Tiger Moths, visit http://www.n5490.org/.

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