Biography of Peter A. Weston

(Continued)

Cold War, RAF, Civil Aviation, B.O.A.C. / Skyways

The music is "White Cliffs of Dover", they would be the first thing to see on your way back home from a daylight raid on a northerly heading from France

     No.2 - A.S.S. (Yes, this really was the abreviation) Air Signals School.

     During my leave I had been informed of my next appoinment explaining the job to be done at Halfpenny Green. For your interest this airfield was selected to make the film of a B17 station etc plus a love story weaved into it, "The Way to the stars" our Brit film star John Mills was in the cast.

     At Halfpenny Green, from suitable National Servicemen, who had to do 2 years service, it had been decided by the powers that be, that a number of them be trained as aircrew radio operators during a very accelerated short course. I was to take over a course and see them through the Classroom part and follow up in the airborne side of it. I arrived at Halfpenny Green sometime in July 1952 and found that there was not much going on as yet. All buildings were of the temporary type, the airfield was one of the many quickly constructed just before and after the start of WW2, our mess though, was not too bad and in fact was quite comfortable. I met my superior,he was a survivor of the dreaded German P.O.W. camp Stalag Luft 50. Our equipment was still being put together, it would finally consist of about 15 or 16 closed in booth's which were fitted out to give the feeling they were in an aircraft, complete with engine noise. For flight training and experience we would be using the Mk 19 Ansons, they were a great improvement over the old Ansons. I managed to find nice rooms in a nearby farmhouse, quite large, it was part 16th and 18th century and very comfortable, the farmer, his wife and 3 children, were lovely people and we developed a firm friendship. Food rationing still in effect, didn't bother us at all, they made us accept milk, cream, eggs, home cured bacon, pork pies, and all the vegetables we would need. My wife and I were quite content.

     The first course arrived and we soon got under way. They had been taught the basics of radio and Morse code and how to tune the basic equipment in use at that time, but very little else. After we had steered them through the first couple of weeks, ( My self and 3 other aircrew instructors ) on the basics of airborne working, we were ready to give them simulated flights in the booth's. We had a total of about 12 Ac2's/ L.a.c.'s mixed, that were acting as the ground Stations that they would be contacting, through our large console that could mix things up, create an emergency, pull the plug on any part of the equipment, in other words we could reproduce almost anything that could come up in their job. After simple flights, and then crosses country exercises, they would be ready for the real thing. I would take 4 of my pupils at a time in the Ansons and give them each a time on the different pieces of equipment to get used to it. By the way this would be the first time that most of them had flown. The first flights usualy lasted about 2 hrs and gradually increased to 3 ½ hrs for cross-country jaunts. All this went on for almost one year, when the flow started to ease. I was given the chance to go to the Central Navigation School at R.A.F. Shawbury.

     I arrived at Shawbury about the middle of August 1953. I was to join the Anson Squadron who was flying Mk 19's and 20's.Their task was to be the target for the G.C.A. (Ground Controlled Approach System.) School unit located at a disused airfield, Sleap, just a few miles away. On my first day I met a friend from Tengah, he was the Flt. Cmdr, Flt. Lt.Brian ("Butch") Cogan who had been on No. 60 Sqdn. Spitfires, (led by their colorful C.O. Sqdn Ldr."Drunken"Duncan,) when we were all mixed in together.

     Sleap was the official school for the training of G.C.A. Controllers. We would arrive overhead, in suposedly bad weather, and after any special instructions from the ground instructors, we would fly out a few miles and turn back towards the airfield requesting G.C.A. assistance, by that time the pupils would be in control of the aircraft. They would vector us back to the airfield to overhead and then commence the procedure to line us up with the centre line of the runway for landing. We never did any landings, we would merely overshoot and pass our comments to the instructors, if asked about the quality of the operator's exercise, then start all over again.

     All our flights were generally between 1hr 45 mins to 2hrs 15mins, and on most days we would do 2 flights a day. It worked like this. First take off would be around 0730hrs, we would be releived by another aircraft at 10 or 1030hrs, back home for lunch and airborne again near to 1230hrs or so. The one who did the early morning trip, normaly would do the first afternoon flight, and then we would switch. At times we had as many as 6 aircraft involved every working day. There were the odd trips now and again to break the monotony, for instance, on the 10th October 1953 we were asked to supply an aircraft to assist in a search for a missing Vampire from R.A.F.Pembrey. Along with F/off. Hancocks he and I landed at Pembrey for a briefing, after which we commenced our search and rescue mission over the sea in our alloted area. After a 3hr search we had found nothing and returned to Pembrey for de-briefing, then back to Shawbury After a total flight time of 4hrs 30mins.Also there were trips to different R.A.F. stations to pick up or drop off passengers. In July 1954, we had Group Captain Garland arrive to take over the command of Shawbury. He had asked for someone who was familiar with the area to accompany him on a few local flights now and again and I was detailed to do that, It was mainly for keeping up his flying hours so that he didn't lose touch, I gather that he had been flying a Mahogany Bomber (Desk) for a while at his last appoinment.

     Things didn't change much at all, I had become quite proficient at going out to the Anson and starting up the engines to warm up, and also profficient at carrying out the G.C.A. exercise's from after being airborne and just before landing, with no trouble at all, against all regulations of course, but there was nothing new about this. I had always had a go on nearly all the aircraft I had been on as crew, lots of Anson's, Wellington, Lancaster, Mosquito, Oxford, Buckmaster, Harvards,Chipmunk, Sunderland, Marathon, Valetta and Varsity. On my next job I was to be covered to be allowed to do a certain amount. The time at Shawbury was drawing close as to when I could select a location near to my home for the next 2 years; I selected R.A.F. Thorney Island,No. 2 Air Navigation School, located on the South Coast, to be near my home area of Southampton and Winchester.U.K.

     I arrived at Thorney Island 14th September 1954, and was given a runover of the 3 main aircraft that were being used at that time, they were, Handley Page Marathon, or Miles Marathon, which ever you prefer, and the Vickers Valetta and Varsity.

     The pupil navigators would attend ground school and become familiar with the equipment in the aircraft and their next step would be flying in the " Flying Class Room, " the Valetta's. Just behind the cockpit bulkhead on the starboard side was the main position for the Navigation Instructor, and on the same side, going right to the back were 8, and sometimes 10, positions for the pupils each with their own set up, desk, seat and other necessary equipment, right at the back was a washroom. The trainee navigators would attend a briefing just like the real thing, on the route being taken. Meanwhile the pilot and I would be in the front looking after the business up there. Mainly my job was to act as second pilot and assist generally. After 3 or 4 months I was given the Certificate of Qualification and certified competent to carry out limited second pilot duties, on all 3 types. In addition to being up front I also was responsible for the communications, we usually managed on the V.H.F. alone, having good coverage all over the U.K.

     Now and again I would be called upon to instruct on the 2 landing systems, " B.A.B.S " and "Rebbeca" which equiped some of the aircraft. At Thorney Island we also had the I.L.S. (Instrument Landing System) installed, on the main runway. After the Valetta's, the more advanced pupils would go on to the Marathon and Varsity's.

     The Marathon was a 4 engined high wing aircraft, triple fins and a tricycle undercarriage, not a large plane but it looked even smaller than it actually was, I imagined I could pick it up and see " Dinky Toy " stamped on the underneath. I personally didn't care for it very much, there was just something about it that I could not explain, and most of the others felt the same way too.

     However we pressed on rewardless, we had positions for 4 Navigators usually, plus an instructor,It was quite roomy inside, and because it was used for some of the cross country Nav exercise's,the pupils liked it because they had much more room to work in than the Valetta's.The Marathon's were due to go later on.

     We had heard that a Marathon had crashed in flames, some time before they had them at Thorney, as to how it happened, it had caused speculation but no reason.

     The Marathon had a heating system for cold weather located behind a bulkhead in the rear Of the cabin, forced air was obtained by a scoop located on top of the fuselage between the trailing edge of the wing and the tailplane and was operated by "Petrol" fed to a burner. My 20th, and last flight in a Marathon was on the 14th of December 1955, and about 2 weeks beforehand one of our Marathon's crashed in Wales, and all aboard had perished, eye witnesses reported seeing flames coming from the back of the plane prior to the crash! Just after the 14th they were grounded.

     Now to the Varsity's, next to a Lancaster, it was my most favoured aeroplane, it was one of the best, reliable, had a very good layout, easy to fly and land, and always gave one a sense of safety, I can't praise it enough. The accomodation was was more than adequate, room for a full range of radio equipment behind the cockpit bulkhead followed by at least 4 Navigator's positions. I had more flights in them than the Valetta's or Marathon's by a long way. Now to get back to the routine as the pupils progressed they would make more and more cross-country trips both day and night,the average flights,between 4 to 5hrs. A typical route would be to Cambridge and straight up north to near the scottish border, across to the Mull of Kintyre, back down to a point in the midlands, to east of London, and then back to Thorney Island. Normally there would be at least 4 or 5 aircraft on each trip day or night. The planes would be seperated, in line, just a few miles apart. One night in the early part of 1956 we were No3 in a line of 4 aircraft returning to base and we would be east of London to cross the Thames Estuary, a few miles before London the lead aircraft reported seeing an unidentified flying object to port and to keep our eyes open, he described it as a long cylinder with light shining through port holes and a reddish glow at the rear, we acknowledged this and No2 in line broke in to say they did see something, and then we two up front thought there was something but neither of us could be certain, No4 didn't see anything at all.During our talking back and forth, a voice came out of the blue that identified itself by saying "This is Thames Radar, maintain your height and speed and do not deviate from your route,this transmission is finished, out." We didn't have a clue who was monitering our transmissions, but we did know that there was a clandestine radar system covering the East Coast, we could only guess.

     After landing we all went to the main de-briefing room and as well as the usual staff, there was a Sqdn Ldr and a civilian waiting to see the 4 crews, (8 of us altogether) that had reported seeing the U.F.O. After lots of questions and writing we were told not to talk to people outside the station about this. We learned afterwards that none of the Nav instructors or pupils had seen or heard anything at all. None of us heard anything more about it. I still am not sure if I saw anything that I could be absolutely certain of.

     In addition to the Navex's we certainly had a good variety of other work. Some examples will follow. On the 25th September 1954, 5 Varsity's were to visit Norway as part of an exercise; we landed at Swinderby first, for a briefing with a Vampire unit. After departure we flew to overhead Copenhagen, to show the flag, and then to our destination, the Royal Norwegian Air Force base at Gardamoen, near Oslo. We had an excellent lunch and after some discussions we left to go back to Swinderby, and then back home. Then on the 1st of October, back to Swinderby for exercise "Morning Mist", and back home the next day, I dont have a clue what that was all about.

     On the 22nd December it was to Jersey with a load of A.T.C. cadets in a Valetta, via Tangmere to clear customs both ways. During January 1955 we were diverted twice to Marham because of bad weather. There was a trip to Shawbury, and while there met some of my old friends. There were 5 seperate days of practicing formation flying for a Battle of Britain air display on the17th of September 1955, 5 Varsity's involved. A night excercise for "Operation Beware"?

     On the 30th of April 1956 a one-day trip to Fassberg, Germany via Tangmere for customs both ways. There were 2 airlifts of passengers to Wunsdorf Germany, one to take them and one to bring them back 3 weeks later. On the 12th of August it was to Berlin/ Gatow Airport, pilot Wing Commander Baggot, overnight in Berlin, back next day. Another trip to Shawbury. This was just to show the great variety of flights, and does not include dropping off and picking up people all over the British Isles, and several flights in our Chipmunk "Taxi".

     Before I close this episode there are a couple of interesting events that took place. The first was in the late part of summer 1955 during the late afternoon.

     A Varsity had just been re-fuelled, and shortly afterwards a ground staff engine fitter climbed into it, pulled up the ladder, closed the door, started the engines and proceeded to the runway, no one knew exactly what was going on until it was too late, he took off, and then the merry chase began. Dusk had fallen before we heard any more. He was apparently flying up and down some of the main roads and streets of inner London, Mayfair was one of the areas I heard mentioned, we also heard through the grapvine that a couple of Hawker Hunters or Meteors, (I don't remember which) had been dispatched to shadow him and if necessary, if the right spot could be found to avoid harming anything below, they were to use their rockets and shoot it down. As it happened the Varsity left London heading south to France where he eventually came down and crashed into a farmhouse killing 2 of the occupants. Our Signals Leader was one of those that attended their funerals.

     The next incident involves Neville Duke, the test pilot for Hawkers and the main test pilot for the Hawker Hunter fighter. It happened about mid morning on a Saturday, it had to be a Saturday because I remember it was bright and sunny and very quiet, and the date I couldn't even guess. We lived on the base in married quarters, and situated across a road overlooking the airfield. I had heard a siren sounding and went out see what was going on, we had none of our aircraft flying, I noticed some activity going on with an ambulance and the fire and rescue trucks hurtling around. (I did not know at that time that the tower had received an urgent call from Neville Duke saying that he had an engine flame out over the sea and would be coming in from the south to the main runway) and I was looking around and then sighted an aircraft coming in fast from the south. Prior to this, a Westland Whirlwind Helicoptor from No. 22 Sqdn who were based at Thorney Island had gotten airborne from its pad situated at the north end of the main runway and slightly to the left of the grass overun at the end of it. I saw the aircraft approaching was a Hunter, it hit the runway hard and continued hurtling along the whole length of the runway, across the overun area and slammed into a low stone wall admist a shower of stone and debris. The rescue vehicles were there in a flash, I saw the pilot getting out and after a very short discussion with people around him, he walked to the ambulance and was gone.

     The irony of it all was that if the stone wall had not been there, he would have slammed straight into the helicoptor that had just left its pad! Later, around 2 or 3hrs after, a small twin engined plane took him away. We heard later that he had suffered a wrenched back. I was rapidly coming to the end of my term with the air force which would terminate during 1956,Suez had started up before that and there some concerns that I would not be released at that time. In the meantime I had heard from a friend who was a Captain on the York Flight that they would be pleased to give me a job because they were having problems getting Flight Radio Officers with experience like I had, I felt flattered, so I went up to London to see them, and came away with their commitment of employment. They offered me a couple of choices, I could go to the Hermes or to the Yorks, and would give me full pay whilst at Air Service Training (Hamble) while getting my Civil Air Licenses, also they would pay all tuition fee's. I left not being too sure if I wanted it, but I knew that I would never get a better deal. After that, a couple of weeks later I was called into the office of our Station Commander, Grp Captain Marchbank, which was customary for aircrew who were nearing the end of their engagement. He told me that experienced aircrew were needed and that there maybe something to interest me in todays air force and that I should think twice before leaving, and then he said to go and see the Station Adjutant next door and see what he has to say. It was Sqdn / Ldr. I.V.E. Forgotten, who informed me that a new course was due to start in the New Year, at Thorney Island, and there would be no need to move and there was a place for me on it. The course was to train suitable candidates as Radio/ Radar Navigators for Gloster Javelin Fighters, he said I was three quarters of the way ahead and on completion would be promoted. I turned it down because the Javelin's were having troubles with ventilation, there were reports that the odd one or two had exploded due to heat problems associated with the vast amount of electronic components packed in the fuselage, and also taxiing from the apron to the take off point generated so much heat that they had to shut down to cool off. I now know that these problems were, in time, all cleared up,but I did not feel that I wanted to go through another ordeal like the Brigands My last flight in the air force was in a Varsity to Shawbury and return on 14th of November 1956.

     Finally, I left on very good terms with everyone and all wishing me good luck in my new career.

     I had decided to go with the B.O.A.C. / Skyways contract and I never had any regrets at all. After 4 weeks leave I was ready for the course at Air Service Trainin, at Hamble which I knew so well, being quite near to my home.

     I commenced my course to obtain my Radio Officers License for civil aviation during January 1957.I had no problems in getting my Civil Licenses, first class,as a Flight Radio Officer. After that it was up to London Airport, Heathrow.

B.O.A.C / Skyways of London Contract.Heathrow, London.

Me in My Airline Uniform

     I checked in at Heathrow and spent a day or two seeing how they did things there because this was going to be my base. All my flights departed and ended at Heathrow, apart from 4 or 5 positioning flights from Stanstead. The contract with B.O.A.C. was mainly, to fly the huge Proteus engine or engines used on the Bristol Britannia's, as well as engineering crews to replace an unserviceable engine or two. The Proteus engines were giving quite a lot of trouble at the time. We had to be prepared to go anywhere in Europe, Africa, Middle East, India, Australia, and all of the Far East. Crews consisted of Captain, First officer, Radio officer, Flight engineer, and where mandatory, a Navigator only when flying over long stretches of Ocean. There were other types of flying to do also,usually flights of a special nature, and Hermes "Crusader" flights to Cyprus, also to replace a crew member out of hours on the Hermes trooping flights to Singapore. I had chosen to go on the York Flight because of the variety of work it offered and because Heathrow was easy to get to from my home, I always used my car, it took about 1hr 30mins each way.

     My first flight was as follows, in York GAMGK, from L.A.P - Rome - Beirut - Bharein - Karachi - Delhi - Calcutta - Karachi - Basra - Baghdad - Beirut - Rome - Paris - L.A.P. total flight time 61hrs 25mins, completed in 7 days. B.O.A.C. always sent us off with a good supply of food; we even had individual choice of what we wanted. There were a few short trips now and again, such as Paris, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Shannon,Le Bourget,etc.mostly a one day trip, but sometimes overnight.I re- visited most of my old haunts many times, Singapore and Hong Kong very often. The first time I went back to Hong Kong I was amazed to see the improvements made to the runway, it was extended out towards what we knew as the "Gap" the narrow entrance from the sea to Hong Kong harbour, which had rising ground each side between the mainland and Victoria Island, but we still had to do pretty steep turns to line up on the runway. On one trip to Hong Kong, leaving on the 2nd October 1957, along the way I had picked up Asian Flu, and by the time we reached Calcutta I was feeling not too good. The next day we set off for Hong Kong via a stop at Touraine, despite the crew insisting that we should stopover at Calcutta until I was O.K. but I won.

     Half way between our last stop and H.K. I nearly collapsed; they called ahead for a doctor to meet the plane. The B.O.A.C. doctor was waiting for me and took me to our hotel where I was kept in bed for 6 days, during which time he visited me 3 times a day to treat me, I could not have had better treatment anywhere. Meantime the crew was having a great time buying up almost half of H.K. to bring home. This had cost our company Thousands of pounds for the loss of an aircraft during this period, but they simply shrugged it off by saying " No problem ".

     The long distance flights were taking up most of my time, but during a gap, one of the Hermes was marooned at Singapore because the Radio Officer had run out of hours, (All civil aircrew could not exceed more than 100hrs flying in one month) so I worked my way out to Singapore on Hermes GALDR on a military trooping flight. We left L.A.P. on 23rd May 1959 with stops at Brindisi - Nicosia - Damascus -Bharein - Karachi - Delhi - Calcutta - Bangkok - Singapore, where we arrived on the 27th, who said we never earned our money? I returned with the stranded crew to L.A.P. landing on the 2nd of June.

     There were another series of flights that you may find interesting. During 1958 trouble had been simmering in Jordan until it had become a full-blown war. The British Government had promised help to Jordan in the early stages by supplying arms, ammunition and other military supplies. We were roped in to do this. No military aircraft were allowed to overfly an Arab Union country, and because we were carrying arms etc, we were being classed as military. Somehow we had to get to Aden, a British Protectorate at the time, to enable the goods to cross into Jordan. It meant that we would have to go halfway round the world to get there. Look at the following example. We had to leave from Stansted because it would'nt do to have fully loaded York's floating around Heathrow full to the hilt with high explosives, also it would not be politically correct.

     On the first trip we left Stansted on the 25th July, first stop Malta, and then, Tripoli - Kano - Bangui - Entebbe - Aden.On the return it was, Wadi Halfa - Benina - Malta - Stanstead, arriving back on the 1st of August.The above is just one example of one of the many different routes we had to use.

     In Beirut, which was one our main stops, trouble was becoming increasingly noticeable, so much so that the American Sixth Fleet was cruising constantly up and down in the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, just waiting for the word goes. Coming from Rome or Athens we would notice the build up of warships, whilst on the way to Beirut. Some time later, the Americans started their invasion of the Lebanon, Phew! We were pleased we were not there at the time.

     We had another trip that we named the "Run Around and Around Trip". We left L.A.P. on the 13th January 1958 for Calcutta following our normal route. When we left there we would be going back in the reverse order, the complete trip lasting 7 days. Arriving at Karachi we were told that we had to cancel, we had to go to Aden via Salalah on the coast of Oman near the border of Yemen, to re-fuel.

     I had made contact with the tower on V.H.F. and as we drew nearer I asked for landing instructions, they gave them to me and followed up by saying "By the way, the local tribesmen in the hills overlooking us, are shooting at everything that moves this afternoon, but not to worry, their guns are very old and only fire ball ammunition, we havent had anyone killed as yet, only wounded?" admist howls of laughter from our crew, my reply was not the usual one.

     After landing and looking closely at the hills, we were directed to a spot about ½ mile from the main area to await a ride to the reception office, our ride was to be in the normal type of R.A.F. 15 cwt. with a thin sheet of steel on each side. The whole airfield on the landside was completely fenced in with a 10ft high wire fence. After arrival we were grabbed by the R.A.F. medical officer and told we all had to have Cholera shots, because of an outbreak, plus another one that I couldn't pronounce then and still cant. All the crew were protesting, saying "Chum, we are only here for re-fueling and a quick bite to eat" but to no avail, we had to go through with it. We quickly swollowed down some food we couldn't recognise, and got away smartly. On the climb out, the Captain was muttering in his beard," I cant believe this, I will never never ever come back to this place, I'd run out of fuel first" followed by some choice words that I dare not repeat. At Aden for overnight, the equipment to go back to London had been loaded, and we were ready to go, BUT, a message from London, would we take the load to Khartoum.We Arrived there for the overnight, BUT, oop's we dont really need it now, Entebbe informs us that they could use it there, by this time we were wondering if anyone wanted it. At Entebbe for overnight, this time the equipment, mostly for the servicing of aircraft, was unloaded.

     At dinner that night, afterwards, 2 of the crew said lets all go for a walk to the Lake, (Lake Victoria was only a few yards away) myself and the others knew that it was dangerous down there because of the huge crocodiles, they laughed at this until the waiter who was standing by said " NO! Do not go Through gate in fence, not long ago Lady was eaten by one." so that was that. The next day it was back to Khartoum, and we were determined to get to get out of there and make for Wadi Halfa come what may. We arrived for overnight at Wadi and next day via Benina, we made it to Rome (it took 10hrs 30mins), From there to Marseille for 2 nights, we believe it was our reward for being messed around. Next day, home to London, a trip that should have been 7 days turned into 14 days.

     An example of an African Safari by York was from L.A.P. on 1st July 1958, to Rome - Benina - Wadi Halfa - Wadi Seidna - Nairobi - Salisbury - Johannesburg, returning thhe same way with the exception of a brief stop in Entebbe, flight time 57hrs 5mins, duration 7 days. During the stop in Nairobi, we met John Cunningham, De Havilands Chief Test Pilot, who was out there with his team, carrying out tropical trials on a Comet airliner. Another typical African trip was on the Western side. We left on 28th March 1959 from L.A.P. to Marseille - Tripoli - Kano - Tripoli - Lagos - Accra - Kano - Barcelona - L.A.P. Totaal flight time 55hrs 15mins, duration 8 days, the flight from Kano to Barcelona was the longest, 10hrs 55mins.

     At the Hotel? In Lagos, we each had a room as usual, we all got cleaned up for dinner, my room boy had popped in to see if everything was O.K. and because there was no air conditioning he opened the windows, which had no screens, I asked him to close the windows well before dusk.

     After dinner and a sit down with a cold drink, we broke up and went to our rooms. I opened the door to mine and I was met with a completely black coloured room, all the walls ceiling and floor was covered in a thick covering of bugs at least a couple of inches thick, the room boy had forgotten to turn my lights off and he did not close the windows. I was quickly given another room and I made them inspect all of my clothing, YUK.

     The longest time away that we had to endure was a trip to Sydney, Australia.On the 27th of February 1958 we departed from L.A.P.The route was, Rome - Benina - Beirut - Basra - Bahrain - Karachi - Delhi - Calcutta - Bangkok - Singapore - Darwin - Sydney, arriving on the 6th of March. We had 2 days off and left on the 9th For Darwin, on the commencement of our journey home. We flew via overhead Alice Springs, in the middle of nowhere, and about halfway to Darwin, one of the Merlins started to give trouble, it was feathered, we had no problem in continuing on to Darwin.

     We touched down after a flight of 9hrs 50mins. The engine was quickly assesed and it was to require a replacement. One was usually kept at Singapore but had recently been used, so the nearest one was in the U.K. In due course it arrived, and helped by the Quantus Airways ground engineers, our flight engineer had the new engine installed and ready to go on the 13th. Darwin itself was not much of a place and the staff at the airport was paid much more than they would have been at Sydney. Apparently All Quantus staff had to have a turn up there, God helps them, and most couldn't wait to get back to Sydney.

     We left on the 13th for Singapore a 10hr 35mins flight. Leaving there for Bangkok- Hong Kong - Bangkok - Calcutta - Karachi. When we left Bangkok on the returning flight I was over my limit of flying hours and via the authorities in London I was allowed to continue as far as Karachi only, where we had arrived on the 20th. B.O.A.C. had arranged a flight for me back to the U.K. (This was known as "Deadheading"). I waved my crew off on the 21st and same day was aboard a B.O.A.C. Bristol Britannia GANBF, for London, going straight through other than short stops at, Bahrain, Damascus, Beirut, Rome.It was the longest trip away for all of us, 23 days in all, and when I left Karachi homeward bound, I had a flight time of 113hrs 20mins on the trip.

     Some may question, why stop at Damascus? Its only a short hop over the 11,200ft (including safety clearance height) mountains and there's Beirut, true, but the Syrian Government had put into force that all foreign airlines would have to land at Damascus if overflying Syrian territory. They were just being nasty and the landing fee's were Huge.This order cost Skyways lots of time and money because our main route to the Far East was via Beirut and Bahrain, out and back. They also kept people waiting and ordered everyone off the plane for passport checks. Despite this I arrived back home 2 days before my crew.

     One odd trip we did was to the Azores, a small group of very small Islands out in the Atlantic Ocean, it was to the Island of Santa Maria, where the airfield was situated. We left L.A.P. for Lisbon for overnight stay, we left there to be near our destination just after dawn, in case we had a problem on the way, it, would be easier to find it in daylight, even though they had a very strong signal from their Radio Beacon for our A.D.F. to follow.

     Overnight there, and then back to London via Lisbon. Total flying time 16hrs 10mins.

     My last flight with Skyways was in 1960. It was in a Skyways Constellation 1049 GALNP from L.A.P. to Tunis - Malta - Tunis - L.A.P. transfering passengers back andd forth. Total flight time 11hrs 30mins. After many thousands of flying hours I decided I had had enough. I was offered a job with the Law Society who enabled me to work from home, other than making a a few trips to London each month. After 6 years with them, they were excellent employers,but I was getting restless for a change of environment, so we decided to come to Canada, of which I had some knowledge, and we have been here ever since. I never regretted my past life, except for the good friends I have lost during the whole affair with flying.

*** More To Come

----- Peter A. Weston

       paweston@trytel. com

Directory to Biography of Peter Weston

     Pre-War, Supermarine Apprentice

     Squadron 186, WWII & Post War

     Squadron 45, Malayan Emergency

     Squadron 209, Korean War

     Cold War

LINKS

45 Squadron RAF, Unit History, WWI, Iraq, Palestine, WWII, Malaya

AVRO Lancaster, Photo

AVRO Lancaster KM-B, Photo of Existing Battle of Britain Flight Aircraft

Bristol Beaufighter Collection, By Peter A. Weston, 45 Squadron, Tengah Malaya, RAF

Bristol Brigand Collection,  by Peter A. Weston, No. 45 Sqdn, RAF, Malaya Campaign, 1949

DeHavilland Mosquito Collection, By Peter A. Weston, RAF

Formation of Short Sunderland Mk. 5s, By Peter A. Weston, No. 209 Sqdn, FEAF, RAF, Korean War

Handley Page Halifax, Photo

Handley Page Hermes, Skyways, Photo

Lockheed Hudson, 48 Squadron, Photo

Malayan Emergency  A Collection of resources regarding the Conflict between England, Malaya and Communist Malayan Rebels from 1948 through 1960 and beyond.

Supermarine Scapa, Photo

Supermarine Sea Otter, Photo

Sunderland Flying Boat at RAF Museum, Photo

Sunderland Flying Boat,  by Peter A. Weston, No. 209 Sqdn, FEAF, RAF, Korean War

Sunderlands Returning From Strike over Jungle, Photo

Supermarine Spitfire, Photo

Supermarine Spitfires, Photo

Supermarine Stranraer, Photo

Supermarine Walrus, Photo

UN Liaison Group, Photo

Vickers Wellington, Photo

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